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What Democracy?

Peter Wright

Peter Wright

As the oldie Frank Sinatra sang about love and marriage, “you can’t have one without the other”. Without free speech, there can be no free press and without that, there can be no democracy. Even at the best of times which these surely are not, A.J. Libeling summed up the sad truth when he said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

We know that these days, owners of newspapers and TV/radio stations themselves self censor – I’ll deal with that later.

Free speech cannot be a theory or in the abstract. It must be a living segment of democracy. We have yet to experience democracy in modern terms and we’re steadily moving further away from it.

There must be reasonable restraints, of course. In the tiresome old saw, shouting “fire” when there is none in a theatre is an exception as are incitements to do something wrong. Moreover, there will always be questions of morality such as TV shows showing explicit sex violence or kiddie porn but in assessing limitations to free speech we cannot permit perfection to become the enemy of improvement. Continue Reading »

Justice served is less about vengeance, more about preventing further crimes.

Justice served is less about vengeance, more about preventing further crimes.

We need a stronger option for hospital imprisonment.

I write this with considerable trepidation. The chances are very good that the reader will misunderstand what I am saying and conclude that either I favour kiddie porn and things like that or that I am soft on people who commit sexual offences, or both. Neither of these things are true at all. I only urge that this column be read carefully, and thought about for a bit of time.

Anytime we read about a sex attack, we immediately say that the man (it’s usually a man) is sick. In saying that, we’re absolutely right. All of the medical evidence indicates that sexual perversion, for want of a better phrase, is not something that one possesses deliberately. Nobody wakes up one morning and decides to be a sexual predator.

That being so, why don’t we treat him as a sick person, not a criminal? If a person is certified insane and commits the most horrible, violent crimes, we put him in the hospital, not in jail. With sex offences, it’s off to the slammer. My question is why? Read full article at The Tyee

The big roar!

Byron BaileyIn today’s Sun sports page, there is a wonderful article by Mike Beamish on the 1964 BC Lions, who that year won their first Grey Cup. This was the year after they lost it in Vancouver when Angela Mosca of the Hamilton Tiger Cats, their 1964 opponents, very illegally piled on Willie Fleming after the play had ended and out of bounds to boot knocking the great Willie out of the game. The Lions and their fans had that very much in mind in 1964!

Willie Fleming – alive and looking good – was one of the most exciting running backs anywhere, ever. He had starred with Iowa before coming to BC alongside Bob Jeter who also came here. Oddly, in college it was Jeter who was the big star!

We old Vancouverites had suffered since 1954 when the Lions came to town with great fanfare but it took 10 years for them to make the national finals and 11 to win it. Those were very tough years to be a fan.

The 1964 Lions were indeed a memorable team as Mike points out. Tom Brown, the best linebacker the CFL has ever had, was probably as good as there has ever been. He now lives in New Westminster. Continue Reading »

The Simushir under tow from US tugboat Barbara Foss (via Maritime Forces Pacific Facebook)

The Simushir under tow from US tugboat Barbara Foss (via Maritime Forces Pacific Facebook)

The incapacitation of a Russian cargo vessel off Haida Gwaii caused great panic amongst all of us who watched the events unfold over the past weekend. The seas were very heavy – not an unusual state of affairs for that part of the world at this and other times of the year.

For very good reason, the Haida Nation was extremely worried and upset about the developments. It looked up for a while is if they might have to deal with this themselves and, course, although they were prepared to use and sacrifice their own vessels, none of these were built for this kind of an emergency. Eventually, the chance intervention of an American tugboat got the situation under control.

During the time of this emergency, the story was covered regularly on the BBC and CNN, in addition to our own local news. It was a national and international news event. One ship! No accident! No oil-soaked beaches! No dead and dying birds! Read full article at The Common Sense Canadian

Rotten Apple

iPadIt is with some regret that I form today Apple Haters International. I will be the interim president until the thousands of prospective members from all around the world come, as I suspect, within the next few hours, and we can democratically elect a Board of Trustees, militant variety.

There is, of course, a reason for this dramatic move.

I have an Apple iPad which I got last spring. I bought this damned thing because I wanted to have a small computer into which I could dictate articles like this.

I must say, that I am not what you would call computer friendly. I have used one since 1984 and have always fought them. I have no instinct for the things. I am no better with TV sets or any other mechanical object.

I hold the view, however, that it is people like me who need tender, loving care from computer manufacturers. The geeks need no help – my sort of which there are hundreds of thousands, nay millions, do. Continue Reading »

Cartoon by Ingrid Rice.

Cartoon by Ingrid Rice.

As BC’s promised gas boom goes pffft, Premier Clark must come clean.

The entire question of LNG has reached a sorry pass indeed. The premier’s policy seems to be crumbling before our eyes.

Let’s not forget that Premier Clark and her Liberals pulled the 2013 election out of the jaws of defeat by promising a Liquefied Natural Gas industry to the extent of a trillion dollar addition to the economy, $100 billion into a “prosperity fund,” an LNG plant built by 2015, and all of our debts paid off. We would be on easy street.

But the whole business on the eve of 2015 is at square one. There is no commitment by any company to build an LNG plant in British Columbia. That these election promises were preposterous, as I and many more expert than I said at the time, is patently obvious.

Now, the chickens have come home to roost. Negotiations with Petronas, the only LNG company apparently interested, have descended into a public squabble. Read full article at The Tyee

Fighting words

Henrik Sedin

Henrik Sedin

I am off hockey as many of you will know.

It should’ve been a great start for the season. For the Rafe of old, the Canadiens beat the Leafs on opening night, in Toronto, 4 to 3 scoring the winning goal with 33 seconds to go and not on a power-play. In days of yore that would’ve sent me down to the Georgia Beer Parlour to look for Leaf fans to hassle. Moreover, for the Rafe of today, the Canucks won their first game.

My disaffection could not have been more neatly summed up than by the opposite of recent statements by Brian Burke, now of the Calgary Flames, uncritically supporting the violence of today and vowing that we’ll see lots of it from his team.

I should tell you, we have a history. Many years ago, Burke tried to get me fired from CKNW merely because I had said, on air, that Brian Burke gets into the asshole Hall of Fame without the usual five year waiting period. I have not changed my mind. Continue Reading »

Cover of 2013 Petronas annual report

Cover of 2013 Petronas annual report

The Christy Clark government’s back down on LNG, as evidenced by the throne speech, is an admission that Ms Clark and her colleagues misled the public in the 2013 election and is an unmitigated disgrace.

As we all remember, Ms. Clark, found herself badly behind in that election. Something had to be done. She turned to Brad Bennett, son of and a grandson of former BC premiers. He, and his chamber of commerce enthusiasm, were just what the doctor ordered.

A story was concocted and there is no other word for it because it didn’t just come out of thin air. In fairness, I don’t know if Mr. Bennett played a role in this.

The story – LNG was going to be a $1 trillion industry in British Columbia, bring $100 billion into a so called prosperity fund, pay off all our debts, and ensure BC prosperity for all time. All we need do was re-elect Christy Clark and Co. This was, as said by many of us at the time, arrant bullshit. There was absolutely no reason to believe any of this. Continue Reading »

A Pot Pourri

Art Sterritt. Photo by David P. Ball.

Art Sterritt. Photo by David P. Ball.

Learning that a substantial donation has been made to UBC for Alzheimers research brought to the attention of the public that former premier Bill Bennett is in an advanced stage of the disease. This is something that friends have known for some time. Wendy and I had dinner with Bill and Audrey just before Bill was diagnosed and after he had driven us to our hotel we each remarked that something was very different. He simply did not seem to be the same Bill Bennett.

Bill was, in my view, a first class premier. He will, as time passes, be rated in the top two or three. He also is a friend of mine. We are about four months apart in age and of course it shakes me a lot to realize where he is now and how lucky I am.

What a bitter irony it is that his old antagonist, Dave Barrett, is in exactly the same position at about the same age. These two men, who for 10 years battled it out in the legislature, now find themselves stricken by the same deadly disease. Continue Reading »

Surrey Mayor Diane Watts: Leaping from frontlines of city building into backbench backwaters?

Surrey Mayor Diane Watts: Leaping from frontlines of city building into backbench backwaters?

But then you decided to run for the Tories. Big mistake.

I thought that Dianne Watts, the about to be ex-mayor of Surrey, was a smart person.

Her decision to seek a federal seat for the Tories in next year’s election puts paid to that idea.

That Watts is a very capable person is beyond question. She probably has as good a political resume as one could possibly find. At one time rated the number four mayor in the entire world, she has a reputation for sound government, which by all accounts, is much deserved.

I question her smartness, not her capability.

I have written about this before, but I’m afraid I can’t quit until we, the somnolent public, finally understand how undemocratically our government is run. Read full article at The Tyee

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