Friday, October 31, 2008

More about the Charter Challenge

Here's a longer excerpt from the two hour meeting last night, about the recent court decision that finds it's a violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms to punish people for sleeping in a tent or under a tarp when no other option is available to them. As far as I know, the current Mayor and Council (with one exception) are proceeding with their appeal of this decision. Be sure and vote on November 15th!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Making History in Victoria BC

History is being made in Victoria BC. Two lawyers (Cathie Boies Parker and Irene Faulkner) have challenged a city bylaw that made it illegal to sleep outside in public places. They took the issue to the Supreme Court of Canada, and they won. Madam Justice Ross ruled, in October 2008, that it's a violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent people from erecting a shelter to protect themselves from the elements when no other options are available to them. This is a tiny segment from a 2 hour discussion with the lawyers today.

None of the major media were present at this event. Only one elected city representative, Sonya Chandler, was there. Mayoral candidates Steve Filipovic and Kirsten Woodruff were in attendance, also some candidates for council including Tavis Dodds (the guy who asks the question), John Turner, John Luton, David Shebib, and Rose Henry.

Seattle's Tent City - 'Nickelsville'

Seattle's 'Real Change' founder Tim Harris responds to Mayor Nickels' claim that the inhabitants of Seattle's tent city, 'Nickelsville', aren't really homeless.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

i love my dentist

i love my dentist. really. you don't hear those words often, eh?!

after too many hours in too many dentist's chairs, big mens' hands pouring deadly mercury into my fragile mouth, i found deanna the dentist. over the years she's re-created the naturally beautiful and straight teeth i was blessed with naturally.

it's not that i hate all men, or anything like that .... it's about the whole health care for profit system, the tradition of men being the breadwinners and the pressure that ensues, the questions i have about those years when the company i worked for offered a dental plan and my mouth was transformed into a metalic mess. was it really necessary to pull all those wisdom teeth? i live with a lot of unanswered questions, and i'm trying to forgive myself for surrendering so easily to the decisions i naively made.

at least i still have all my teeth. poor people often have no choice but to release theirs. my dentist believes in saving teeth, she does everything she can rather than pulling them, but dental care isn't part of the canadian health package and it's not cheap. there's nothing quite like dental pain - isn't it a form of torture to deny people proper dental care? but, that's what capitalism does. if you don't got the money, you don't got the care. thanks to my mom and dads, i have choices.

deanna has a meditation room where people can relax themselves prior to treatment. once in the chair she sprays lavender and chats while preparing for the treatment. to deanna i'm so much more than a set of teeth - i'm a real living person, doing work she respects. deanna's originally from argentina and has told me stories about tens of thousands of people in argentinian streets, in solidarity with their chilean neighbours mourning the cia inspired murder of salvadore allende on september 11th 1973, or banging pots and pans outside the banks when corporate thieves stole all the money and left the country. deanna supports the mothers of the revolution, (AsociaciĆ³n Madres de Plaza de Mayo), a group of Argentine mothers whose children "disappeared" during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. deanna's very cool and i trust her.

she asks if i'd like music or silence, and then sings gentle spanish songs through the drilling, about 15 minutes worth. part way through i jingle the rattle she's given me, indicating sensitivity, and we decide to freeze the area. when she was finished drilling she provided a hand held mirror and i peered into my mouth to see my two back teeth drilled down to about half. deanna explained she's done her best to salvage the healthy part of the teeth. the black bit in the middle, she explains, is discolouration from the metal that previously inhabited the space. the metal was removed in 2003 and whatever it was that deanna put there afterwards, i think it was porcelain cavity filler, had cracked and needed a more permanent replacement. i remember her telling me this would be necessary sometime down the road.

the area was cleaned and dried and a series of gooey stuff in plastic tooth-shaped containers put into place. models, these, for the porcelain on-lay that will eventually cap those teeth and serve me, hopefully, to the end of my days. i'm now with a temporary on-lay while deanna's comrade at the lab in vancouver (someone, she assures me, she's met and trusts) prepares my permanent replacement.

i've been a bit concerned about losing that back tooth, it's caused some intermittent pain these past few years, but yesterday's x-ray shows the abscess is almost disappeared and the roots are healthy. when it pains me i treat it with clove oil and up my dosage of mercury and wait for the pain to subside, usually a day later, then i go visit james the wonder herbalist. deanna and i have known about this below the surface abscess for a few years now. deanna's done her best to encourage me to a root canal, and i went so far as to make an appointment but on the day that was scheduled the dentist wasn't there. deanna doesn't do root canals, she had referred me to a different dentist. i don't remember why the dentist didn't show that day but i took it as an omen and began to think -- deanna doesn't put metal into people's mouth, and neither does she perform root canals. could there be a connection?

after talking to many people, including alternative healers, i found dr. juan rohan who's touted as a local expert on mercury poisoning. for a year i've been following the vitamin regiment he suggested (a b complex, selenium, zinc, msm, chlorella, vitamin c, consumption of cabbage family vegetables including broccoli and cauliflower), plus homeopathic mercury and lead. then there's the yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy - all help with detox - plus the pre-packaged liver cleanse and heavy metal detox i found at the vitamin shop, and of course james the herbalist who custom builds natural mixes to help facilitate the cleansing. because of some or all of this, who knows which specifically, a surface abscess has disappeared - it's gone from a hard lump to a tiny little pimple that continues to recede - and yesterday's x-rays show that the root abscess is also nearly non-existent. that's two root canals no longer necessary and i expect that, by healing my mouth, i've also removed mercury and lead and the other heavy metals (that showed up on dr. juan's test - arsenic, cadmium, etc) from my liver and kidney and other organs.

in case it's not clear, here's the point -- i really believe that the abscesses in my mouth were connected to the mercury that was dumped into my teeth. it's interesting that the only place it's legal to dump mercury is into peoples' mouths. deanna the dentist has a special license with the city stating that the mercury she removes from peoples' mouths will be properly disposed.

in conclusion, to the dentist who told me, in my adolescence, that my very strong tongue will be useful to me someday, i say ..... is this what you meant? that i'm to tell my story? that i'm to use all the power of the alternative media to tell the stories of the millions of people who live on the streets without any access to dental care, without the ability to consult alternative healers, whose only recourse is to have their teeth pulled from their mouths and die of starvation? to laugh in disbelief at sarah palin's greed motivated idea of socialism that involves taking things from people rather than providing them?

i really am glad to be canadian, despite our collective flaws. this is the country deanna the dentist felt she could safely inhabit. i hope there are other dentists out there like her.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time for a change at Victoria's City Hall

Remember FolkFest?

For many years, Victorians enjoyed a mid-summer festival celebrating the diversity of culture. In its early days, a small stage enabled local ethic groups to show off their talents, there was a fabulous food area where local cooks shared their cultural cuisine and, as the festival grew in popularity and size, increasing numbers of local vendors flogging their wares - artistic, musical, practical.

One summer, shortly after I'd graduated from UVic, and right livelihood* employment seemed increasingly unlikely, I invested a chunk of change in a hammock made on one of the gulf islands. A young wilderness-loving sales guy assured me that this was the way to go, and told me stories of hanging from the canopies of ancient forests in his hennessey hammock. The hammock cost me $150 hard earned dollars. It's light, compact, and fairly rainproof. I bought it with wilderness camping in mind, and I've slept in it there, but mostly I bought it as security measure. The day may arrive, I thought, when I can no longer suffer the slings and arrows of this outrageous society, when I give up trying to fit myself into a world that values commodities and material wealth above all else, when I am unable to pay the unfair increases in rent. On that day, I thought, I'll take my hammock and I'll somehow survive.

I've got an emergency backpack ready to go. Don't you? Anything could happen - a fire in the night, the earth might throw up one of those storms of devastation, or the economic system that depends on greed and self-interest might collapse ..... oh wait, that's already happening. We've seen how emergency services rescue the wealthy first when an entire city's wiped out. I've got a backpack with a change of clothes, some dried food (that reminds me, it's about time to rotate that into consumption and replace it), a spare toothbrush, a small wad of cash, and my trusty hammock attached. I'm ready to go in an instant.

Thanks to a recent supreme court ruling, I can take that backpack and survive. Maybe not for long (we do live on an island, and anything could happen), but maybe for long enough until the storm passes. Thanks to a bunch of homeless people who insist that we all ought not be punished for our attempts to secure our own right to life, liberty, and security of person, as Canada's charter of rights and freedoms acknowledges, the police can't rightfully arrest me if I need to sleep outside for a while.

Victoria's current Mayor and Council don't think that's fair. After years of waiting, upon hearing Madam Justice Carol Ross's decision, Victoria Mayor and Council immediately held a vote to appeal. They were so determined to overturn that judge's decision that they made absolutely no plans to acknowledge it if it wasn't in their favour. They did everything they could to keep the case out of the courts and then, with a supreme court decision that upholds our right to protect ourselves, they voted unanimously to appeal the verdict.

And now it's job review time. Why should we re-hire any of them?

Last night the grassroots Committee to End All Homelessness and the Together Against Poverty Society hosted an all-candidates discussion and offered first dibs at the microphones to the street community so we could ask them pointedly. And ask them we did ....

Dean Fortin and Geoff Young claim there's no money to manage a tent city like Portland's Dignity Village. They say it'd cost $800,000 to a million a year. One wonders how much they've already invested in trying to stop justice ..... how much they're willing to spend on the appeal.

They were asked how much will be spent on Ellice Park's new proposed shelter space, and they pretended not to know. Dean deferred the question to Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe, saying it's not about knowing the answer so much as it is about asking the right person. That's true, except when you already know the answer. I was told it was made public how much is going into Ellice Park, but not because of City Council. At the meeting when they held the final vote, Rob Fleming (formerly City Councillor, now MLA), told the audience there's something they need to know about Ellice Park. Apparently the provincial authorities offered up an enormous amount of money (the details escape me, check back later) on the stipulation that the City build specifically a shelter (not subsidized or low income housing, not a tent city) and that they build it on city property. The City, rather than making this information public and suggesting we all lobby the provincial goverment for something more reasonable, accepted this offer and then took a piece of designated park land out of park status .... and now they're pretending not to know how much money's being invested in it.

Maybe that's why Charlayne Thornton-Joe eventually left the meeting in tears .... maybe she finally realized she can't pull the wool over our eyes anymore. Her little introductory speech about how education is the number one ingredient to combatting poverty might have worked the first time she was elected, she might even have impressed people with it the second time around, but the third time?

The current mayor and council have done a lot of talk, research, and studies. They created a Committee to end Homelessness and hired a bunch of rather highly paid bureaucrats to do more talk, research, and studies. And, according to one audience member last night (the room was packed full), they spen about 60% of their meeting time on rezoning issues. The current mayor's an architect -- is it any wonder we've got lots more new buildings for the wealthy, and absolutely nothing for the poor?

Their arguments against a tent city, one that is established in cooperation with municipal authorities (like Portland's Dignity Village), are full of misinformation. Dean Fortin says tent cities always increase the amount of drugs and prostitution. He pointed out that Cridge Park (the former site of Tent City) was fraught with drug dealers and underage sex. Yes, it was. And the homeless people I know were also frustrated with that. A few good people set up residence and next thing you know the riff raff's moving in next door. Was it the campers' responsibility to make citizen's arrests on their unwanted neighbours? Can't Victoria Police visit such gatherings and sort the wheat from the chaff? That they neglected to do so, that they chose instead to shut down the entire affair and condemn all the campers to the same fate, and now years later that city officials choose only to focus on that unwanted element suggests they got exactly what they wanted. They wanted tent city to fail so that they can stand in their self important way and claim 'ALL TENT CITIES ATTRACT DRUG DEALERS.'

Last night Rose Henry (candidate for Council) told me that four more homeless people died this past week. Mayor and Council's final solution. Do absolutely nothing and hope they'll go away. And they will, they'll die, we'll all die, but every day a failed economic system creates more. It's time for some real action.

Mayoral candidate Rob Reid seems to be re-thinking his former position adamently opposed to tent cities. Kristen Woodruff, Saul Anderson, and Georgia Jones are all in favour of a tent city. But it was Steve Filipovic, who I've known as a Green activist for many years going back to the G8 summit in Calgary, who spoke most eloquently about it. Steve wants to empower the street community rather than provide for them in a patronizing, paternalistic manner. Steve seems to understand that homeless people are each individuals. Why not allow them to gather in small communities, Steve suggested? The City can assist by offering up small parcels of land and providing necessary services like porta potties and recycling/garbage collection, but ultimately people gotta find their own friends and build their own communities and make their own rules and live their own lives and look after each other.

Portland's Dignity village is a wonderful example of what can happen when political will combines with creative solutions. Dignity Village has no drugs no violence rules. I've heard that if you're kicked out, the amount of time you stay away depends on how you left. All residents of Dignity Village must contribute a certain amount of time to the collective upkeep of the place. They've established themselves as a charity so they can write grants and fundraise and contribute to their own existence. They're a shining example of what is possible.

We might wish we could ignore the increasing numbers of homeless, we would rather not see shanty towns, but the reality is the economic system is collapsing. Hopefully something better will grow from the ashes, something humane and compassionate, but in the meantime we have to look after each other. It's the Canadian way. Personally, I'd rather live in a shanty town than a doorway. We need to swallow our pride, accept the reality of the crisis, and consider viable and humane options. Let's not be fake Americans, or real Americans, insisting on the rugged individualism of misinterpreted Darwinism .... let's be real Canadians and say the world socialism out loud and be proud of it.

Through Charlayne's tears (and I've seen those tears before), during some tough questioning, she invited us to go see her research on Dignity Village, to look at the websites she's visited connecting her to tent cities all over the world. But she, and all the other Councillors, and the Mayor, did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING beyond research to prepare for Madam Justice Carol Ross' ruling. It'd be so easy to give up a small parcel of land for a tent city, the precedent's already been set, but we just haven't seen the political will. And we heard that again and again from street community representative after street community representative. Mayor and Council can talk 'till they're blue in the face about what they want to do for the homeless, what they've researched and studied, but last night a room full of street representatives told us all about what they've actually done.

To her credit, Councillor Sonya Chandler has put forward a motion that City Council will be reviewing this morning --- it's about re-thinking their decision to appeal the judge's ruling that says it's not illegal to sleep outside. But it leaves one wondering whether Sonya would have regretted her initial response if her job review hadn't been pending.

I publish the Victoria Street Newz, and I have done for four and a half years. I've invited councillors to write a column, or ask someone to write a column, keeping us posted on their activities. To date I haven't had a single submission. I guess they're at least smart enough to realize we're not all that interested in re-zoning.

It's job review time for our local elected officials. Victoria is missing its annual Folk Festival, and it doesn't yet have designated space for a tent or dignity village.

Don't miss the next Mayoral Candidates' Meeting on Homelessness, Youth, and Justice - a cast of colourful characters have put their names forward and if the next meeting is anything like last night's, it's definitely more entertaining than television!:

November 3, 2008, 7:00 PM @ JAMES BAY NEW HORIZONS, 234 MENZIES ST.

* Right-livelihood is defined in Buddhist texts. The Wikipedia interpretation suggests we "ought not engage in trades or occupations which, either directly or indirectly, result in harm for other living beings."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Portland's Dignity Village

Victoria's City Council has known about Portland's Dignity Village for at least a couple of years. I believe a delegation was sent there to check it out.


Are our elected officials, and their police force, really that cruel .... that stupid? They've been fighting the Charter Challenge for years. They knew there was a possibility it would be decided in favour of justice. Why didn't they have a plan 'B'?

Friday, October 17, 2008

City tells Homeless - you can sleep, but you can't have a home

October 17, 2008
by Janine Bandcroft

This afternoon local officials selected carefully from among the tent city's prettiest colours and shapes, collecting camping gear for their next year's family outings at the last remaining BC wilderness in the pay-as-you-go provincial rip off campsites. Because law enforcers are themselves above the law, they call this 'confiscation,' but to everyone else it's known as 'theft.' Local law enforcers justify their theft of camping gear as the only possible way to eradicate the societal demise known as 'tent city' which city officials will now reluctantly 'allow' ...... but only through the night.

You see, a couple hundred years ago their white, invasive ancestors (perhaps even the very same souls, cloaked in the disguise of another lifetime), destroyed the homes of other people attempting to live with a gentle footprint upon this land. Those were known as 'Indians,' 'Savages,' and the above-the-law enforcement officers of their day engaged a sense of entitlement and superiority that justified an unprecedented theft of land, destruction of property, and deathly disease.

Thanks to the inconvenience of modern media, we can watch that theft and destruction all over again .... and celebrate because homeless people are now 'allowed' to sleep in tents at night. They can sleep, but they can't have a home. There will be no municipal support for alternative lifestyles. As winter approaches, the homeless will have to settle for extra 'shelter beds,' (in reality, foam mats on a floor in a potentially TB clouded church basement somewhere).

Tonight's corporate media tugged at the green heart strings of those watching from the comfort of their bear mountain condos. Camping, it seems, is indescribably damaging to the local habitat. I could almost hear Len Barrie's tsk tsk from his Alan Lowe designed monster home, on top of his world, carried across the miles on the winds that blow with a forcefulness never known before an entire mountainside was clearcut and destroyed.

The corporate media was also careful to connect drug use (which, apparently, has never ever occurred previously in Beacon Hill Park) with the tent city dwellers. How dare those homeless criminals attempt to construct homes on the sacred grasses of Beacon Hill Park, the ultra-wealthy coke sniffing martini drinking SUV driving 65,000 square foot oil heated home dwelling citizens exclaimed !?!!! How dare they.

WE MUST ALL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEBT they screamed, across their Jordan River 'development' plans which make Bear Mountain look like a lego-project at miniature world. WE MUST ALL OWN MORTGAGES, GIVE OUR LIVES OVER TO THE BANKING SYSTEM (let us pray), LIVE IN BOXES, PRETEND THIS LIFESTYLE, THESE BANKING DECISIONS, HAVE NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER ON THE NATURAL WORLD, AND FOR GODSAKE BE HAPPY ABOUT THE CHOICES WE'VE MADE. After all, everyone knows it's CAMPING that's the crime, CAMPING that's the most environmentally damaging lifestyle, CAMPING that leads to drug use, prostitution, and the ultimate demise of all that is sacred and holy.

In addition to convincing us all that the tent city campers deserved everything they got (theft of property, rough-housing, ticketing, arrest ....) tonight's media also ran a story informing us of the filth and uncleanliness associated with riding the buses. Whereas bus riders touch chairs and railings that other people have also touched, thereby picking up untold amounts of bacteria and other disagreeable cootie-type micro-objects, SUV drivers never ever touch doorknobs or elevator rails, they never try on shoes that dirty lower income feet might have touched. In comparison to those grubby bus riders, car drivers are sparkly clean. According to the corporate media, homeless people attempting to create a gentle life for themselves are the blight upon the earth, they're the cause of global warming and species extinction, with those who choose public transit very nearly as despicable.

It's reasurring to know that, with the capitalist economic system collapsing all around us, creating homelessness and poverty faster than Rob Reid can run into the Mayor's chair, the corporate structures of the 200 year old industrial revolution will cling sooooo valiantly to their dying system of unethics. You gotta admire their determinism .... er, determination.

7:00 pm update: Chris Johnson reports - "tent city update: The five people arrested earlier today have been released from jail. I've no word yet if they are facing charges..."

City Law enforcement a no-show at tent city media circus today

by Chris Johnson

When I arrived at tent city at 6:30 this morning the only person up was David Arthur Johnston, keeping vigilant watch for the by-law officers who we were told would be coming at 7am to dismantle the tents.

As we sat sipping coffee and watching the sun come up, friends, neighbours, and media began to arrive, and Victoria’s newest community started to come to life.

When the 7am deadline came and went, and no one had arrived to evict the campers, the media swarmed David to find out what he thought of this latest development.

Don’t ask me what he said to the cameras and notepads. Myself and the other independent media kept our distance from the media circus, taking photos of the journalists and laughing at the absurdity of it all. At one point, when one of the campers decided to take down his tent and flee the scene, the tv camera people literally ran over and began filming, circling each other to catch the action from all angles.

At around 9am, one of the campers listening to the radio heard acting mayor Dean Fortin announce that the city would have compassion on the campers, and leave them alone for now. A newspaper article posted online an hour later quoted Fortin as saying that council had created the policy, and it was now up to by-law enforcement to decide if, when and how they would enforce the complaint driven policy.

As far as I can see, there is nothing for people to complain about. I witnessed no drug use, prostitution, littering, vending without permits, indecent exposure, unlicensed dogs, open fires, or anything else for the by-laws to crack down on. Everyone there is homeless (or was until Tent City came along), visitors have been taking garbage out with them, food has been cooked off premises (nearby Food Not Bombs volunteers stayed up all night preparing food for today) and campers have been using public washrooms to relieve themselves. The only possible infraction I can think of right now is the small, recycled federal election campaign sign that now reads ‘Tent City’.

I seriously can’t imagine the SWAT team gearing up to crack down on this most flagrant of public signage violations, though in this city nothing surprises me.

I wasn’t surprised that the council reacted so negatively towards the ruling that struck down their criminal anti-camping by-law, and I wasn’t surprised that they threatened to tear tent city down instead of offering to negotiate with the campers. I’m also not surprised that they couldn’t back up their threats, and have changed to a more conciliatory tune.

Fortin was quoted as saying that they might visit the campers and ‘ask’ them to move to a grassy area, and out from under the trees in Mayor’s Grove, which a nearby sign tells us were planted by the likes of Winston Churchill, the King of Siam and various colonial white male land invaders.

Each day’s local newspaper has been filled with articles about the tent city, and this morning’s paper even featured a whole page of letters from ‘concerned citizens’ who seem to have bought into the city’s fear mongering tactics. No doubt the city’s backpeddling this morning will unleash a whole new wave of criticism and fear.

So far, the only real confrontation that has occurred at the tent city happened last night, when yet another ‘concerned citizen’ ran in and tried to pull up the stakes that were holding up one of the tarps. Other than that, visitors have been friendly, and have included nearby Fairfield and James Bay residents, as well as several candidates for city council, including Rose Henry and David Shebib. A third candidate, Tavis Dodds, is himself a resident of the camp, and may very likely be the only homeless person on the ballot.

A community meeting is being planned for this weekend, where the future of this tent city as well as the possibility of more tent cities will be discussed and planned.

When asked if he thought that the survival of tent city for a fourth straight day was a victory, David Arthur Johnston replied that it is a huge victory, and one that people all across the world will be paying attention to.

The tent city campers are very heartened by the news the people in Vancouver have started camping out at city hall to challenge that city’s bylaws, and they hope to see actions of this kind happen all around the country.

So tent city stands, but for how long is anyone’s guess. Talk around the picnic table there has turned to plans for gardens, composting toilets and other infrastructure required to maintain the community.

My guess is that the city won’t be able to stay away from tent city for very long, and when the by-law officers do arrive, they will be welcomed to set up tents of their own and join the celebration. The more the merrier.

click here for up-to-date independant media articles on this and other tent cities

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is it True there's Millions of Dollars in UVSS Capital Fund???

I arrived a bit early for CFUV's general meeting tonight and, outside the door of the room we would be occupying, saw various documentation photocopied and available for pick up. I was thinking that I should read my emails more carefully, I didn't remember reading that our meeting was an AGM, and then I began to wonder why would CFUV be reviewing the UVSS budget?

It turned out that the UVSS, the student society at UVic, was having their AGM. They'd been having it since 3 that afternoon and we were booked into the room at 6:30. It was approaching 7. I perused the agenda - there was no mention of the strike that's now in its 7th week. Workers inside the student union building, which is managed by the UVSS and their staff, are asking for the first pay raise in many years.

I looked more closely at the financials. Why would they be approving a budget when the strike isn't even on their agenda, and certainly isn't resolved? What the !??!!?? I thought, and then I spotted Craig, host of Friday morning's radio show with the same name. If you listen to his show you'd never guess that he's a numbers kinda guy. I thrust the budget into Craig's hands and asked him to please figure out how to resolve the strike.

Our GM was called to order, and I noticed Craig flipping through the pages as we discussed important matters like who would be our student representatives on the board. None of the people nominated were at the meeting so a few of us abstained from electing them.

Near the end of the meeting Medhi put forward a motion: CFUV requests that the strike be considered urgent, and that the UVSS resolve it quickly, fairly, and justly. I seconded the motion. Christine, a CFUV programmer and also UVSS Director of Services, affirmed the fact that the strike was not on the UVSS agenda but assured us that they had discussed it a lot. She also said that the budget was not passed at today's meeting. Christine and one other person voted against Medhi's motion for a speedy resolution to the strike, and there were a small number of abstentions, but most of us were in favour.

After the meeting, many of us were talking about the strike - it's affecting how CFUV functions. Craig's interpretation of the numbers indicated that the student services (subtext, zap, graphics, Cinecenta, food services, etc.), the people asking for an increase in pay, appear to be self sufficient financially - no problem there. Craig also noticed that the actual running of the building, the administration, accounting, and UVSS board, costs about a million dollars a year. He suggested that seems a lot of money. Apparently the four elected board members - the Chair, the Director of Academics, the Director of Finance, and the Director of Services - earn about $25,000 each. The building manager's salary is about $70,000. I don't know how many people work in the office aside from that. The cleaning and security is the responsibility of UVic, and isn't paid by the UVSS.

What's not mentioned in the financials, is the Capital account. CFUV also has a Capital account. It's like a savings account, a slush fund for emergencies. It's speculated that the UVSS Capital fund is likely in the millions of dollars, and that money could be moved over to provide the wage increase that the student workers are requesting.

I also learned that, through the years, the UVSS has not been very good about bookkeeping. Aside from the guy who ran away with the money and the scandal at Felicitas (and wasn't Esquimalt/Juan de Fuca federal Conservative candidate Troy de Souza the UVSS Chair during some of those years?), CFUV has been inappropriately charged for phone lines we don't use, rooms we don't meet in, and we pay energy costs for not only our own space but also for the for-profit businesses that operate out of the building. At one time there was an approximately $6,000 incorrect charge for photocopying and if not for the steady eye of our station manager, various other erroneous charges would have been paid by our little radio station.

If CFUV wants to rent one of the meeting rooms down the hall, we can do that for no charge. But that same room will be rented for a fee to outside groups. That seems reasonable, but here's the clincher --- if a paying customer wants the room, we get bumped. That doesn't seem very neighbourly.

It's cold, and rainy, and the picket line is now in its 7th week. They want fair wages for the workers. I say move the money from the capital fund, quit ripping off the non-profits in the building and get the for-profits to pay their fair share, leave your fat egos at the door, and behave responsibly to end this strike.

Here's the emails for the UVSS board of directors:,,,

addendum: information gathered after writing this post:

1) We were overcharged by about $3,000 in photocopying over several years.
The UVSS credited us for the error. There were also some errors around GST
credits that had to be corrected. The current book-keeper for the UVSS is
excellent so I've had far fewer errors to correct in the last few years, but
she is currently on the picket line.

2) I'm not sure how much the UVSS actually has in the Ewing Fund, which is
where 1/2 of their $13 Building Fund fee goes each year (i.e. $6.50 a
student each term). It would be listed in the end notes of the UVSS
financial statements from last year.

The Ewing Fund was not listed in the draft statements available at the GM
since they had not been audited by the UVSS accountants.

The UVSS says the accountants cannot complete the statements until they have
reached an agreement with the Union as any retroactive pay to union members
would have be included in the previous year's statements.

3) The actual salary of the General Manager could be confirmed by a union
representative, I've only heard hearsay on that matter.

4) UVic charges the UVSS approx. half of the total Triple Net cost
(utilities, janitorial and hydro) for the operation of the SUB. So the UVSS
and all the student groups are charged this amount. There are disputes about
the manner in which this Triple Net amount is calculated, and whether it
should even be charged to student groups.

Tent City a big surprise to Victoria's officials

Congratulations, City Hall, for being so well prepared to respond to the legal decision we've all been waiting for since June, on a court case that's been years in the making !!!

Presumably you've visited Portland's Dignity Village site, and talked with their city officials about the logistics involved with establishing this world class construct. Perhaps you've contacted one of the four churches in Olympia, Washington, who are helping co-ordinate their tent city.

In the summer I circulated an email with "the code of conduct i picked up at camp quixote in olympia -- hopefully something we can draw upon as we move towards tent cities in our own cities. to talk to one of the organizers (unitarians) call bill at 360-534-0323 or selena at 360-951-0326." I also posted photos and wrote about it in the Street Newz:


This statement is to be read, (or, if reading is difficult, it will be read by an assigned camp leader) and signed as a written covenant of good faith and promise of adherence to the requirements of the City of Olympia Ordinance for homeless encampments, between members of Camp Quixote and The Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

As a community of love, we all understand the need for guidelines for protection and safety.
As a resident of Camp Quixote, now located on the property of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, I have read and understand the two agreements which follow and which are necessary for our camp community.

1. Our code of conduct states that there will be no alcohol, drugs, violence, stealing, or forced sex in our camp community. In addition, we will follow this and the requirements of the Olympia ordinance, which additionally prohibit (i) weapons in the camp (including knives over 3.5 inches), (ii) no unapproved open flames, (iii) trespassing or loitering on private property in the surrounding neighbourhood, or littering on such property or in the encampment.

As members of Camp Quixote, we will be reminded of these rules at our regular meetings and will enforce them. In addition, for the safety and well-being of us all, no uninvited guests will be welcome. Visiting hours are between 9 am and 9 pm and visitor must be accompanied by resident at all time. We will uphold this commitment.

2. As a resident of Camp Quixote, I agree to hold The Unitarian Universalist Congregation harmless if something happens to me on its property where we have currently been granted sanctuary.


You've no doubt asked your coalition to end homelessness (who don't seem to have bothered putting me on their mailing list) to recommend places where Victoria's tent city can establish itself, and talked with city officials about providing garbage/recycling and sewage services. You've worked with the Faith in Action Coalition and the Committee to End All Homelessness (whose name you co-opted) about the logistics required to help the 1200 documented homeless people currently living in Victoria. There's no way you couldn't have known a tent city was on its way as soon as the legal decision was released - David Johnston's been sending consistent mass emails explaining this would be the consequence.

How, exactly, do you manage to accomplish so little when others can do so much? The little Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group has constructed two affordable housing units in as many years. I noticed that public officials showed up for the photo op. Wouldn't miss it!

What have you given us? You removed a piece of green space from park status so you can move the homeless from downtown and make them invisible inside yet another 'shelter'. The following week you tried to remove a second piece of green space from park status. Nice precedent.

Maybe this is why so many Canadians don't vote --- you obviously don't care about us, and subsequently we can't stomach endorsing you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canadians don't want Conservative Politics

On average, about 60% of Canadians DID NOT vote for the Conservatives, but you won't read this headline, or hear this spin, from the corporate media. Their advertisers have them by the balls, and they tell us what their bosses tell them to. Car manufacturers continue to build and advertise SUVs, and 'mainstream' political focus continues to favour the corporate politicians.

More incredible, perhaps, than the numbers of Canadians who don't pay attention to alternative media, are the thousands of people who voted for a man in Saanich/Gulf Islands who withdrew from the race. Party loyalty is one thing, but at least pay enough attention to know if someone is actually running or not.

And, because Canada is one of the only nations in the world (along with the USA and one other) which don't have a representative vote counting system, we're stuck with four more years of cuts to women's and other social programs, cuts to artists, increased numbers of homeless and poor as a consequence plus blatent disregard for the fate of our earth. They're younger than me in years but they're so much older in thought and lifestyle - they think they can live in a 'Leave it to Beaver' world that only ever existed in someone's imagination. We're stuck with Conservative politicians who think that signing a 'Security and Prosperity Partnership' with a bankrupt nation is a good idea. They hate government, and pay themselves to dismantle it ..... slowly and painfully.

Here's what Fair Vote Canada has to say about it:

Fair Vote Canada - October 15, 2008
Barbara Odenwald at 819-921-6037 (Ottawa)
Larry Gordon at 647-519-7585 (Toronto)

Electoral dysfunction, yet again Greens deserved more than 20 seats - voting system also punished New Democrats, western Liberals and urban Conservatives

Once again, Canada’s antiquated first-past-the-post system wasted millions of votes, distorted results, severely punished large blocks of voters, exaggerated regional differences, created an unrepresentative Parliament and contributed to a record low voter turnout.

[Note: The following commentary is based on returns at 2am ET.]

The chief victims of the October 14 federal election were:

- Green Party: 940,000 voters supporting the Green Party sent no one to Parliament, setting a new record for the most votes cast for any party that gained no parliamentary representation. By comparison, 813,000 Conservative voters in Alberta alone were able to elect 27 MPs.
- Prairie Liberals and New Democrats: In the prairie provinces, Conservatives received roughly twice the vote of the Liberals and NDP, but took seven times as many seats.
- Urban Conservatives: Similar to the last election, a quarter-million Conservative voters in Toronto elected no one and neither did Conservative voters in Montreal.
- New Democrats: The NDP attracted 1.1 million more votes than the Bloc, but the voting system gave the Bloc 50 seats, the NDP 37.

“How can anyone consider this democratic representation?” asked Barbara Odenwald, President of Fair Vote Canada.
Had the votes on October 14 been cast under a fair and proportional voting system, Fair Vote Canada projected that the seats allocation would have been approximately as follows:

Conservatives - 38% of the popular vote: 117 seats (not 143)
Liberals - 26% of the popular vote: 81 seats (not 76)
NDP - 18% of the popular vote: 57 seats (not 37)
Bloc - 10% of the popular vote: 28 seats (not 50)
Greens - 7% of the popular vote: 23 seats (not 0)

Fair Vote Canada also has data for each province on the number of seats won and number of seats actually deserved by each party.

Odenwald emphasized that any projection on the use of other voting systems must be qualified, as specific system features would affect the exact seat allocations.

“With a different voting system, people would also have voted differently,” said Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada. “There would have been no need for strategic voting. We would likely have seen higher voter turnout. We would have had different candidates - more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We would have had more real choices.”
Fair Vote Canada (FVC) is a national multi-partisan citizens’ campaign to promote voting system reform. FVC was founded in 2001 and has a National Advisory Board of distinguished Canadians from all points on the political spectrum

Fair Vote Canada
26 Maryland Blvd.
Toronto, ON M4C 5C9
phone: 416-410-4034
cell: 647-519-7585

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Great Black-Out of '08

With former Enron executives now at the helm of BC Hydro, is it any surprise that most of Vancouver Island was without power for a couple of hours on an otherwise calm, stormless Thanksgiving Sunday?

It's like artificially inflating gas prices through the summer, only to lower them just prior to the election. Never forget those 'Conservatives' are not the red tories of days gone by ..... the Conservative party died after Brian Mulroney used it to shove NAFTA down our throats, and it was rebuilt by the ultra-right. Who knows what their pre-election tactics might involve as they quest for ultimate power over us all.

In fact, speculations are that Thanksgiving Sunday's two hour (0r thereabouts) blackout was either another trick to scare people into the arms of the enemy, or it was the revenge of reincarnated turkeys who've finally had enough of the annual slaughter. Wonder what they've got cooked up for Christmas?

Actually, the real reason for the blackout was Chris, whose great manly task this Thanksgiving was to select the appropriate dimmer setting in the dining room. (It's amazing the men-folk survive all the stress of these holidays, considering the many tasks they traditionally undertake). Chris was in the midst of this onerous task, cautiously turning the dimmer switch to find the most perfect light setting, when the power cut. His immediate response was to convince us that this action alone had tripped the fuse. When we were later huddled around the radio, still obviously shaken from the two hours of dusk spent eating luke-warm but fully cooked tofurky dinner, listening to the tales of wisdom and woe emanating from those other of Vancouver Island's survivors, we wondered if we ought to call in and let CFAX listeners know that the secret to Vancouver Island's electric power is contained in the dimmer switch in Marion's dining room?!??

But how could we tell our story of ultimate power after listening to the horrendous tales from our island neighbours? There was the woman sitting in her car in the garage because her Metchosin house was getting cold, and a subsequent caller reminding us never to start the engine unless the garage door is open .... the guy with his hand up the turkey and the burn he suffered as a result of not being able to see into the oven .... the store clerk forced to use the old mechanical visa machine (and maybe the abacus as well) .... the outraged woman insisting on billing BC Hydro for the melted ice cream in her freezer .... what's she supposed to do, build a bon-fire in the living room??!!!!

The Great Blackout of '08 conjured memories of the Great Storm of '96, and CFAX was at the ready, cancelling their previously scheduled programming and prepared to accept their established role as Radio Saviours, guiding us through the turmoil.

Good luck voting tomorrow - don't let your fear guide you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

i don't remember voting for that ......

CPP Loss at $25 Billion

It will be February before we know how much the Canada Pension Plan recently lost on the stock market, but a fair guess is $25 billion disappeared between the end of the first quarter on June 30th and October 8th. On June 30th the CPP had $127.7 billion in assets, $79.2 billion of which was in equities. On June 30th the TSX composite index was 14,467; on October 8th it was 10,056, a drop of 30.5%. Of course, CPP's third quarter doesn't end until December 31st, so it will be February before we see a report to the end of the third quarter. We can all hope that the index is above 10,056 by then, but it could be even lower. What is happening to the CPP is also happening to pension plans, RRSPs, RRIPs and investment accounts. That is why it is irresponsible for Prime Minister Harper to dismiss the stock market as something that always goes up and down, and to say that it probably presents good buying opportunities today. Mr. Harper isn't showing the kind of empathy that Canadians expect and deserve.

Many economists are inclined to follow the advice of John Maynard Keynes and dismiss stock markets as glorified casinos. They may be right, but that doesn't mean the markets are unimportant. In addition to determining the asset value of pension plans, they provide an important means for companies to raise money they need for investment in real assets, plant and equipment. Nevertheless, the damage to the stock markets is merely collateral damage in the larger crisis.

The financial disaster rooted in the U.S. subprime housing fiasco is sweeping the world. Some of the world's largest financial institutions gambled by making loans to people who can't repay the loans. The immediate effect is the devaluation of assets on the balance sheets of banks and other financial institutions. When the values that disappear start to equal the net worth of the institutions, bankruptcy results or what's left is grabbed up in a takeover; that wouldn't be such a bad thing if it weren't for the consequences for everyone else. Failing financial institutions cause credit to dry up - no loans for car purchases, home construction, payroll or anything else. If you don't think that affects us in BC, read the financial pages of any paper. The Olympic Village in Vancouver may be in trouble over refinancing. Construction on a hotel at the foot of Lonsdale in North Vancouver is stalled. Municipalities are struggling over financing sewer and water projects. Alcan has put capital plans on hold. BC is not immune from the world wide crisis, and the effects are not just what you see on the stock markets. Jobs that would otherwise be created won't be, and those that exist now may soon be threatened.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's solution for the crisis is to strike a committee and consult the regulatory authorities on ideas like extending deposit insurance from $100,000 to $250,000. Most Canadians don't have $100,000 in the bank, and those that do know that they can spread their deposits around and effectively get over $1,000,000 in deposit insurance. One of the members of Dion's committee would probably be former Premier and Finance Minister Paul Martin, the guy who made the Canada Pension Plan invest most of your money in the stock market.

There aren't going to be any quick fixes to the worldwide economic crisis. The difference between now and the great depression is that governments recognize that they have a major role to play in rescuing financial institutions and stimulating the economy. This crisis could force even the political right to admit that the role of government is essential. The era of the deregulators should be over. The challenge will be to choose political leaders who know how to use the power of government in such a crisis, and who know for whom that power should be used.
© 2008 David D. Schreck.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

welcome to the 'extraordinary period.'

i'm listening to cbc radio this morning (there's a strike at uvic's student union building where cfuv is housed so i'm reluctantly abstaining as a way to show solidarity), and i can see the twinkling lights of america from the window of the doggie's house i'm minding. the cbc tells me that finance minister jim flaherty is attempting to assure canadians that our economy will remain strong as we move through this 'extraordinary period.'

this brings to mind several things that, even in the sleepiness of the morning (in which i awoke, as i expect many others did with some degree of concern about what the near future holds) seem worth scribing despite my very sore arm/shoulder (that some combination of basset hounds and computering constructed):

1. the cubans called their greatest financial crisis a 'special period.' ours is being referred to as an 'extraordinary period.' it's interesting that even now, as the cubans rebuild after four hurricanes caused the most damage they've seen in their fifty year revolution, health care and education remain their priorities. it was the same during their 'special period.' health care, and education. education, and health care. the revolution remains about and for the people.

2. while america's idea of a solution to an economic crisis is to put the private debt into public hands and bankrupt their people, the cuban government responded to enormous crop loss (resulting from the hurricanes) by transferring state owned land (presumably sugar cane cropland, previously stolen from the people by america's united fruit company) to qualifying farmers so they can grow food. the cuban government wants to grow food to feed their highly educated and very healthy people; the american government wants to grow money to feed their fat rich greedy corporate fuckheads.

3. which direction will canada go? will we follow america to its grave, or will be hold strong to our socialist roots? lester pearson, tommy douglas .... where are you? what would you do?

4. if you think we're just now entering an 'extraordinary period,' a recession, you might talk to any one of the several thousand people rendered homeless the past few years about the strength of the economy.

5. are we bc taxpayers really going to go through with that atrocious two week billion dollar party in 2010?

6. how many lies are the corporate media going to propagate before people realize what's going on there?

7. what's really happening in argentina, and bolivia, and cuba, and nicaragua, and other parts of south and central america who have established themselves and their economic systems as distinct from the capitalist imf and world bank? who's best poised to weather this 'extraordinary' storm?

the time's ripe for a bloodless revolution! -- from our little island to theirs ........... hasta la victoria siempre!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Trees Felled in Cathedral Grove

i was amazed that, even in his final stages of alzheimer's, my dad remembered visiting the people living in the trees to protect the forest. dad, wherever you are .... the greedy buggers are at it again, trying to kill our precious earth!


While the logging company claims that there is a buffer of 300 metres between the falling area and the internationally renowned park, the reality is that the buffer is actually the Cameron River which meanders along the bottom of the Valley at that point just before flowing into Cameron Lake. This water then flows into the Little Qualicum River which is the source of drinking water for thousands of residents of Whiskey Creek and the Town of Qualicum Beach.

Dear Supporters of Cathedral Grove.

Friends of Cathedral Grove will be coordinating gatherings of those interested in showing there is great concern for an imminent logging program by Island Timberlands in Cathedral Grove. The logging will occur near the boundary of MacMillan Park but still within what is considered the ancient, old-growth forest. Deforestation near the park is changing the hydrology and putting all remaining forest in the valley-bottom at risk. Several organizations have expressed interest in acquiring more of the Cameron River valley, including the Nature Trust of B.C, preferably with the ancient trees intact. Below are two articles for your information, 1 local & 1 International

We seek your support by attending these events. Please bring friends and help show the media that people still care about Cathedral Grove.

Visitor Parking Area Cathedral Grove Provincial Park 11 am Sunday, October 5, 2008


Main Gate
Island Timberlands' Nanoose Yard Northwest Bay Road & Inland Highway (At the lights just south of Parksville) 11 am Monday, October 6, 2008

Please bring signs with these suggested exhortations


IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND OR WANT TO DO A LITTLE MORE PLEASE CONTACT THE FOLLOWING WITH ANY CONCERNS (This can really help a lot because they hate bad PR since it can effect their bottom line!)

Brooksfield Timber Division Leigh Tang Telephone: (604) 661-9143 E-mail:

Makenzie Leine, Island Timberlands manager of sustainability and community affairs - Telephone: (250) 755-3500

Darshan Sihota, Island Timberlands President - Telephone: (250) 755-3531

Island Timberlands Woodlands Office 5th Floor, 65 Front Street Nanaimo, BC Canada V9R 5H9 Fax: (250) 755-3540




Gordon Hamilton
Vancouver Sun - Friday, January 04, 2008

Brookfield Asset Management, which owns 50 per cent of one of Vancouver Island's largest forest companies, Island Timberlands, is spinning off its timber and power assets into a Bermuda-based partnership to create an offshore investment vehicle.

Read more here.

For more information visit the Cathedral Grove Website.

From: Richard Boyce

Friday, October 3, 2008

Solidarity Rally at UVic

On September 30th a bunch of representatives from different unions gathered for a solidarity bbq to throw their support behind the striking workers at the University of Victoria's Student Union Buidling.

For five weeks workers in the allegedly student owned and managed student union building have been walking the picket lines in their attempt to secure a living wage. They currently earn less than $10 an hour while their CFS representatives lobby the federal and provincial governments for an increase in the minimum wage and a recent report shows that $12 something per hour is required to live a decent life here in Victoria.

Click here for a full hour's audio of the event.

Click here for photos.