Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vancouver Canucks game rioters "stupid and contagious" but rot starts at the top - why expect better behaviour?

Vancouver police face rioting crowd June 15 - thanks to Cassandra for exclusive photo - click on photo for full sized detailed look

Vancouver Rioters and the Hollow People Higher Up

Why be surprised at the Vancouver crowd's bad behaviour when the rot starts at the top?

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday June 28, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"Here we are now, entertain us / I feel stupid and contagious"

- Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana

The Vancouver Canucks riot was not an aberration nor was it conducted by "anarchists" as Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu wrongly claimed.

The rioters were instead pathetically hollow people with no moral compass.

Most had jobs, good parents and an education. One even held a prestigious membership on a national sports team.

None of that mattered.

They wanted entertainment and what better than a riot with burning police cars and the lasting memories that come from having your pictures taken in front of jumping flames?

But why expect better behaviour from young people when the rot in our society starts at the top?

Take Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini repeatedly telling media -- including one woman reporter - to F*** off for doing their job of asking questions after his team lost game seven.

Apparently making millions from a sports franchise does nothing to improve basic manners and instil professionalism.

By June 17, the foul-mouthed Aquilini was telling Global TV that "Real fans don't riot."

Are you kidding? Of course they do!

Who but a real Vancouver Canuck fan would buy an overpriced team jersey valued from $80 to $320 to wear on a riot and looting spree?

Watch the videos, Francesco, and in each incident you'll see about $15,000 worth of your Canuck merchandise-wearing fans rolling and burning cars or smashing downtown storefront windows.

Yes, "we are all Canucks" -- even the crazed rioters.

Corruption and disrespect

And why would we expect exemplary behaviour from young fans when everywhere they turn they see corruption and disrespect at the highest levels for the values we want them to respect?

After the riot we learned that four senior RCMP officers face multiple serious corruption charges in the infamous 2007 Surrey Six massacre that saw two bystanders and four gang members murdered.

The allegations include one officer impregnating a potential witness, the girlfriend of a man who pled guilty to murder in the case.

Last month four other RCMP officers were charged with perjury over their testimony in the tragic 2007 Robert Dziekanski tasering death incident at Vancouver Airport.

The allegation is that they lied under oath to protect themselves from prosecution.

While these officers deserve the presumption of innocence before trial, the impact is deeply disturbing.

Nationally, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government was voted in contempt of Parliament by the opposition for the first time in history -- and nonetheless rewarded with a majority government in the following election.

In this province, two former B.C. Liberal ministerial aides who pled guilty to breach of trust for disclosing confidential government information to a bidder in the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail had their $6 million legal fees covered by the B.C. government, ending their trial after just two witnesses testified.

And B.C. Premier Christy Clark said during her leadership campaign that she wouldn't cut the Harmonized Sales Tax rate because it would be like trying to buy people's votes -- then she did exactly that once in office.

Government and big business Smart Tax Alliance television and print ads falsely proclaim that the HST is 10 per cent when in fact it is 12 per cent and can't possibly be 10 per cent until 2014 -- if the B.C. Liberal government is both re-elected and keeps its words.

And they say "Vote no for lower taxes" when a no vote will keep the HST in place -- a tax not previously paid on hundreds of goods and services.

Yet they run the ads without a hint of embarrassment.

Those who give a damn

The gap between the good behaviour we expect and the results we see from our role models is tragic.

Fortunately many, many other Vancouver residents do give a damn about something and about their city.

Some tried to stop the rioting and destruction while others made the effort to help clean up, express their disgust for the riot and attempt to restore our city's tattered reputation.

Not all Vancouverites are "stupid and contagious" -- literally thank goodness.


BC gets final HST payment from federal Conservative government - appointment of ex-Premier Gordon Campbell to High Commissioner to UK job!

New High Commissioner to United Kingdom Gordon Campbell
The federal Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made the final payment to British Columbia for agreeing to impose the Harmonized Sales Tax.

No, not the one-time-only $1.6 billion payment to the BC government - the other pay off.

Last week former BC Premier Gordon Campbell was appointed High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, a job that will pay about $190,000 a year, plus an official residence, chef and chauffeur in London.

While many commentators have focused on Campbell's background, relationship with Harper and other factors, none seem to have drawn the obvious conclusion - if the High Commissioner job is a reward - as it has been in the past for prime ministers both Conservative and Liberal - why Campbell?

After all, he doesn't even belong to either federal politicial party and certainly was responsible for the balancing act of keeping both federal Liberals and Conservatives in a provincial coalition misnamed the BC Liberal Party.

That hardly is helpful to the electoral success of the federal Conservatives.

So, if he isn't a party ally, political ally, major donor or diplomatic veteran, why give Campbell one of the best jobs in all diplomacy?

Because he delivered the HST in British Columbia, even if it cost him his job.

The HST is a federal priority and for good reason - Ottawa increases its take of provincial sales taxes through the HST by about $300 million a year.

Campbell's kind of blind loyalty deserves favour - and High Commissioner to the UK is that kind of reward.

No doubt many will disagree with this cynical view.

And I think Campbell will do a decent job, given his long record in public office.

I even wish him well - after all, if I lose my passport in England I'll be depending on him!

But really - let's not ignore an obvious conclusion. 

Only in BC you say?  Pity.


Friday, June 24, 2011

HST Referendum Vote Is About Democracy, Not Just Money

Fight HST organizer Gabriel Yiu,left, and local residents show off community support for YES to extinguish the HST in Vancouver-Fraserview riding - after over 100 signs mysteriously stolen overnight earlier in June!
Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday June 21, 2011

Voting on the HST not just on tax policy, but also about defending democracy

By Bill Tieleman
"Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."

- James Bovard, author

The Harmonized Sales Tax referendum isn't just about tax policy -- it's about democracy itself.

Voting "Yes" to extinguish the HST sends a powerful message to this and every future B.C. government -- do not mislead voters by bringing in a major policy that you denied you would before an election.

We've seen it before -- from this same BC Liberal government that said it wouldn't privatize BC Rail before the 2001 election and sold it off in 2003.

We saw it in Nova Scotia, where the New Democrat government said before the 2009 election it wouldn't raise taxes -- would even cut some -- but afterwards increased their HST to 15 per cent from 13 per cent.

There are always reasons why many governments insist they just had to break their word -- and usually have a few years to get away with it before the next election.

Not this time.

Historic opportunity

The grassroots rebellion led by Fight HST, which I helped create with former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm, forced this month's binding referendum vote when the 2010 citizens initiative petition obtained more than 557,000 valid voter signatures.

That means that for the first time in Canadian history -- even Commonwealth history -- voters have the chance to democratically overturn a government policy that was imposed against their will.

That in itself is reason enough to vote "Yes" to extinguish the HST -- to punish a government that didn't respect its own citizens -- and teach all parties a lesson about political honesty.

Democracy is earned

Former premier Gordon Campbell could have listened when the petition was successful and cancelled the HST -- but wouldn't.

The BC Liberal government could have paid attention to polls showing over 80 per cent opposition to the HST -- but didn't.

New Premier Christy Clark could have been different -- but instead her government is running a $5 million advertising campaign claiming the HST is good for us -- while Clark actually claims she is "neutral."

And the BC Liberal Party's big business allies, the so-called Smart Tax Alliance, are running an even more expensive HST ad and automated telephone campaign.

They think democracy can be bought. Don't believe it.

Democracy can only be earned. And it isn't for sale.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bill Tieleman in Chicago

Hi friends - I will be in Chicago from Thursday through Tuesday - your comments always welcome but posting may be delayed - cheers!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The HST vote is about your money - that's why government and big business misinformation so outrageous

BC Liberal government's "Stickmen" ads - $5 million of your taxpayer dollars at work to convince you the HST is good for you - even though they promised not to do it!
Remember - the HST is 12% - not 10% as BC government and Smart Tax Alliance TV ads wrongly claim
Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday June 14, 2011       

By Bill Tieleman

"This particular tax takes the tax off business, it takes $1.8 billion off businesses and puts it on consumers, and so that shift is a shift that is ideological as well as factual."

- Former BC Liberal finance minister Carole Taylor on the HST

This month's binding referendum vote on the Harmonized Sales Tax is about your money.

HST misinformation is being promoted with $5 million in B.C. government advertising and another big business campaign from the so-called Smart Tax Alliance with an undisclosed but likely even bigger budget.

Remember -- the HST is a 12 per cent tax on goods and services, not the 10 per cent their ads claim.

That means you are spending up to $1,200 a year in HST that you didn't spend when the Provincial Sales Tax and federal Goods and Services Tax were in effect.

Why? Because you weren't charged the seven per cent PST on hundreds of services and products -- like restaurant food, basic phone and cable TV, home repairs and renovations, domestic airline tickets, haircuts, vitamins, gym memberships, sports and concert events and much more -- a huge list.

Businesses which greatly benefit from the $2 billion tax shift onto consumers want you to believe the HST will eventually be 10 per cent -- but only if you vote NO to keep it.

Rubbish. The BC Liberal government is "promising" to reduce the HST to 10 per cent by 2014.

String of broken pledges

That's the government which promised before the 2009 election it wouldn't impose an HST; promised the HST would be "revenue neutral"; promised all the money would go to healthcare; promised a 15 per cent income tax cut to make up for the HST, promised 141,000 new jobs in 10 years and promised it wouldn't try to buy your vote with your money.

Every single one of those promises has been broken.

Now Premier Christy Clark "promises" an 11 per cent HST next year and a 10 per cent HST in three years -- but only after you vote. Is that believable?

And even if it was, would you really be better off still paying an extra five per cent tax on all the items above?

Right now the seven per cent HST will cost you an extra $140 on a $2,000 domestic flight and an extra $3,500 on a $50,000 home renovation or repair.

Would an extra five per cent tax on these costs be better than zero per cent?

Obviously not.

Yes means No

Giving people a vote to demand government listen is why I helped start Fight HST, which led the citizens initiative petition that forced a binding mail ballot referendum going into the mail this week and next, with a deadline to return it of July 22.

And remember that you have to vote Yes to extinguish the HST and vote No to keep the HST -- that's the way the referendum ballot has been worded by Elections BC.

Don't take advice from government "stick men" ads and big business, which have everything to gain from your loss -- do the math for yourself and your family.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Prime Minister Stephen Harper No Help to Chinese Voices of Democracy, Human Rights and Freedom in Jail

Imprisoned artist & architect Ai Weiwei

Canada to double trade with China, whose government imprisons artist Ai Weiwei and Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday June 7, 2011

By Bill Tieleman 

"I believe that no matter what happens, nothing can prevent the historical process by which society demands freedom and democracy."

- Ai Weiwei, imprisoned Chinese artist and architect

UPDATE JUNE 24 - Good news - Ai Weiwei has been freed from prison!  But he is also under a severe gag order from Chinese authorities not to talk about his detention. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/06/23/ai-weiwei-gag-order.html

China's best-known artist and architect -- Ai Weiwei -- has been jailed since April 3 for speaking out against that country's dictatorship.

The first Chinese national to win the Nobel Peace Prize -- Liu Xiaobo -- is also in jail, serving an 11-year sentence for "inciting subversion of state power."

On June 4 in Hong Kong, an estimated 150,000 people rallied to demand human rights in China and mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of protestors by the army.

Meanwhile Canada plans to double our $30 billion a year trade with this viciously authoritarian government by 2015.

That means these two extraordinarily brave men are good for democracy but bad for business, especially for corporations with huge financial investments in China.

What landed Ai in prison

Ai predicted his eventual jailing in May 2009.

He knew that criticizing the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- despite being consulting architect to the fabulous Bird's Nest stadium -- and compiling online lists of the names of children killed in the May 2008 Szechuan earthquake when their poorly built schools collapsed -- would doom his freedom.

Before his popular blog was erased from the Internet and his Twitter account with 70,000 followers was silenced, Ai wrote: "Reject cynicism, reject cooperation, reject fear... There is nothing to discuss... I won't cooperate. If you must, come bring your instruments of torture with you."

Now Ai languishes in jail, accused of "tax evasion" but clearly being punished for statements like this, written just before the Olympics began: "A society lacking in democracy is incapable of orchestrating true joy for its people."

Many artists have rallied to Ai's cause and those of other pro-democracy activists -- but the art world establishment has been almost as silent as the controlled Chinese media.

That's because China controls access to its vast artistic collections and the funding to permit exhibits to travel to western nations.

VAG curator stands up for Ai

The Vancouver Art Gallery's chief curator Daina Augaitis deserves praise for immediately calling for Ai's release from jail.

"It's terrible. We need to speak out about it. We need to demand his release -- as the French and German governments have already done," said Augaitis, who had previously visited Ai in his studio along with VAG director Kathleen Bartels in 2010.

Unfortunately, of all major American galleries, only San Diego's Museum of Contemporary Art has officially protested Ai's detention.

But several continue with plans to showcase art exhibits organized in conjunction with the Chinese government, including the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Liu Xiaobo's activism

The case of Liu Xiaobo is equally, if not more disturbing.

Liu joined student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and has been a pro-democracy activist ever since, despite losing his job as a teacher and being repeatedly jailed.

Liu's commitment to achieving democracy and protection of human rights through non-violent protest earned him the Nobel Prize last October.

To his credit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly congratulated Liu on his Nobel win -- but regrettably Harper has yet to protest Ai's jailing.

U.S. President Barack Obama called for Liu's release in a powerful statement describing him as "eloquent and courageous."

But China's response was classic -- there was no mention of international condemnation of Liu's imprisonment in official media.

But China did describe Liu as a "criminal" and his being awarded the Nobel Prize "an obscenity."

Here in Canada, a Parliamentary page can stage a silent protest against Harper's government on the floor of the Senate without fear of jailing, torture or death.

Voters in British Columbia will democratically decide in a binding referendum if the Harmonized Sales Tax should be repealed, overriding an arbitrary government decision.

The contrast couldn't be sharper.

So at a time when Canadian and other countries rightly rally support for pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Libya, isn't it also appropriate to demand freedom for Liu and Ai and more support for democracy in China?

Or is it just business as usual?

A disturbing footnote: The last time I raised the issue of democracy in China in 2008 I received email death threats that were investigated by Vancouver Police. They originated in China, which refuses to cooperate with investigations by foreign police.


Bill Tieleman & Bill Vander Zalm & Chris Delaney - Fight HST - take on Smart Tax Alliance - Vancouver tonight - Wosk Centre 7:30 p.m.

Bill Tieleman, Bill Vander Zalm, Chris Delaney at Fight HST news conference
I will be joining Bill Vander Zalm and Chris Delaney tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Wosk Centre at Simon Fraser University's downtown Vancouver campus as Fight HST debates the Smart Tax Alliance on the Harmonized Sales Tax.

Bill Vander Zalm and I will also be debating in Victoria at Camosun College's Lansdowne Campus on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. [yes, I know, Canucks game on that night - can't change schedule]

Camosun College, Lansdowne Campus
1950 Lansdowne Road, Victoria
Gibson Auditorium, Room 216, Young Building

And we will be in Nanaimo on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Vancouver Island University
900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo
Malaspina Theatre, Building 310, Main Theatre, Room 218

Click on the links above to get maps and more details.

Please come down and support Fight HST if you can!


CN Rail - buyer of BC Rail - main sponsor for Christy Clark speech to Vancouver Board of Trade!

Premier Christy Clark - questions on BC Rail?
Don't expect a lot of questions to be asked about the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003 - or about the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid case - when Premier Christy Clark speaks at the Vancouver Board of Trade on June 16.

That's because the events "Presenting Sponsor" is none other than CN Rail - which bought BC Rail!

The event is a hokey "conversation" between Clark and 60 Minutes TV show co-editor Lesley Stahl.

And in an unintentionally hilarious error by the Board of Trade, ads for the event say: "Join us for this signature even kicking off a new era of member engagement...."

Of course, ex-Premier Gordon Campbell launched his "New Era" of "Hope and Prosperity" after winning the 2001 provincial election.

Clark - who literally refuses to speak Campbell's name in all public statements, referring to him only as "my predecessor" - won't likely use the "new era" term.

What will be interesting is if this "conversation" will be compared to Katie Couric's devastating TV interview with Sarah Palin that showed the Vice-Presidential candidate to be less than up to speed on major issues.

Premier Photo-Op is in serious need of showing some comprehensive grasp of public policy rather than lighting the Olympic Cauldron and wearing a Canucks jersey.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

BC Liberals or Smart Tax Alliance enlist robot calling to conduct pro-HST voter identification

Have you been "robo called" yet about the HST?

If not, you will be - by the firm Prime Contact - who are working either for the BC Liberal Party or the so-called "Smart Tax Alliance" - the big business group spending millions to promote the Harmonized Sales Tax.

I was called at home on Tuesday May 31 at 8:15 p.m. from telephone number 604-283-1504 and I've since talked to half a dozen other people who got the identical robo call.

What is a "robo call"?  It's a fully automated call that records your responses entered on your telephone keypad and then reports back to the robot's masters.

This call from the Hamilton Ontario-based firm was very simple.

First question:  "Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST?"  Yes or No?

Second question:  "What age range are you?"  Under 18, 18 to 34, 35 to 54 or 55 and older?

Third question: "Are you male or female?"

And that's all folks.

Prime Contact has worked for right-wing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and several federal Liberal Party candidates and - probably - the BC Liberal Party in the 2009 provincial election.  The firm's website says it worked in that election.

They also do automated polling as well as holding "telephone town halls" - something the BC Liberal government has been doing continually on the HST - with your tax dollars of course.

Prime Contact claims that: "We define ourselves by winning elections, especially the close ones and those that people say are impossible to win! We are passionate when it comes to grassroots campaigning and we want to help you win."
Here's how they describe their service:

"Automated Voter Identification Surveys
When faced with contacting thousands of voters without the budget for Live Agent Voter ID, use our AutoID system to get the job done.

As Election Day approaches, it's important to know who your voters are and what is important to them. With our new technology, even small campaigns can afford voter ID. This can make the difference on Election Day.

Our automated ID technology is accurate, cost effective, and will generate valuable voter data for your direct mail and Get-Out-The-Vote efforts. With PrimeContact, you can acquire the key information you need to win.

We'll save you time. With volunteers, identifying support can take a long time. Not only do you have to recruit the volunteers, but you are unlikely to be able to use every available phone all day. However, with Automated Voter ID we can get started immediately and generate tens of thousands of phone calls every day."

Will robots save the HST?  One thing is clear - they can't vote!