Friday, August 15, 2014

Justin Trudeau should avoid the "help" of Marc and Jodie Emery to get Liberal Party elected on marijuana legalization

Jodie and Marc Emery
Support from the fickle Prince and Princess of pot could burn the federal Liberal brand, send Trudeau dreams up in smoke

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday August 12, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

"With marijuana being such a big issue, I think I could be a really good spokesperson to defend Justin Trudeau from all the attacks."
- Jodie Emery, marijuana activist and potential federal Liberal candidate
The self-proclaimed "Prince and Princess of Pot" -- marijuana legalization activists Marc and Jodie Emery -- plan to help federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, but that may instead make his chances of becoming prime minister go up in smoke.
Marc Emery is scheduled to get out of a Louisiana jail and return to Canada today after a stiff five-year sentence for dealing marijuana seeds into America by mail.
Meanwhile, Jodie Emery anxiously awaits word from a Liberal Party of Canada, ahem, "green light" committee on whether she can run for Trudeau's team in the Vancouver East riding against veteran New Democrat MP Libby Davies, herself a champion of decriminalization for years.
The Emerys also announced they will exact "political revenge" on Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper by touring across Canada, urging voters to support Trudeau in the 2015 election because he promises to legalize marijuana.
But Trudeau should immediately distance him from the Emerys and their "joint" campaign. Why? Because they're one-trick ponies on the single issue of marijuana, and regularly change political stables to further their cause without any loyalty whatsoever to either the party or its leader.
They've backed the Marijuana Party, the NDP and the Greens, but now it's the Liberals.
Libs were burned before
Helpful? Last year Justin Trudeau said Marc Emery was "flat out lying" about claims he had smoked marijuana with Justin four or five times on several different occasions.
"I've never done it except with people I know and trust. And Marc Emery was someone I met but certainly not someone I ever thought of smoking with," Trudeau said in Aug. 2013. "I only met Marc Emery once in my life, so that's a lot of smoking with him that I apparently did."
Emery publicly apologized last year, but still claims he smoked up with Trudeau on one occasion. Trudeau continues to deny it.
In 2008, Emery reportedly claimed he struck a deal with the late New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton to bring Marijuana Party members and pro-pot supporters to the NDP and offer up candidates to help with an NDP promise to decriminalize the drug.
But the NDP wasn't inhaling, saying Emery's statements were "pure fantasy."
Then-Layton spokesman Brad Lavigne said: "The New Democratic Party has made no such deal with any other party or with any individual... This is nonsense, absolute nonsense."
Layton himself later denied the allegations. "There never was any kind of a deal. There was no commitment, no relationship," he said, while noting the party had favoured decriminalization for years and was asked about it in the 2004 and 2006 elections.
Emery's comments about Trudeau were nasty, since he denounced the MP for voting for Bill C-15, which would have imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences, including marijuana.
Emery said in a 2009 video because Trudeau "smoked with me four or five times" that "it really pisses me off when I see Justin Trudeau, who took big gaggers with me, is in Parliament actually voting for Bill C-15. What a fucking hypocrite."
All of which makes one question Jodie Emery's candidacy, given Trudeau thinks her husband lied about him in a way that hurt Liberals.
Inconsistent, except on cannabis
What's more, Jodie is anything but consistent politically, other than campaigning for cannabis.
She twice ran for the Green Party provincially. In 2013 in Vancouver-West End, she placed third behind winner New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert and BC Liberal Scott Harrison.
In 2009, she came in third in Vancouver-Fraserview, losing to BC Liberal Kash Heed in a contest where Elections BC later fined Heed's campaign $8,000 for overspending but did not order a byelection. Emery's 904 votes were greater than the margin New Democrat candidate Gabriel Yiu lost by to Heed.
She also ran twice for the B.C. Marijuana Party in 2005 and a 2008 byelection.
While Marc Emery was indeed shafted when the federal Conservative government extradited him to a tough prison sentence in the U.S. rather than charge him in Canada, Emery knew all along he was poking a stick at a tiger and aiming for marijuana martyrdom.
Canadians would be outraged if the U.S. refused to extradite an American illegally mailing drugs or guns into our country. Emery, however, sees himself as a faultless hero.
"This is an epic struggle between good and evil. You couldn't pick a more virtuous person to go up against evil," Emery said of himself before being extradited.
Despite supporting the NDP, Greens and now Liberals at various points, Emery identifies most closely as a right-wing libertarian, not a social democrat.
"My mentor is Ayn Rand," he told The Georgia Straight in 2007, talking about the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
The Emerys can make one claim that won't be disputed. Their efforts and those of thousands of others have begun a process of marijuana legalization in the United States, starting in Washington and Colorado States, and likely Canada in the future.

But their self-promotional and dubious approach isn't one any party should accept.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Like Captain Ahab Pursuing Moby-Dick, Christy Clark's Harpooning of BC Schools Continues With Crazy Plan to Pay Parents

Fantastic adaptation of Moby-Dick movie poster sent by a reader! 
In senselessly spending strike savings, it's clear Clark is channeling Captain Ahab.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday August 5, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee." –
- Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, 1851
For Premier Christy Clark, the BC Teachers' Federation has become Moby-Dick, the object of hatred to be pursued to the ends of the earth.
Clark has become Captain Ahab, driven mad in her desire to destroy the union version of the white whale.
That became apparent last week when the BC Liberal government announced what is a truly crazy plan -- to pay parents of students $40 a day if the union strike continues into September.
Crazy, because it makes no sense.
Clark's scheme would instantly dispose of the estimated $12 million in daily savings from the strike without putting a penny into improving public education.
What's worse, while the government claimed the money is for "child care" for students under 13 years old, there is no requirement that parents spend it on child care -- nor is there child care available to be had, and certainly not for $40 a day.
The move infuriated the union, which it was highly calculated to do.
BCTF president Jim Iker dismissed the government move as "a blatant and divisive attempt to prolong disruption in B.C. schools."
It shows the premier's unhealthy obsession with harpooning teachers instead of solving the serious underfunding problems in our schools.
Where is Starbuck?
In this whale tale, there is no BC Liberal Starbuck -- Captain Ahab's first mate who cautioned against chasing Moby-Dick.
If there was, perhaps Clark would realize the folly of her mission.
Remove the union from the equation, and consider whether the government would compensate oil companies if First Nations took legal action that delayed pipeline construction or drilling plans. Not a chance.
Would Clark pay $12 million a day to patients to receive treatment in the United States if B.C. doctors legally withdrew their services in a fee dispute? No way.
The BCTF is taking legal strike action, as is its right, but the BC Liberals are giving away allocated education dollars.
The reason this borders on insane is because the B.C. government is appealing a B.C. Supreme Court decision that ruled it must restore class size and composition limits negotiated by the union.
If the government loses again, it will be forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on more teachers and resources in our schools.
Where will it get that money if all strike savings are spent? You guessed it -- from taxpayers.
If the teachers are on picket lines for two weeks in September, forcing the government to raise wages and benefits more than it wants, the strike savings money that could have paid for it will have already disappeared.
An ill-fated voyage
Captain Ahab asked a passing ship as he began his demented pursuit: "Hast thou seen the white whale?"
Yes, indeed we have -- and a battle with it will not end well.
The solution is obvious: negotiate a fair agreement with teachers this month and put the dispute behind you.

But so long as Christy Clark channels Captain Ahab, this ill-fated voyage continues.

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Friday, August 01, 2014

Best wishes to Bill Good - retiring from The Bill Good Show today! Thanks for a great program over many years!

Bill Good and Bill Tieleman in studio last week.
Congratulations to Bill Good, who is today broadcasting his last show on CKNW AM 980 after a long and distinguished career on radio and also on television.

I have had the pleasure of being a guest on The Bill Good Show for over 20 years, including 5 years as a regular political commentator each week on the Monday Morning Quarterbacks panel on federal politics and more with Norman Spector.

Bill Good is exceedingly fair, willing to listen to both sides and - importantly to me - always open to hearing from unions - members and leaders.  

Best wishes to Bill, his wife Georgie and his family as he starts a new chapter of his life and doesn't have to get up early every weekday morning!

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Why Set Minimum Prices on Booze At All? BC's "Unhappy Hour" with higher - not lower - drink prices, raises question why there should be any minimum charge

Big beer, bigger prices!
Minimum prices on beer, wine and spirits don't fix the abuse problems they're meant to solve, and simply gouge the rest of us.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday July 28, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

"What is the point of requiring non-problem drinkers to forego their pleasure or pay more, for no good in return? And what is the good of taxing problem drinkers more, if it does not address the harm?"
As the BC Liberal government scrambles to make its ridiculous "unhappy hour" slightly less objectionable, the big question remains unanswered: why have a minimum price on alcohol at all?
The answer annoys both the government, which loves telling people what to do, as well as the academics and doctors it listens to. But the reality is that the minimum prices introduced in British Columbia last month for beer, wine and spirits don't fix the problems they're intended to solve.
They only mean that happy hour, when drinks are supposed to be cheaper, get more expensive.
John Yap, parliamentary secretary for liquor policy reform, said introducing minimum booze prices is "modernizing" liquor laws while addressing "public safety and health" concerns -- that is, to curb alcohol abuse.
Yet on Friday, Yap lowered the minimum price on pitchers of beer, but not pints, from the 25 cents an ounce announced last month to 20 cents an ounce.
Campaign for Real Ale Society spokesperson Paddy Treavor said in an interview Sunday that the change doesn't make sense: "They've lowered the price on the biggest serving size. I don't see how that promotes health and safety. And we still have the highest priced beer in Canada."
The minimum pricing also means that independent bars and restaurants with beer priced lower than the big chains were suddenly forced to jack prices, removing competitive advantages.
What seemed like a dumb BC Liberal move soon looked pretty devious. Some of their biggest financial supporters are those chains.
Good intentions can backfire
Regardless, there is evidence that imposing minimum booze prices and raising the cost doesn't always work to limit alcohol abuse.
Raul Caetano, professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health, said good intentions can backfire.
"There may be situations where the intent of the taxation is reversed, in that alcohol consumption increases rather than decreases because the alcohol of choice has become cheaper. Basically, they buy more and end up drinking more," Caetano said about a 2006 study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
"In general, the evidence suggests that as you increase taxes, and alcoholic beverages become more expensive, individuals tend to use alcohol less," Caetano said.
"However, the findings in this paper indicate that the reality is not so simple, because there are alcoholic beverages at different levels of price, and when you implement taxation, what happens is that the individuals who are able to purchase the alcoholic beverages that were more expensive just switch to less expensive ones."
Nonetheless, Dr. Lawrence Loh of the Fraser Health Authority disagrees, arguing that a 2013 study found alcohol-related injuries would drop by nine per cent for every 10 per cent price increase.
That 2013 report for the Institute of Alcohol Studies was co-authored by University of Victoria psychologist Tim Stockwell and was used in the failed attempt to support introduction of minimum prices in the United Kingdom, which was rejected last year.
"Data from Canadian provinces suggest that a 10 per cent increase in average minimum prices would result in the region of an eight per cent reduction in consumption, a nine per cent reduction in hospital admissions and a 32 per cent reduction in wholly alcohol-caused deaths -- with further benefits accruing two years later," wrote Stockwell and co-author Gerald Thomas, also of UVic.
Nevertheless, the U.K.'s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, which had promised a "minimum unit price" for alcohol in 2012, was ultimately unconvinced.
Easier to price than address abuse
While minimum pricing is controversial, it's still an easier if ineffective fix for governments than looking at some of the root causes of alcohol abuse.
Professor Caetano said another 2010 study identified several sociodemographic predictors for drinking to intoxication.
Heavy drinkers, or those who got drunk more than once a month, tended to be found more among males under 60 years of age who did not have a college degree. Those who were unemployed or unmarried also had higher risk factors.
Caetano said that while more Caucasians, Hispanics and African-Americans reported drinking between 1992 and 2002, meaning drinking in general has increased, only Caucasian women consumed more drinks per person than the previous average.
Clearly none of these factors can be easily remedied. Nor will higher booze prices change your age, education, employment or relationship status, gender or other risk factors -- just the price.
Minimum alcohol prices are regressive, like other taxes that disproportionately and negatively impact lower-income people more.
In other words, those drinking expensive Champagne are not as affected by $2 more a glass as the working poor, students and others.
The reality is that problem drinkers won't change their destructive behaviour simply because of higher prices. The rest of us will just pay more -- unhappily.

If you believe Happy Hour should mean lower, not higher, drink prices, join my new Fix BC Happy Hour page on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BC Liberals Give Secret Payouts to Senior Staff Under the Table, But No One Pays for Breaking the Rules

A "troubled and disappointed" BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong
Don't expect much more than a 'tut tut' for these taxpayer abuses.
Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column
Tuesday July 22, 2014
By Bill Tieleman
"Honesty pays, but it don't seem to pay enough to suit some people."
- Kin Hubbard, American humorist, 1868-1930
When the rules on how much senior government-funded staff can make are broken once, it's regrettable; when it happens time after time, it's a clear pattern of intentional deception.
That's occurred repeatedly as already highly-paid B.C. bureaucrats are found to be getting extra payments that are banned by government policies, but those doing the hiring deliberately violated them.
And it's not just payments for new hires -- you can flagrantly break conflict of interest rules on the way out of your cushy government job worth $465,000 a year and still get a $114,000 severance package.
Senior heads should roll for these outrageous abuses of taxpayer dollars, but BC Liberal Finance Minister Mike de Jong just says "tut-tut" and does little more than ask for some money to be returned or request a partial roll back of the pay for those caught out.
Stinky supplements
The latest in a long string of stinky salary supplements was last week, when we learned the chief executive officer of the BC Cancer Agency was hired in 2012 for $500,000 a year when the maximum allowed was $400,000.
The minister wants that salary rolled back $50,000, so it would then only be $50,000 over the limit. That's how de Jong gets tough.
Then it was the Royal B.C. Museum's turn, where its CEO also wrongly got a "secondary contract" worth over $50,000, including three business class flights to London, England a year.
But wait, there's more. Michael Graydon, the ex-head of the BC Lotteries Corporation, got a severance package even though he quit to take a job with Paragon Gaming, a private company doing major business with BCLC.
BCLC asked Graydon to pay back $55,000, but if he doesn't, well, nothing will likely happen.
'Troubling,' indeed
Before that, New Democrat MLA David Eby triggered a government investigation into the secret $50,000 payment to Kwantlen Polytechnic University president Alan Davis to take his current job.
Who was vice-chair of Kwantlen's board of directors that put through the undisclosed "pre-employment contracts"? Amrik Virk, now minister of advanced education and responsible for making sure such things don't happen!
Virk first denied anything was wrong and accused Eby of "fishing," but a government report confirmed it all -- yet he still has the cabinet job. And then-Kwantlen board chair Gord Schoberg, who was also involved in the contract, was not terminated.
"Troubling" and "disappointing" is what de Jong calls these cases.
But what's "troubling" and "disappointing" is that Premier Christy Clark has not fired either Virk for misconduct or de Jong for incompetence.
In fact, Clark said of Virk: "I have spoken to him and have absolute confidence in him and his ability to serve as minister of advanced education."
After all, who better to enforce the rules than someone caught breaking them?
Paying for incompetence
Ironically, the B.C. government wouldn't be in its current mess with Michael Graydon if it had taken my advice back in 2010 and fired him with cause and without severance after the BC Lottery Corporation was fined $670,000 for more than 1,000 violations of the federal Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act.
The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada fined the BC Lottery Corporation because it misfiled 1,020 reports for casino transactions over $10,000.
Graydon reportedly said that the reports were filed late because of technical glitches and human error. But the mismanagement still stands.

But hey, why worry about any of this? Taxpayers will pick up the BC Liberal tab for incompetence once again.

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