December, 2009

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The IOC admits to Bullying?

Monday, December 28th, 2009

The IOC kicks London around

A symbol of the IOC

Recently on television in Vancouver, the host city of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, we have seen a superb animation ad of five super-giant athletes pulling on ropes, pulling the continents together. When they’ve finished, they do a “Hi-Five” over Egypt.

View it here: IOC – All Together Now

The Olympic Spirit Unites the world, implies the ad, sponsored by the IOC. Their goal is laudable enough. Yet one cannot help but notice a serious symbolic sub-text in the advertisement that also rings true. There is no other way to put it: The IOC is a bully.

You see, as the giant-athletes pick up the ropes they are about to pull on, they stomp heavily and without regard to where they are stepping. One blocks traffic, almost killing a driver. Another smashes her foot into a little village called “London” and, in bracing her foot on Big Ben, she  pushes the Houses of Parliament and nearby businesses aside, nearly crushing a double-decker bus.

There’s even a hockey player bracing himself against the rooftops of Yaletown after he’s crashed his way down our streets in the same way Godzilla would- much to the consternation of a local businessman and residents depicted in the video.

The herculean efforts of the IOC’s giant-athletes wantonly displace ordinary citizens, ordinary people, going about their everyday lives. And these giants are so big their actions can only go unopposed; they act with impunity, just as the IOC seems to do in real life.

The IOC, symbolically  represented by these giant athletes is telling us all, “We are bigger than any piddly town. We are more powerful than any stupid country. Our lofty goal of bringing the world together outranks any local interest, anywhere, and no matter the cause. Local communities are nothing to us and we don’t give a damn about what you think or how you feel.”

How could they have missed such a symbolic message, these high-powered international snobs, if they didn’t mean it? Marie Antoinette could not have said it better: “Let them eat Cake!” Given the events here in Vancouver over recent months involving the IOC and VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, it’s hard to miss this sub-text.

Here are four examples: a local business here in Vancouver, the Olympia Restaurant on Denman Street, was a fervent supporter of the Olympics coming to town. As a business, they have been around for decades and there had been no objection to the business being named “Olympia”. Suddenly, since Vancouver won the “Olympic” franchise in 2003, Olympia Pizza has been fighting a David and Goliath battle to keep their name and stay in business. They’ve held out so far- but at what expense?

Want to learn more about their plight? Check out http://998denman.com.

Then there was the Paramedic strike. Ambulance workers across British Columbia struck in March of this year. Their issues centered around staffing. In November the British Columbia government introduced legislation to end the strike and it turns out that VANOC and the IOC were behind the government’s initiative… using thinly veiled threats. As repugnant as the legislation was, it appears that the provincial government’s hands were tied.

A third example is the refusal to consider women ski jumping the 2010 Winter Olympics. The jumpers took the IOC and VANOC to court. And while the court found that keeping women out of the competition was discriminatory in Canada there was nothing the court could do because VANOC was merely an organizing committee and the IOC was based outside of this country. It was therefore not subject to Canadian law.

By the way, if you would like to support these world-class ski-jumping athletes to participate in the Winter Olympics, go to their site, www.wsj2010.com and sign their online petition.

My final example although there are many, many more, is that of free speech. One might recall Suharto, when he came to Vancouver and the now infamous APEC summit, the Indonesian despot didn’t want his sightseeing to be marred by demonstrations so for his convenience, protestors were muzzled and tear-gassed.

And so it is with the Olympics. In Canada, with free speech enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, signs posted in private residential windows protesting the games could be cause enough for the police to force their way in and remove the offending posters. And we are going to have Beijing-style “free speech zones” safely isolated from the Olympic action.

The goal of bringing the world closer together is a good one. Indeed, a significant majority affirmed the Olympic ideal when they endorsed Vancouver’s bid in a referendum.

But trampling on local communities along the way is not so good. And our experience here in Vancouver reinforces the fact that the IOC simply doesn’t care about the communities it is directly affecting. If a referendum were held today, Vancouverites would reject the games two to one.

This ad precisely demonstrates the IOC’s calloused treatment of its host cities. All in a pretty- and slick- one minute animated announcement. Watch out London- you’re next.

So thanks, IOC, for confirming what Vancouverites, many of them supporters, current and former, of the upcoming winter games, have come to believe. That the IOC is a corrupt, money-hungry boys-club, answerable and responsible to no one; that it is the ultimate aristocracy- one that deserves to be knocked down a peg or two.

Oh- and someone has knocked them down a peg. Check out Lululemon’s fab new line of sports-like wear called, and introduced to coincide with, “a Major Sporting Event Taking Place in British Columbia between 2009 and 2011”. Their jab the eye of the IOC and VANOC sums up many peoples’ sentiment exactly.

I, for one, will be buying my mitts from The Bay, the official supplier of Olympic clothing, but I’ll get my touque from Lululemon- the unofficial Aristocrat shin-kicker of the people.

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On Vancouver’s Streets

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

BC Hydro's Vandalism at Richards & Dunsmuir

BC Hydro's Vandalism at Richards & Dunsmuir

In my line of work, I come across a lot of road-works. Truthfully, they are the bane of my existence at work. The extensive road closures and worse, the delays in traffic that are associated with them cause so much aggravation to so many people.

Although road-works are road-works no matter where you are in this world, I have a few opinions regarding how Vancouver manages it’s public works and I am more than happy to share those in the future.

But today, I’d like to speak about the other organizations that dig into our city streets, do their thing, and then fill in the holes.

I’m speaking of the likes of BC Hydro, Terasen Gas, and Telus, and the Metro Vancouver Water District to name just four but I’m sure there are more, given all the other utility-like works that go on.

Why is it that when they finish their work, their road patch is of such poor quality? More to the point, why does the city allow them to do such a bad patch-job?

As I see it, taxpayers paid a lot of money to have the road built and maintained by the city. Too much, even. But then along comes some utility who digs it up, roots around in the hole they made, fills it in, pats a little asphalt down over the top and calls it a day. When they’re done, the finished road surface looks (and feels) like a pothole in reverse! There is not the slightest attempt to smooth the patch out. No matter the utility, the location, or the time of year!

Never mind that there are concrete curbs, concrete sidewalks, and concrete bus-stop pads and areas of brick and cobblestones. It seems that a bad paving-job is good enough for these utilities- as well as the city- which is responsible for the roads in the first place.

In the middle of a concrete curb, the replacement asphalt is ‘moulded’ to resemble the curb. In the middle of ornate brickwork, you’ll find a mounded slab of asphalt. And in the middle of the smoothest pavement in the middle of the street, you’ll find a whacking huge lump that passes for a ‘patch’.

When these guys are finished with our roads, their handy work is so shoddy, so haphazard, it’s plain that they don’t care about the road surface at all. The work is so bad, it’s sure to cause motorists to fear for the well-being of their cars’ suspension systems. Pedestrians must navigate serious tripping hazards. It’s so cheap. And it’s so unnecessary.

When the city digs into a street to fix a sewer pipe, once they’re done, they replace the street’s foundation, tamp it down, put down an underlay of asphalt, and then do a final paving so that the patch blends exactly in with the road surface around it. They pay similar attention to concrete and bricklaying. They may be slow but city’s Street Operations folk do excellent work.

I certain that if a lamp-post is destroyed in a car accident, ICBC pays for it’s replacement. So why is it any different when there’s pre-meditated vandalism on our road surfaces?

This is one way to improve the condition of our streets over time that won’t cost the taxpayer a single dime. Whoever digs the street up, can do what’s necessary to repair the damage; to put it back to the condition it was in before they started their digging.

Our streets have value. It’s time for them to be protected. It’s time for Vancouver to establish and enforce standards on these digger-happy agencies. How the city itself repairs its streets, should be the standard.

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Hedy’s at it… again

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Hedy4OntarioIt’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. Today’s going to be different because something caught my eye on my way past the mail box I thought I’d share with you.

Hedy Fry, our Dragon-slayer MP here in Vancouver-Centre (BC), has just mailed out her semi-annual horn-tooting blurb. No surprise there, all MPs can and do. It’s just that hers is, well, unique. Individual. (Read….”Unaligned”).

This newsletter from our Paul Martin lovin’, Liberal-flag wavin’, Queen of Denman Street MP, is completely devoid of anything “Liberal”. Clearly, she must see the party itself as a liability (as would I) given the machinations that are going on right now at Stornaway.

And then, while visiting her website for more ‘updates’, I came across this little gem: a little YouTube video, that was produced on Parliament Hill showing the Honourable member to be from… Ontario! The team support is apalling. Who produced this joke?

It’s 30 seconds long and with all the media brain-power at their disposal on Parliament Hill how could they possibly screw up like this?! Couldn’t someone have said, “Wait, Hedy, you need to do this again…. you blew the opening!”

Every Hour on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh… Day of the Eleventh Month….

Every Hour on the Eleventh Hour….. Oops… Take Two! What happened to the days when she had a proud British Columbian Liberal-Flag wavin’ machine? Or is there something about the competence of the Liberals to effect real opposition? Where is the depth of the party to ensure it can sell lemonade on election day never mind a government? Is this one time we should follow Hedy and step back from the edge of a very deep, collapsing Liberal hole?

 

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