COVID-19: Canada In A Global Context [Updated]

As of this morning, the global number of COVID-19 infections has exceeded 620,000. With the virus just beginning to make inroads into heavily populated countries in Africa, Central and South America, and south-east Asia that number is expected to soar in the days to come.

The total number of cases in Canada currently sits at 4757, which puts us at #16 on the global list for infections. A major wild card for Canada is the border we share with the United States, which has surpassed China and Italy in recent days to become the world leader in infections. With tens of thousands of Canadians having recently rushed home from winter getaways in Arizona, Florida and other “snowbird” locations, and the virus having a 14 day incubation period, our numbers will surely jump.

At present, Quebec has the most infections at 2021 2498 — which is over twice as many as Ontario which currently has 993.

Continue reading “COVID-19: Canada In A Global Context [Updated]”

COVID-19: U.S.A. Now Leads The World With Most Infections

It’s probably not the “America First” that Donald Trump had in mind when he was on the campaign trail in 2016 — or maybe it was, at this point, who really knows?

As had been forecast for weeks, the United States has now surpassed China and Italy as the global hotspot for COVID-19 infections. When comparing the performance of different countries in combating the pandemic, as was noted in an earlier blog post, different geographic and cultural factors do come into play.

Regardless of where a country falls on the spectrum between personal freedom and collective responsibility, though, there has to be a balance. And that’s where the U.S. fails grievously in comparison with the rest of the developed world. Instead of providing a decent social safety net with proper health, education and material supports for its citizens, it’s this weird hybrid of a First World/Third World country.

And with COVID-19 in full-swing there, the nation’s inadequacies are on full (and shameful) display.

Continue reading “COVID-19: U.S.A. Now Leads The World With Most Infections”

COVID-19: Changes To Government Response Plans [Updated}

A few days ago we did a post about different actions governments have taken to grapple with the challenge of coping with the chaos caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some of those measures, such as the GST and Canada Child Benefit top-ups,  the Indigenous Community Support Fund, income and property tax deferrals at the federal and municipal level, and a 10 per cent wage subsidy for businesses to keep people on the payroll*, are still in place. But some other measures have been updated.

Federal Government

On March 25, the federal government, with all party support, passed a revised $107 billion emergency package to provide relief to Canadian workers and business owners whose lives have been disrupted by the outbreak.

Continue reading “COVID-19: Changes To Government Response Plans [Updated}”

COVID-19: Cold Calculation

In addition to the toll the virus has taken on peoples’ physical and mental health, it’s exacted a huge economic toll. Around the world, stock markets have cratered and business has ground to a halt: putting many millions of people (small business owners and workers alike) at risk.

To provide short-term relief for Canadians, the federal Liberal government has stepped up with a $82 billion package to support business owners, families and workers who have had their employment impacted by the slowdown.

South of the border, U.S. Congress agreed Tuesday night to a $2 trillion stimulus bill after several days of political wrangling. The Democrats were concerned the bill focused too much on corporate interests and didn’t do enough to help ordinary Americans and provide support for much needed healthcare services.

The bill gives a one-time payment of $1200 to every American earning less than $75,000, and $500 per child. There is also $367 billion in support for small businesses to help make payroll, and $130 billion for hospitals.

The primary area of contention between the Democrats and Republicans was a $500 billion subsidized loan package for big business. As originally proposed by the Republicans, the hotels and golf resorts owned by U.S. president Trump would have been eligible for assistance. But the Democrats won a concession that businesses controlled by members of Congress and top administration officials — including Trump and his family — would not be eligible.

Naked self-interest aside, politics are also in play with this stimulus package. With November’s election looming, Trump is desperate to kick-start the economy to boost his re-election bid.

How desperate?

Continue reading “COVID-19: Cold Calculation”

COVID-19: Global Snapshot

COVID-19 first appeared in China in December. Since then, it’s spread relentlessly around the world. On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the virus a global pandemic.

When looking at the success each country is having (or not having) in dealing with the outbreak different factors obviously come into play.

Remote island nations may be facing significant hardship in years to come from rising sea levels due to climate change, but with COVID-19 they’re better off than countries that share borders with multiple other countries — especially where population densities are high.

Countries with underdeveloped medical systems might not have the capacity to accurately gauge how many COVID-19 cases they have. And getting honest stats from countries with authoritarian regimes –cough, Russia, cough — is problematic too.

Continue reading “COVID-19: Global Snapshot”

COVID-19: Duelling Governments [Updated]

On Friday, both the Saskatchewan government and City of Regina declared states of emergency to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. Some of the municipal regulations mirrored those enacted by the province. But whereas the province’s regulations prohibited gatherings of over 25 people, Regina city council restricted gatherings to five people or less. The city regulations, which were to take effect today and last for a week, also included closure of non-essential retail outlets such as clothing, toy, furniture and shoe stores.

Saskatoon activated its Emergency Operations Centre, but did not pass any additional restrictions on businesses and public gatherings as Regina had done. But on Sunday, the Saskatchewan government announced that it would be rescinding Regina’s restrictions. The Saskatchewan Party government justified the move by saying it wanted to ensure regulations were consistent across the province.

Under Canada’s antiquated constitution, provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over cities via s.92 of the BNA Act. So the province certainly has the power to rescind Regina’s regulations. But whether it should or not is another matter.

Continue reading “COVID-19: Duelling Governments [Updated]”

City Council Warp Up: Parking Copromise (A Pun, Not A Typo, I Swear), Wastewater Wassup?, Skate Park Naming

October’s council meeting was a comparatively quick affair. The one big controversial item on the agenda attracted only two delegations — they disagreed with each other but were completely civil about it.

The nerve! How am I supposed to write dramatic histrionics about city hall if everybody is playing nice and trying to reach reasonable compromise?

Think of what you’re doing to journalism, people!

Anyway, if you’re interested in getting a blow by blow of all the action, my live tweeting is collected below.

But if you just want the key bullet points here they are:

  • Regina Police asked for an eight year extension on their employee parking lot zoning. Heritage Community Association said the surface parking was a bother and eight years more if is too much. Council knocked the eight year extension down to five.
  • Council still hopes to sell its wastewater to Western Potash Corp. But WPC’s mine is still in limbo. The two struck a deal that allows the city to sell wastewater to other interested parties while still giving WPC access down the road.
  • The city’s reserves are still looking good. Though, the General Fund Reserve is heading toward zero. Plans are in the works to fix that.
  • The city named the Rochdale Blvd skate park after late councillor Terry Hincks.

And that’s it for this month. If you want to follow the action live in November but don’t want to attend the meeting or watch it on TV, consider following my live-tweetery account @PDCityHall.

City Council Warp Up: One Small Step For Cab Drivers, One Giant Stumble Backward For Sanctuary Cities

On the last day of July in the Year of Our Glorb 2017, council debated the already-much-debated Taxi Bylaw. They also debated a motion to declare the City of Regina a City In Which One With Precarious Immigration Status Shalt Not Endure Fear Of Deportation When They Access City Services.

And, oh, how they debated. They debated until it was nigh unto August in the Year of Our Glorb 2017.

And were it not for Robert’s Rules Of Order, they may have been debating still.

But eventually the debating ceased and many taxi cab drivers departed Henry Baker Hall feeling generally okay with the outcome while many taxi cab company owners departed feeling fairly peeved. And as for those who came to council hoping the Access Without Fear motion would pass unhindered? Oh, they were most unhappy. Most unhappy, indeed.

So gather around and allow me recount in painful detail all the long hours of council’s July 31 meeting, measured out in digestible 140 letter chunks.

You can follow my council live-tweeting on the last Monday of every month (plus or minus a Monday or Tuesday) at @PDCityHall

DA: Meow

Daily AggregationGood morning! Happy summer! Here’s a few links.

1. AND THEN THERE WERE 12? There’s going to be a provincial byelection, but are the media and government counting the NDP’s Saskatoon-Fairview chickens before they hatch?

2. GOING SLOW Regina police made virtually no progress on workplace diversity fro  2015 to 2017.

3. THE SCENE FROM CANADA’S BIGGEST PRIDE EVENT No police floats and Black Lives Matter didn’t stop the parade.

4. RECENTLY IN TRUMPLAND The U.S. Supreme Court says it will hear arguments for President Trump’s Muslim travel ban in the fall, if necessary. In the meantime, the conservative-dominated court ruled parts of the ban can stand. Read the Washington Post story here. Also, the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court ruled that taxpayer-funded playgrounds can NOT be denied to religious schools. Time for the Church Of Satan to get into the education business!

AND NOW I NEED A PET CHEETAH Where is my pet cheetah? I demand a cheetah!

DA: The Man Who Planted Trees

Daily AggregationGood afternoon! It’s 13°C just before 2:00 on a chilly, rainy yet likable Wednesday afternoon. As we near solstice, we’ve got 16 hours and (almost) 25 minutes of daylight. Sunset tonight is 9:11, sunrise was the usual 4:46 a.m. Here’s some news.

CHILD SETS OTHER CHILDREN ON FIRE IN LARONGE Horrible.

THERE ARE SO MANY GUN NUTS IN AMERICA EVEN REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS GET SHOT SOMETIMES A gunman wounded four Republicans in Alexandria, Virginia at a bipartisan charity event. The shooter, predictably, is now dead. Given that the suspect was a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer, this appears to be a rare case of left leaning would-be killer. Assholes with guns are usually libertarian sociopaths or profoundly unwell young men. Well, now everyone’s deranged. Great. Oh and hey, I hear there’s also there’s a been a mass shooting in San Francisco.

CHANGING PRIDE POLITICS ARE ROOTED IN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY That’s what I took away from this excellent article, which talks about ongoing tensions in the LGBTQ* movement over issues like police participation in Pride parades. It focuses on Toronto but these conversations and debates are ongoing everywhere.

FLINT, MICHIGAN WATER CRISIS: HEALTH BOSS CHARGED WITH INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER Story here, and more here. Makes me wonder if someday we’ll see Canadian politicians and public servants charged for First Nations’ chronically shitty drinking water.

MEET YOUR NEW AMALGAMATED HEALTH BOARD Now let’s all Google these individuals and see if there’s any sketchy ideology going on. Also, having just one health board for the whole province is probably a terrible idea.

FROMAGE FIGHT Canada and the EU are arguing over cheese. As a cheese-eater with only moderate concern for Canadian producers whose research is limited to reading this story, I think Europeans have a point.

NAZI BLOGS FUCK OFF An Edmonton keyboard creep has been charged with willful promotion of hatred. Meanwhile,  Alberta’s education minister filed a police complaint over anti-LGTBTQ* flyers. Alberta’s conservative base sure has some winners, doesn’t it? By the way, Saskatchewan did fairly well on that hate crimes report that came out the other day. Sometimes this place is all right. Then again, considering I know someone who suffered a brain injury in a gay bashing, have met people who think “Hitler was right about a lot of things” and have seen a lot of crap on Facebook written by Saskies, it’s pretty clear there’s still a lot of hate and fear here.

HAPPY 30TH, BETTER LATE THAN NEVER Last month was the 30th anniversary of one of my favourite animated films, which incidentally was produced by Radio Canada (suck it, CBC haters). Frederic Back’s adaptation of Jean Giono’s novel L’homme qui plantait des arbres won the 1988 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. I’m shocked I couldn’t find an anniversary tribute online—arts journalism has really beaten beaten to hell in this country, hasn’t it? Regardless, The Man Who Planted Trees is gentle and lovely, and spring is a wonderful time to watch it — especially in this ominous era of unchecked climate change and rising fascism.

DA: Everybody Swoon For Wotherspoon

Daily AggregationJust a quick one today, let’s go go go

1. EX-INTERIM The NDP’s Trent Wotherspoon has stepped down to contemplate a run for the party’s leadership. Wotherspoon, a teacher in his civilian days, would join a leadership contest that so far includes popular-with-millennials Saskatoon doctor Ryan Meili. More candidates are rumoured to declare in the coming months. Murmur murmur!

2. HATE CRIMES AGAINST MUSLIMS RISE IN 2015 There were 159 police reports of hate crimes against Muslims in 2015, up from 99 the year before. Jews remain the leading target of religious hate crimes, with 178 incidents. Read more here. And yes, Alberta had the biggest increase in hate crimes, unsurprisingly.

3. SESSIONS IS IN SESSION U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee to answer (and not answer) questions about President Trump firing the FBI director. Hard to believe Trump hasn’t even been in office for five months and he’s already got his own Watergate going.

4. POULTRY WORKERS TORTURE CHICKENS Unacceptable.

5. TWIN SHOOTS TWIN IN SNAKE CRUELTY MISADVENTURE Two 14 year-old boys in Texas… Texas? Do I even need to continue? Just read the stupid thing here. And next time, Texas, maybe don’t raise your kids to be cruel to harmless (or close-to-harmless) animals.

DA: We Are The Champions

Daily AggregationIt’s a beautiful, sunny day in Regina, 21°C with a high of 24 this afternoon. Sunrise was a mind-boggling 4:46 a.m., and it’s staying there until June 21. Sunset tonight is 9:10, total daytime is 16 hours, 23 minutes.

1. FOUGEMAYOR IS PROUD Regina Mayor Michael Fougere, as reported by CJME’s Lauren Golosky: “…city council and the citizens of Regina very much want to have an inclusive, tolerant understanding community that respects human rights.” Cool.

2. GRIM ANNIVERSARY It’s been one year since the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando. Forty-nine people plus the asshole were killed and 58 were injured.

3. CANADA PAYS THE MOST FOR COMMON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS Don’t like it? Vote for political parties that promise to fix it, and if they get elected and don’t, complain to your MP then vote for different political parties that don’t leave their slobber on drug company’s genitals. We live in a democracy and we have the ability and moral right to demand good consumer protection rules.

4. SASK PARTY SLAMMED FOR USING PRIVATE E-MAIL Weird. I can’t think of any reason politicians wouldn’t want to use their work e-mail. I mean, how likely is it they have something to hide?

5. TWO OF REGINA’S THREE MURDERS THIS YEAR HAPPENED IN OR NEAR DOWNTOWN FYI. May the victim rest in peace.

6. THERE’S NO DIRECT BUS SERVICE BETWEEN SASKATOON AND CALGARY? That’s just all kinds of fucked up.

7. AMERICA BAILS AGAIN To no one’s surprise, the United States won’t join the other six G7 countries in a symbolic pledge of support for the Paris climate accord.

8. STUPID TRAVEL BAN BLOCKED AGAIN Good. Trump is a malicious bigot.

9. TRUMP GETS SUED Maryland and the District Of Columbia are suing the president for violating the Constitution, because he hasn’t given up control of his businesses.

10. EMPATHY FOR US DEVILS An awful lot of progressives — including one of my heroes, Thomas Frank — argue that liberals need to spend more time listening to the concerns of Trump voters. Here’s an excellent rebuttal to all that the hand-wringing that by Kathe Pollitt in The Nation:

Who is telling the Tea Partiers and Trump voters to empathize with the rest of us? Why is it all one way? Hochschild’s subjects have plenty of demeaning preconceptions about liberals and blue-staters—that distant land of hippies, feminazis, and freeloaders of all kinds. Nor do they seem to have much interest in climbing the empathy wall, given that they voted for a racist misogynist who wants to throw 11 million people out of the country and ban people from our shores on the basis of religion (as he keeps admitting on Twitter, even as his administration argues in court that Islam has nothing to do with it). Furthermore, they are the ones who won, despite having almost 3 million fewer votes. Thanks to the founding fathers, red-staters have outsize power in both the Senate and the Electoral College, and with great power comes great responsibility. So shouldn’t they be trying to figure out the strange polyglot population they now dominate from their strongholds in the South and Midwest?

I love the idea of empathy being a two-way street. Read Pollitt’s whole brilliant article here.

11. PITTSBURGH REPEATS Man that’s a good team. I guess I can live with them crushing my beloved Blue Jackets in the first round, especially since Regina’s Chris Kunitz is on that squad. Here’s a nice story about my sentimental pick for playoff MVP, Marc-Andre Fleury, here’s a tribute to Nashville’s lovably plucky team, and here’s the best victory song ever. Let’s send it out to everyone, because hey, we’re all champions.

DA: You Cruise, You Lose

Daily AggregationGood afternoon comrades, critics and media connoisseurs! It’s a gorgeous afternoon: 19 degrees, sunny as shit, not too windy. I’m not on a patio drinking beer, why? Right: I have a job. An awesome job! An aggregating job, even! I’d better get to it.

1. BUTT OUT Regina passed a probably overdue smoking ban. I’m not sure about banning smoking in public parks; that’s getting too nanny-statey for even this nanny-state fan. It’ll be nice to see fewer cigarette butts on the ground though, and if this helps people quit smoking that would be great.

2, BIG MEETING ON RAILROAD REDEVELOPMENT THURSDAY NIGHT Good. So is a pedestrian bridge/corridor to Dewdney going to be built? I’m sick of having to walk an extra 20 minutes to get to Iron Beauty, Bushwakker and Durty Nelly’s. Come to think of it, I haven’t been to Durty Nelly’s. Maybe because THERE’S NO EASY WAY TO GET THERE FROM DOWNTOWN EVEN THOUGH IT SHOULD BE A SIX-MINUTE WALK.

3. MINORITY REPORT British Columbia politics are officially fascinating now that the NDP and Greens have agreed to team up. Annoyingly, Christie Clark — whose Liberals got 40 per cent of the vote to the NDP and Greens combined 57 per cent — says she’ll stay on as premier until she loses a confidence vote. Can you imagine how badly right-wingers would freak out if an NDP government pulled a stunt like that? Then again, maybe that’s just the process that needs to be followed and I’m making a big deal out of nothing.

4. NOTLEY’S STILL PUSHING PIPELINES Well, she has to. Albertans don’t believe in climate change and Notley’s a hostage playing the hand she’s been dealt. She can’t be an environmental advocate until Albertans accept that they might need to make a few sacrifices for the future. They might as well; we’re all going to suffer from climate change sooner rather than later. Thanks to Big Oil, the window of opportunity for relatively painless adaption to the inevitable post-carbon future is shut; now it’s about how badly we’re going to get hurt. The sooner we act like adults and take our medicine, which will get more bitter the longer we wait, the better–and that goes triple for Albertans and their fantasy, never-ending fossil fuel economy.

5. COCKTALK That was my other idea for this post’s headline, but I couldn’t decide if it needed a hyphen or if that would spoil the joke. I guess I just liked it because it sounded dirty.

6. THREE-MILE ISLAND IS SHUTTING DOWN Also, Three-Mile Island was still operating? Huh. If you don’t know what I’m talking about because you weren’t alive in 1979 congratulations! You are a desirable demographic to our advertisers.

7. TORONTO ALT-WEEKLY SAYS SCHEER STINKS Perhaps you would be interested in reading this fine article.

8. HOW THE WEST WAS LOST The mighty Jeet Heer has a great column in nthe New Republic on how Trump has destroyed the European-American alliance. Read!

9. SHUT. IT. DOWN Portland’s mayor wants an alt-right demonstration cancelled because the alt-right activates maniacs like the would-be headhunter who killed two people after he caused a racist confrontation. Tangent: right-wing extremism is the kind of “free speech” pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Muslim Conservative leader Andrew Scheer wants to protect on Canadian campuses. Because inciting people to violence is free speech!

10. 16:05:43 The sun rose at 4:53 and will set at 8:59 for a glorious 16 hours, five minutes and 43 seconds of glorious sunlight. Whoop!

RESPECT THE TALK On the last Tuesday of every month, comedian Jayden Pfeifer brings his microphone and smart mouth to Talkies, Regina’s B-movie narration wherein cult classics like Monster Squad, sad piles of failure like Superman IV: The Quest For Peace and nature documentaries like Anaconda get a running commentary. Tonight, Pfeifer and guest heckler Krystal Lewis bring their love, contempt and sarcasm to the 1988 Tom Cruise proto-bro barbuster Cocktail (holy poop, it’s almost 30 years old). The fun starts at 7:00 at the RPL Film Theatre. Admission is free with a donation (cash or cans, cash being better) to the Regina Food Bank. Here’s the trailer.

“Transportation” Master Plan? More Like “Procrastination” Master Plan

After years of consultation and labour, the Transportation Master Plan goes before council tonight. I haven’t kept it a secret that I have some issues with how long it’s taken for admin to get us to this point and with how thin on specifics the final document is.

In fact, my misgivings run so deep it’d be hard for me to cover all the red flags I see in the TMP. Instead, I’m going to focus on one section concerning parking policies where all my concerns reside, in microcosm:

Note how this section says all the right things: If we want neighbourhoods and businesses to thrive we need adequate car parking; but, if that parking is too cheap or too plentiful, then it will undermine efforts to build healthier transportation infrastructure like public transit, cycling and walking networks.

All of that is true.

However, beyond making those obvious observations, this section doesn’t actually do anything. It includes a list called “Policies and Recommended Actions” but there are no real policies in here and if you thought “action” might translate as “actual projects,” there are none of those either. Instead what we get is: review, examine, review, review, resource, pursue, examine, study, encourage.

In other words, this section of the TMP isn’t defining parking policies or actions that can be implemented in the city, it’s proposing seven more parking-related studies, give or take.

Or, I suppose you could bundle all those together, and turn them into one comprehensive parking plan. But considering the TMP took five years to get from conception to council, exactly how long will a comprehensive parking plan take? Another five?

And what about the rest of the TMP? This parking section is only goal number nine — and it includes seven-plus recommended areas of study. The Transportation Master Plan is broken up into 33 different goals, each with its own list of things to review, examine, research, study, ponder, consider, appraise, meditate upon, mull over and daydream about.

That’s a staggering amount of farting around with a clipboard that’ll have to be completed before anything in the TMP can even be considered for implementation.

Sure, we’re told, the TMP has a 25-year timeline. But it took us one fifth of that time just to get to the point where we’ll let council look at it. How will 25 years ever be enough to implement this 33-part vision? Because on it’s face, all the TMP does is lay out the next quarter century of plans and studies. It doesn’t actually lock us into doing anything.

I mean, look at the table of contents…

The vision statements and goals take up pages 15 to 61. Implementation is only pages 62 to 69. That’s 46 pages of goals — most of which require multiple new studies — versus just seven pages spent contemplating the actual implementation of that vision.  Even if I’m charitable and add in all that could be considered action items in the appendices — the maps and road network improvements — that’s only another 17 pages that can be counted as implementation. Just 24 pages in total.

Incidentally, hiding in the TMP appendices is a Complete Streets Framework which sounds great…

I’d include it in those 24 pages of implementation except it isn’t really a framework at all. Rather, it’s a proposal to develop a framework. In other words, something else we can study, plan and examine before hiring a Toronto consultant to put a “Made-In-Regina Solution” stamp on the cover.

Seriously, all those things in item 2) of the Complete Streets “Next Steps” are what I thought the TMP was supposed to be doing.

Thing is, the city’s been working on the Transportation Master Plan since at least 2012. Why weren’t these reviews and studies done as part of that work?

What’s more, the TMP we’re looking at today is, in substance, identical to the TMP that administration brought forward back in 2015. (I know because I did a side-by-side comparison.)

What are we supposed to make of the two years since council first looked at the TMP and sent it back for refinements? As far as I can tell, all that’s changed are the fonts, the layout, and the writing’s been tightened up — mainly by removing detail and examples. There’s been no obvious progress on the plan in that time.

It really looks like two wasted years.

It’s also worth noting that over the last five years, a few efforts to improve the city’s transportation infrastructure have come forward that have been stalled or postponed because we’ve been waiting on this master plan.¹ Take, for instance, the cycling network: It’s been moldering all this time as admin has told us to hang on because the TMP is coming and it’ll address all our concerns.

All that said, there is a substructure to the TMP that seems solid enough, though, as I hinted above, it’s mainly relegated to the appendices: these are the maps of future bike and road network improvements. And there’s a list of specific roadway and cycling infrastructure projects. Great! But that’s the kind of detail I expected to see from the body of the Transportation Master Plan.

I have to wonder if maybe what’s going on is there’s stuff in the TMP that our council wouldn’t be too keen on if it was spelled out in detail.

For instance, in that parking policy section, there’s a reference to a parking pricing review. Funny thing, there was actually a motion years and years ago that would have examined the feasibility of pegging parking prices to transit fares. But that motion went nowhere. Pity. We could’ve had the proposal in Goal 9, point 2.37 crossed off our list already but, whoops, council isn’t so eager to get these things done when you lay them out all obvious-like.

Also, remember that time council passed the post-secondary bus pass and the attendant bus route expansion?  That UPass program was strongly opposed by Councillor Hawkins who said it smacked of “social engineering.” So, the UPass, while it so far seems to be a success, was hardly a slam dunk with city council.

It’s safe to assume then that if the TMP was a laundry list of specific action items and pilot projects, à la the UPass, the council debate on it would be a long mess of edits, deletions and horse-trading.

Still, if the goal of the TMP is to be a vague vision document that can then guide the harder work of designing specific programs in the future, then you’d think, if your organization was really enthusiastic about the goals of that document, you’d want to get it off your desk as quickly as possible so you could get down to the business of turning those ambitious notions into real policy.

Instead, just getting this vision thing to council took half of a decade.²

And there’s no guarantee that it’ll pass tonight.

Look, I get that governments are plodding, inefficient beasts. That’s a feature, not a flaw. They have to balance concerns businesses and households don’t. But I’d be a whole lot more sympathetic for how long this process is taking if the spirit of the TMP — it’s key goals and agenda — didn’t already exist in the new Official Community Plan. And in the Transit Investment Plan. And the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan. And in the Core Neighbourhood Sustainability Action Plan.

We’ve done all this before. We’ve put in days and months and years worth of broad public consultations that admin has then distilled down into the same list of platitudes about the need for sustainable growth and multi-modal transportation options. How many more do we need before we see some action we can be proud of?

We’ve been putting in the kind of work you’d think would get us somewhere. But Regina’s just spinning its wheels.

And that’s too bad.  At their heart, the TMP, the OCP, the TIP, DNP & CNSAP are all progressive, transformative plans. They contain the potential to make Regina a really awesome place to live.

I’m just worried I’ll be dead long before anything in them gets implemented.


FOOTNOTE
¹ I’d argue, putting off action while we wait for plans to be completed is a chronic problem at city hall. We currently have a really modest infill target for the city: 30 percent of new development is supposed to be infill while 70 percent should be greenfield. We’ve never once hit that 30 percent target since setting it. And when administration is challenged on this, they say they’re working on an “Infill Policy” that should be available… eventually. Next quarter. I’m sure.

² My son is six. Do you know how much he’s accomplished in the last five years? Way more than the TMP. Imagine if, for his sixth birthday party, my kid had presented us with an Age Six Action Plan that included “Review potty policy and examine feasibility of ending future diaper usage,” “Dedicate more resources towards own-name writing,” “Develop cost/benefit analysis of speaking in sentences” and “Pursue changes to naptime allocation.”

If he had, he’d at once appear super-precocious while at the same time being functionally way behind his peers.

We’d be like, “We think it’s laudable that you’re considering a Potty Use Policy. But you realize all the kids in your class were able to switch to exclusive potty use three years ago without first having to develop a ‘Made-In-Our-House Potty Solution’?

“Also, don’t you think the consultant fees you’re budgeting for are a little steep?”

DA: Scheer Hilarity

Daily AggregationGood morning and welcome to the last days of May! We’re looking at a high of 18°C and a low of four, and if you have a rough day and need a patio pint later, good news: it’s going to be a sunny evening. A perfect match for this fine morning! Speaking of tonight: sunset is at 8:58 p.m., while sunrise was at 4:54. That’s almost 16 hours and four minutes of daylight. Huzzah! Here’s some news. Let’s start with Dimples McDickly’s big victory.

1. LIKE STEPHEN HARPER BUT WITHOUT THE EVIL STRATEGIC CUNNING Regina-Qu’Appelle’s member of Parliament somehow won this weekend’s Conservative party leadership. How about that. The farmers might’ve helped. The Leader-Post’s Barb Pacholik has a fine, Regina-focused piece on his rise while CBC’s Eric Grenier crunches the numbers behind Scheer’s unlikely defeat of front-runner Maxime Bernier. Read more on Scheer here.

What else? Well, if the reality-based world wanted to get upset over something they could point to Scheer’s late 2016 call to shut down CBC news. Bernier said public media puts the government in a “glaring” conflict but I think he was being dishonest. The real reason he wants to shut down CBC news? CBC reporting and analysis is (generally) good, and good reporting causes problems for dishonest politicians. It’s the old Harper playbook: destroy your critics because you can’t win honest debates. It’s why Harper muzzled government scientists and it’s why Conservative MPs so frequently refused interview requests.

Speaking of fact-averse notions: the CBC is a public broadcaster, not a government propaganda outlet. If it was run by the government, CBC would’ve given Stephen Harper an easy ride, right? Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

As for private media, anyone who wants to review how news companies treat their sacred mission of informing the public might want to check this out.

One last thing: radical Christian groups are cheering Scheer’s win. The anti-choice organization We Need A Law even sent me a press release congratulating Scheer:

“We recognize his commitment to consistent values, and appreciate his solid voting record. Scheer voted in favour of bills like Cassie and Molly’s Law and Roxanne’s Law, which show care for pregnant women and pre-born children. Pre-born human rights were highlighted during this campaign in a way they have not been for a long time. It is encouraging to see open discussion around the injustice done to pre-born victims of crime, and awareness raised about the prevalence of sex-selective abortion in some Canadian communities.”

Gross. You never hear social conservative politicians talk about helping the poor. Their religious moralizing is cheap.

2. TRUMP… SHRUG So his son-in-law wanted a secret channel to talk to Russia? How is this not treason? What can you even say. No wonder Europe’s pulling back. Keep alienating your allies America, I guess.

3. THE END OF STC Awful. An essential public service is being trashed and good jobs are being wiped out because #BradBungledTheBoom. Everyone knows that any private company picking up the STC slack will demand and get handouts from the government, right?

4. CANADIAN DOCTORS APPARENTLY THINK MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION WILL HARM TEENS Despite the fact that Canadian teens are already huge potheads even though Marijuana is still illegal. Well, I’m skeptical it’s possible to make a law banning people from smoking weed until they’re 25 so Canada just might have to go the public education campaign/cross your fingers route. I know one pro- legal pot newspaper that would be thrilled to run ads expressing factually supported concerns about marijuana…

5. A GOOSE-STEPPING, NAZI-SALUTING WHITE SUPREMACIST SLAUGHTERED TWO PEOPLE IN PORTLAND ON SATURDAY And mainstream U.S. media treated it like a regular crime, which they wouldn’t do it the killer was Muslim. Double standard much?

6. GREAT WHITE SHARK JUMPS INTO FISHING BOAT, SURPRISING FISHERPERSON Like it says.

7. CAPITAL POINTE, GUESS WHAT? Delayed again.

8. HOW ABOUT THAT STREET FAIR? The Cathedral Village Arts Festival wrapped up this weekend with glorious sunshine and happy throngs of people, including some scoundrels who broke the rules and brought their pets. I took a few phone photos. Look!

DA: Rest In Peace, Chris Cornell

Daily AggregationGood afternoon, Regina. Ready for the weekend? Me too. Ready to work on Best Of Food anyway. WHEEE. At around 4:15 it’s a lovely 18C, sunny and mildly breezy. Tomorrow sounds great. Sunset tonight is 8:45, sunrise was at 5:04 and today’s total daylight is 15 hours, 40 minutes. Have a few links; one of ’em has a UFO!

1. LIBERAL CARBON TAX INFURIATES PETRO-GROUPIE POLITICIAN Oh COME ON. Climate change is real, action needs to be taken, the Liberals have a plan but Brad Wall hates it? It’s hilarious that an alleged fan of business and markets rejects the market-based response to climate change. Also, in case you’re wondering, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society supports the plan.

2. MEANWHILE GLOBAL WARMING FLOODED HUMANITY’S EMERGENCY SEED RESERVES (BUT THEY’RE OKAY FOR NOW) Kind of makes you think we’re at the point where climate change denial is a literal crime against humanity. I mean, the fucking seed reserves. You’d have to be cracked to think that’s not terrifying.

3. TRANSIT UNION SUES TO SAVE STC Is shutting down a Crown privatization? Government says no. Union says yes. Courts will decide.

4. NO SUPPER FOR YOU One in four Nunavut residents doesn’t get enough food and the situation needs national attention, say far-left hippies at the Conference Board Of Canada. “Canada doesn’t think as a country strategically around food. We don’t have a national food policy. We don’t have a national food strategy,” the report’s co-author told CBC. Well I for one support my tax dollars being invested in a public solution.

5. TRUMP SUCKS AT GAMES Good read here on why the President is terrible at getting things done. Politics might be poker but governing is chess.

6. CANADA’S BEST UFO INCIDENT TURNS 50 Read all about it.

7. CHRIS CORNELL OBITUARIES In The Guardian (plus this column on 10 essential songs), The New York Times, Rolling Stone and a bunch of write-ups in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative newspaper. I’m not a grunge guy so let’s keep this simple: here’s maybe Soundgarden’s best-known hit, “Black Hole Sun”.

DA: Fillet Of Father

Daily AggregationHI THERE. What’s new? Seriously, what’s new? Let me know in the comments. Hey, it’s only 8°C and the high’s just gonna be 12. I hear there’s a chance of frost tonight. Sunrise today was at 5:07 and sunset is at 8:42 for 15 hours and 35 minutes of cloud-filtered daylight. Have some new links!

1. KEEP ON TRUMPIN’ The most awesomely incompetent U.S. president of anyone living’s lifetime is probably making a lot of money for the Washington Post these days. What can you say about a dipshit president who warned, then fired, the FBI director investigating his administration’s Russian connections and then leaks an allie’s intelligence to Russia? How about “LOL”? Here’s today’s headline, about Republicans struggling to deal with President Trump’s watergate-level shenanigans.

2. STC WORKERS SUE SASK Read all about it.

3. PROVINCE GETS GOING ON CATHOLIC SCHOOL FUNDING DECISION APPEAL Story here. Greg’s working on something on this for this issue, notwithstanding something going wrong (see what I did there?).

4. SENTENCING UPDATE CBC reports on the La Loche and Hannah Leflar sentencing hearings.

5. NEW CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS? TELL ME MORE The Trudeau government brings in new legislation to prevent a United Airlines-style traveller-pummeling.

6. CHELSEA MANNING IS FREE On the occasion of Chelsea Manning’s release from jail, here’s Glenn Greenwald on the whistle-blower’s cruel abuse by military prison authorities and her blue-sky future.

7. HIGH STAKES FOR BLACK SNAKES Here’s an interesting and depressing conservation story about how attempts to protect beautiful and unique Alabama habitat and wildlife have inspired misinformed landowners to kill snakes and possibly tortoises.

8. McDONALD’S GETS IN TROUBLE FOR AN INOFFENSIVE AD I like this ad. It’s sweet, and all the outrage is frivolous, over-sensitive, classist and just plain lazy McDonald’s-bashing. In short I agree with this writer. Anyway, if we’re talking about offensive ads here’s one worth getting angry about (no, it’s not the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad; that was so LOL hilariously ill-conceived I can’t get mad at it).

DA: The Saint Of Killers Returns

Daily AggregationHappy noon Regina! It’s 17°C en route to an 18 high (update: it’s 19 at 12:20) and it’s just gorgeous out. Sunrise was 5:10 a.m. and sunset is 8:40 for almost 15 and a half hours of glorious daylight. Have some news links.

1. DAY OF THE HACKERS Beware, Internet humans: there have been shenanigans.

2. HARASSMENT IN JUSTICE Saskatchewan’s Justice ministry produces the most harassment complaints of any ministry, though very few are investigated.

3. DEPT. OF CORRELATIONS: WARMONGERS HAVE A HARD TIME FINDING NORTH KOREA ON A MAP Interesting if not surprising.

4. CALL IN THE CITIZENS Civilian Review and Complaints Commission chair Ian McPhail says RCMP work culture is broken and needs civilian oversight. I think it’s bad news anytime a police force doesn’t have civilian oversight. Just dangerous, and unsafe for the cops working in dysfunctional workplaces.

5. RAPE, MURDER AND MUTILATION IN INDIA Awful.

6. SEGREGATION AND BLOOD PRESSURE African Americans who live in highly segregated U.S. neighbourhoods have higher blood pressure than African Americans who live in more integrated neighbourhoods, a study says. Gonna go out on a limb and guess segregated neighbourhoods correlate with vulnerable communities and their attendant poverty, underfunded schools, inaccessible health care, poor economic opportunities, etc. etc. etc.

7. A PERFECT DINOSAUR DISASTER The asteroid that wiped out Earth’s all-time coolest animals hit the right place at the right time to unleash maximum devastation.

8. PATS ARE OUT An unforgettable year for Regina’s WHL side ends just short of a championship. Can’t win ’em all.

9. RYAN VS. RYAN One of my favourite hockey players is peeved at Anaheim Ducks pest Ryan Kesler. I miss Ryan Johansen being on the Columbus Blue Jackets. The trade for Seth Jones was great for both teams, but still.

PREACHER PROMO The first season had its moments (a violent, bloody and hilarious fight between Jesse, Cassidy the vampire and three unkillable angels was a laugh-out-loud highlight) but it also wandered pointlessly and treated its characters like plot devices rather than, well, coherent characters. So should we watch season two when it starts June 25? I’m undecided, but the trailer is fun.

DA: Late Afternoon Quickie

Daily AggregationIt’s been a little too long so here’s a few news links. Glance at ’em on your phone and make a mental note that you’ll look at them later when you don’t have an after-work pint in front of you. This is a lie: you and I both know you probably won’t get around to it. But that’s all right; this gave me a chance to say “have a good weekend!” at you. Have a good weekend!

1. WEATHER AND SUN STUFF Oh yeah, I’m supposed to write that sunrise was at 5:14 and sunset is still hours away—8:35 p.m. Total daylight is 15 hours, 21 minutes and we’re still more than a month away from the summer solrice! The high today was supposedly 23°C and right now it’s 22 and ludicrously swell outside..

2. THE HEAD OF THE U.S. CENSUS QUITS Read about it here and enjoy the grim analysis here. Speaking of census fights, readers will remember Stephen Harper’s government going after the Canadian census in 2010. The predictable result: a data disaster.* Politicians who attack the collection of data do so because facts get in the way of their agendas. Never forget that.

*Although I am tickled to live in a country that gets excited when politicians restore the mandatory long-form census.

3. FEMINISTS VS. TRANSGENDER RIGHTS, WTF I’m not sure I should even link to this story, but it exists, so… blah. More on the topic here.

4. ELON MUSK’S SASKATCHEWAN BACKGROUND Mark Melynchuk files some interesting stories for the L-P. This is one of them.

5. MORE TRUMP VS. COMEY NONSENSE Whatever!

DA: I Made A Stupid Video

Daily AggregationHappy Thursday! Too bad it’s not nicer out, HA HA HA HA HA j/k it’s ridiculous: 23°C right now (1:00-ish) and going up to at least 24 this afternoon. Sunrise was 5:27, sunset is 8:23, total daylight is 14 hours, 56 minutes and I’m not drinking beer on a patio because I have work to do. But it’s FUN work so that’s okay.

1. BYE, BYE GOOD OL’ SGI, DROVE MY CHEVY TO THE LEVEE BUT INSURANCE WAS TOO HIGH Hot on the heels of the Sask Party’s announcement it could sell off almost half of SaskTel — which would cripple the crown and pave the way for full privatization, no matter what Brad Wall claims — the government says private companies want to buy parts of SGI. That said, stories like this don’t help the case to keep insurance public, which has a duty to be more compassionate than private companies.

2. SASKATCHEWAN LEADS CANADA IN STOPPING POOR PEOPLE FROM HAVING FUNERALS A proud day.

3. SASKATCHEWAN FIDDLES WITH DISABLED TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE Fiddling would be fine but the bottom line is disabled people in care homes will lose $750 million in funding.

4. WOW, THE EDMONTON OILERS GAVE WOMEN’S WASHROOMS TO MEN Garbage. And this from a team whose owner is tangled up in a cash-for-sex lawsuit. Female fans should sue the Oilers, the league and the City Of Edmonton (which put $131 million toward Rogers Place and is the official owner) for sex discrimination. Seriously.

5. U.S. CONGRESS PASSES AFFORDABLE CARE ACT SABOTAGE BILL BY A FOUR-VOTE MARGIN Next step: the Senate. Good luck with that.

6. SHOULD SIDNEY CROSBY RETIRE? Yup, says Keith Primeau. These concussions are ridiculous.

7. PRINCE PHILIP CLEARS HIS SCHEDULE Queen Elizabeth’s husband is retiring at 95. Also, Queen Elizabeth’s husband is still alive at 95.

HERE’S A STUPID I was bored and made a dumb cell phone video about how Prairie Dog functions. Or is that dysfunctions?