Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Congratulations Councillor Johnstone

And speaking of things that are long overdue for posting, I have been remiss in writing a congratulatory posting to my friend, Patrick Johnstone, on his recent election to New Westminster City Council. As you may recall from this posting, I was helping out on Pat’s election campaign because I thought he’d make an excellent city councillor and, apparently, other people in New Westminster agreed with me, because Pat was one of 6 people elected to city council, along with a new mayor and 7 school trustees. On election night I actually went to city hall to watch election results roll in, which was a lot more fun than you’d expect from staring at a screen with tiny little font where nothing happened for long periods of time and then the results would pop up from another poll and everyone would start excitedly talking about where in that city the poll was and who got lots of votes from it and what it all meant. After that, a bunch of us headed down to the campaign office and there was a big party!

Incidentally, “participate in a political campaign” is on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, so that means I get to knock that item off the list! Which means I’ve done 15 things from my 101 lists ((3 from my previous list and 12 from my current list) in 2014. Which is far less than my goal of 28 things, so I really better get going, as there’s less than a month left!

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Campaign Curling

On Sunday, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for years1 – I learned how to curl! It was all part of a FUNdraiser for my friend, Patrick Johnstone, who is running for New West City Council in next month’s municipal election.

Ice at the Royal City Curling Club
Ice at the Royal City Curling Club, waiting for us to start our curling lesson!

The event took place the Royal City Curling Club. We got a chance to learn some of the curling basics – how to throw the stone so it goes where you want it to go, how to sweep the ice to get the stone to go further and straighter, how to walk on ice without falling – all the important curling skills2! After practicing all of this stuff – which was far more complicated than one would expect just from watching the game – we got to play two ends, with a little bit of help from a coach (because honestly, I had no idea how to tell if the stone was going fast enough to get where we wanted it to go (and thus we shouldn’t sweep) or if it was going too slow and sweeping was needed). Our game was a close one – my team won 3-1 after the two ends3.

Curling 5 Oct 2017
Group shot of all the curlers for the day.

I have to say, curling is a lot more fun to play than it is to watch and as with many things, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the sport now that I’ve tried it myself4.

After all that, there was delicious food from Re-Up BBQ and beer from Steel & Oak – two fantastic local New West businesses – and a chance to chat with other New Westies.

Untitled
Delicious cake decorated like one of Pat’s campaign buttons

Most importantly of all though, this was a fundraiser, and it was really great to see a sold out event in support of Pat’s campaign for city council. I’ve been helping out on Pat’s campaign5 in the form of door knocking with him6, because I think he’ll make an excellent city councilor. He’s really passionate – and extremely knowledgeable – about New West. And I really like his approach – as we’ve been out door knocking, he’s asking New West residents what their concerns and ideas for the city are. He listens to people and he answers any questions they have for him in a direct and transparent way7 – and when he doesn’t know the answer to a particular question he says “I don’t know, but I will find out for you.” He bases his position on any given subject on reason and evidence – and when there’s not enough evidence available he says “We don’t know enough to make an informed decision. X is the evidence we need to make an informed decision on this and Y is where we’d need to get that information” That’s the kind of approach that I would like to see in my government – receptive to the publics concerns, reasoned and evidence-based decision making, and transparency in the process. Anyway, if you are a New Westie, I encourage you to check out his campaign website for more information on his campaign and to donate!

  1. And which I inexplicably didn’t include on my “101 things to do in 1001 days list”. []
  2. Everyone already know how to yell “HURRY HARD!!!!” – no coaching required on that front. []
  3. No thanks to me, I have to say. I was OK at throwing the stone in practice but sucked pretty badly during the actual game! []
  4. I’m still not going to watch it when it’s on TV and I still think it would be better if there was a 3 second shot clock between when one stone stops and the next one must be thrown – watching people stand around and think for several minutes is SO BORING! – and it also needs 200% more yelling. But I have more appreciation for the skill required having now tried doing it myself. []
  5. Item #57 on my 101 list! []
  6. Though with other tasks still to come! []
  7. I’ve learned a lot about the city just by going around door knocking with him and listening to his answers to people’s questions! []

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Help @TheTyee Go National!

First of all, watch this video:

Canada needs more independent voices from The Tyee on Vimeo.

So, I’m sure you can see why this campaign appeals to me. Facts – I’m a big fan of those. In depth, well-researched investigations into news stories instead of sound bites of 140 characters or less – that sounds pretty cool to me. The world is complicated and nuanced and I appreciate having a news source that gets that. And yeah, maybe there’s a bit of BC pride in there – we’ve got something pretty cool, and it’s time the rest of the country got to join in too. And supporting The Tyee to go national is something where I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

They are trying to raise $100,000 and are well on their way, but there’s only 14 days to reach their target. I hope you’ll consider support them and/or spreading the word!

And there’s an added bonus for any Canadian politics nerds out there that’s not mentioned in the video, but that you can see if you go to their campaign page: if you sign up to support them at a level of $15/month or more, you get paper dolls of the Canadian political party leaders, complete with multiple outfits. (Spoiler: Yes, the Stephen Harper one comes complete with kittens!)

In related news – expect to see some blog postings featuring those paper dolls here on NTBTWK sometime soon!

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Important Issues in Canadian Politics – Is Canada a Safe Haven for Zombies?

From the Canadian House of Parliament:

Props to Kalev for bringing this important piece of Canadian politics to my attention!

For those who are interested, here’s a link to the CDC’s zombie preparedness plan, as referred to by the Honourable Pat Martin in the video.

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Did You Vote Today?

So it’s municipal election day in British Columbia, the day we get to vote for mayors, city councillors, and school board trustees. And given that I know jack squat about Surrey politics, I decided I should read the candidate statements before I headed off to the polls.  First of all, there about about eleventy billion people running for council, so it took me ages to get through the statements. Secondly, it’s pretty challenging to figure out what everyone is really about from these short statements, especially when so many people, just spew off platitudes. Of course everyone wants to make the city a safer place with good schools, nice parks, better roads, better transit, businesses that succeed, and unicorns covered in pixie dust. But how, exactly, they are going to do that is never mentioned. Is it so much to ask to see some concrete ideas?

What’s particularly galling are the candidates who are making claims they will provide all sorts of things – new stadiums, new schools, new hospitals, more Skytrain, better pay for municipal employees, more teachers in schools, etc., etc. AND no increases in taxes. I mean, seriously, do these individuals have no idea how a government works? Governments get money from taxes. Buying things costs money. It’s not rocket science, people.

And finally, what’s the deal with political parties calling themselves “non-partisan”? Our good friend Wikipedia tells us:

In politics, partisan literally means organized into political parties. The expression “partisan politics” usually refers to fervent, sometimes militant, support of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.

Presumably these so-called non-partisan parties are trying to distance themselves from the of “fervent, sometimes militant,” connotation of the word, but technically they are saying that they are a political party that is not a political party. Am I the one one who finds this ridiculous?

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Today, It Rains

Jack Layton, Leaders Tour - Tournée du Chef - Jack LaytonI woke up to the news that Jack Layton passed away this morning at the age of 61. This is heart breaking. My heart goes out, first and foremost, to his wife, Olivia Chow, and their children. And it also goes out to our country because we’ve lost a great man today. A man who always fought for what he believed in, who brought so much to politics in Canada. The NDP gained Official Opposition status on the strength of his leadership and vision. He gave so much to this country and, at 61, he had so much left to give. I am deeply, deeply saddened that we will never get to see a Prime Minister Jack Layton.

It seems only appropriate that after a week of sunshine, and before another week of sunshine, today it rains.

P1090627 Tribute For Jack Layton - College Street Bike Lane Toronto

I’m so fucking sick of cancer taking all the good people.

Goodbye, Jack. You will be missed.

Image Credit:

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Election Day!

As you would entirely not be able to tell from my blogging of late, today is a federal election in Canada. But despite my lack of blogging about the subject, I (like a surprising number of Canadians this time) have actually been quite engaged in this election: reading the actual platforms of the parties (as well as news articles/opinion pieces), watching the leaders’ debate, trying to figure out how best to vote to get rid of the Conservative in my riding, and talking to people IRL1.

And this morning before work, I went to the polls and did the most important thing of all: I voted!

Day 315

I love to vote first thing in the morning on election day, because there are never any lineups2. I didn’t vote in the advance polls because, like my friend Cath, I wanted to keep an eye on what the polls said right up until today, as my strategy was to vote tactically.

Also, it just wouldn’t be an election without me destroying a Conservative party brochure – see here and here and here and here for past iterations:

I have to say, I look mighty pleased with myself in that video.

And now I’m settling in for a night of election result watching!

Update (2 May 2011 – 10:49 p.m.) – This is entirely depressing. Contrary to the perception I had that everyone was *so engaged* in this election3, voter turnover was abysmal, with only ~55% of eligible voters showing up to vote. Thanks for nothing, 45% of Canadians who could have voted and didn’t.

  1. In real life. []
  2. I hear that there are usually big lineups later in the day, as most people tend to go after work instead. []
  3. A perception that came in part because that’s what the media was portraying and in part, I’m thinking, because I happen to hang around with (and follow on Twitter), the type of people who actually engage – clearly not a representative sample of Canadians []

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Random Whatever

So I decided to stay in tonight because (a) I’ve been doing entirely too many things lately and I’m freaking exhausted, (b) I still haven’t recovered sleep from last weekend’s hockey playoffs1 and (c) I have a bunch of end-of-term marking to do. And here it is 11:30 p.m. and I haven’t done a stitch of marking2 and I just realized that I hadn’t even blogged today! D’oh! Too bad I phoned in a blog posting so recently – so I can’t do that again! Instead, I give you a few random thoughts:

  • My sister was quoted in this news article about going to an organic spa as a preggo. They make a point of noting that she does not own a car. Hippy.
  • Looks like the riding I’m now in federally is a bit of a Conservative stronghold. Boo-urns.
  • Speaking of the Conservatives, this site is hilarious: http://www.stephenharperisatotallynormalguy.com/
  • Have you donated to the Longest Game for CF yet? The very first donation that was received in my name was from someone that I don’t know, but who I am pretty sure is one of my blog readers3. So thank you, blog reader of mine! Your donation is very much appreciated!
  1. seriously, who schedules games at the unholy hours of 10:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. on weekend days?? []
  2. though I did respond to some student emails, so that’s something at least []
  3. As the donation amount was $24.20, something that I mentioned in my blog posting. []

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BC Premier #32 – Canada’s First Indo-Canadian Premier

So BC has a new premier! The BC So-Called Liberals chose Christy Clark, former Deputy Premier and former radio show host on WGYY1, to replace lame duck Gordo as the leader of their party and, thus, our new premier. And it reminded me that I never did finish my series on BC Premiers that I started eleventy thousand years ago. Hence today’s posting on the 32nd premier of BC, Ujjal Dosanjh.

Ujjal Dosanjh Name Ujjal Dev Singh Dosanjh
Born: September 9, 1947 in Jalandhar, India
Died: hasn’t
Party: NDP
Held Office: February 24, 2000 – June 5, 2001
  • 1964: left India to get his education in the UK
  • 1968: immigrated to Canada, living in BC with his aunt
  • 1976: earned his law degree at UBC
  • 1979: opened his own law practice (family & personal injury law)
  • other stuff he did: “taught English as a Second Language at Vancouver Community College; worked as an assistant editor of a local Punjabi newspaper.” Involved with “community organizations included founding the Farm Workers’ Legal Information Service (later Canadian Farm Workers’ Union), serving on the board of directors for BC Civil Liberties Associationand the Vancouver Multicultural Society, and the Labour Advocacy Research Association, as well as volunteer work with MOSAIC Immigrant Services Centre, and the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House”2.
  • 1979: ran in the provincial election for the NDP party, but lost to the So-Cred candidate
  • 1983: ibid
  • 1985: attacked outside his office by an assailant opposed to his speaking out against “against violence by Sikh extremists who advocated Khalistan independence from India”3; Dosanjh is a “prominent moderate Sikh.”
  • 1991: won the Vancouver-Kensington riding as an NDP MLA
  • 1993: “chaired the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills”
  • 1995: become Minister of Government Services and Minister Responsible for Sports in April, then also the Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism and Human Rights in July and then in August his portfolio was changed to Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism, Human Rights and Immigration and he was appointed as the Attorney General. I’m guessing he was pretty tired in 1995.
  • 1996: won the Vancouver-Kensington riding as an NDP MLA again
  • 1999: his “constituency office was broken into and a Molotov cocktail left burning on a table.
  • Feb 24, 2000: Won the party leadership and thus became the Premier. This made him Canada’s first Indo-Canadian Premier. He was also the first Canadian Premier to march in a gay pride parade.
  • other stuff he did: “gave priority to issues of health care, education, and balanced budgets.” and “increased spending was mostly directed to renovations of hospital, public schools and higher education institutions, as well as building cancer treatment centers, lowering post-secondary tuition fees, and creating significantly more new spaces in the province’s apprenticeship program and post-secondary institutions… “the provincial government adopted the Definition of Spouse Amendment Act which extended equal rights to same-sex couples.the Legislative Assemblyadopted the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Recovery Act which permitted lawsuits against tobacco organizations to re-coup associated health care expenses, the Sex Offender Registry Act, and the Protection of Public Participation Act which prevented lawsuits against citizens who participated in public processes.”
  • 2001: Despite the fact that Dosanjh polled as much more popular than his competitor, Gordon Campbell of the So-Called BC Liberals, in the run up to the election, the NDP was very unpopular after Glen Clark and the NDP were trounced in the 2001 election. Dosanjh lost his own seat in Vancouver-Kensington and the So-Called Liberals won all but two of the 79 seats in the provincial legislature
  • 2003: “awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Expatriate Indian Honour) from Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. The award recognizes individual excellence in various fields for persons of Indian origin across the world.
  • 2004: recruited to the federal Liberal party by then-Prime Minister Paul Martin as part of a campaign to bring “All-Star” BC candidates to the party. Dosanjh won his seat as the MP for Vancouver South in the June 2004 election. He’s done a bunch of stuff in federal politics, but I’m not going to summarize them here since this blog posting is meant to be about him as BC Premier4.

In summary, he was the first Ind0-Canadian Premier, which is pretty cool. He also did a lot of stuff. Writing about him makes me tired, that’s how much he did.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. Creative Commons License. w00t!

References:
Wikipedia, the reference of champions

Footnotes:

  1. White Guy (Or Girl, in this case) Yelling At You Radio []
  2. all from Wikipedia ‘cuz I’m just that lazy []
  3. again from The Wikipedia []
  4. and also I’m lazy. If you are interested, you can check out his Wikipedia page. That’s all I do anyway []

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The Diefenbunker!


Beth at the Diefenbunker

The last time I was in Ottawa, Sarah and Dave’s attempt to bring me to the Diefenbunker was thwarted by holiday closure of said bunker. On this trip, to make it up to me, Ottawa gave Sarah & me free admission! More specifically, the Ottawa Public Library offered free admission and Sarah, a regular at said Library, picked up said free passes so that she and I could enjoy all the awesomeness of Canada’s Cold War Museum for free, free, free! Poor Dave couldn’t join us as he had to work, like a sucker!

Sarah at the DiefenbunkerThe Diefenbunker, which operated from 1959 to 1994 as previously alluded to, is Canada’s Cold War Museum. More specifically, it is a bunker that was built, under the government of Prime Minister Diefenbaker – who you may remember from my Prime Ministerial series as the blog posting guest written by the aforementioned Sarah – as a place that prominent Canada politicians – along with all the gold in the Bank of Canada – could go in the event that Ottawa got nuked with an atomic bomb. Back in those days, everyone was sure that it was pretty much inevitable that such a thing would happen, so a series of bunkers were built across the country, with the biggest and most elaborate one being the Diefenbunker, locate 30 km west of Ottawa and intended for the Prime Minister, the Governor General, various federal Ministers and military big wigs. The idea was that they wanted to ensure that Canada could be re-built and governed after a nuclear attack and so they needed the people with the power to do that to be kept safe in this bunker. Plus they needed the money to do it – hence the giant vault built to house all the gold from the Bank of Canada1.

Of course, such a bunker system was only useful in the event that there was enough forewarning of a nuke on its way that all these important people could be brought to the bunker before the bomb hit. Which was true when they started building the bunker – the delivery of bombs via plane from Russia at that time would have been slow and there would have been several hours warning of such a bomb on its way. By the time it was finished, that wasn’t really true anymore, but that didn’t stop the bunker from being staffed for many years after it was built! In fact, it was operated until 1994.

After decommissioning, the bunker was turned into a museum and much to the surprise of even the people running it as a museum, people were clamouring to see it! I mean, how often do you get to see the inside of a previously secret government facility like that? If you ever find yourself in Ottawa, I highly recommend you check it out. It feels like walking onto the set of a movie about the Cold War2 and I had to keep reminding myself, “no, this is the real deal!”

Also, in a move that I can only imagine coming from a guy like him, Dief never once set foot in the Diefenbunker. At some point, he was told that should he need to go to the bunker, he would not be allowed to bring his wife with him. The bunker was built to accommodate the government officials and bureaucrats deemed necessary, along with the support staff needed to run the bunker3, plus two CBC radio personalities who could broadcast messages in familiar and comforting voices to those left up on the ground – around 500 people in total – and stocked with enough food to sustain those people for 30 days (at which point it was felt that it would be safe to go back outside). If all those people were allowed to bring spouses (and not even their kids), it would need to be twice as big and stocked with twice as many supplies – and that just wasn’t feasible. And it was decided that if everyone else in the bunker was leaving their spouse behind, how could the Prime Minister not do the same? Dief decided that he wouldn’t leave his wife behind to get nuked and so he boycotted the facility, refusing to ever step foot into it.

Another interesting story that the tour guide told us was what happened to all the other bunkers around the country. When the bunkers were decommissioned, the government had to figure out what to do with them. After all, they couldn’t all be museums – and truly it’s just the Ottawa one that was really big and decked out – so what do you do with a series of underground bunkers designed to withstand a nuclear bomb? At first, they figured they could sell them to recoup some of the costs of building them all, and they sold one of the bunkers to a farmer. A farmer who proceeded to sell the bunker to some Hell’s Angels, who used it as a clubhouse! Realizing that they didn’t want the bunkers to fall into the hands of just anybody and that they could control what happened to them once they sold them off, they bought the bunker back from the HA and proceeded to fill them all up with concrete!

The next time you find yourself in Ottawa, I highly recommend a trip to the Diefenbunker!  They have guided tours as well as self-guide audio tours – we did the guided tour, which was cool because you can ask their tour guide questions and find out things that might not be on the audio version, and then after your guided tour you are free to roam around and check out the different exhibits!

  1. When we were talking about our trip to the Diefenbunker later at Sarah’s parents house, Sarah’s dad said his favourite part of this is that if the bunker ever needed to be used, it would take hundreds of people to get all the gold from the Bank of Canada in Ottawa onto a train, ship it to the bunker, and then load it all into the vault in the bunker. And then those men would be sent back on that train to Ottawa to wait to get nuked! []
  2. and, in fact, it as used as a set for The Sum of All Fears, because where else are you going to find a nuclear bunker that you can film your movie in? []
  3. think cooks, doctors, nurses, mechanics, etc. []