Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Makes It Really, Really Hard To Feel Bad For Him

From the Toronto Star:

Mayor Rob Ford unequivocally says there is no video that shows him using crack cocaine.

Asked by a caller to his Sunday radio show whether it is indeed him in the video described by the Star and the U.S. website Gawker, Ford laughed and responded, “Number 1, there’s no video, so that’s all I can say. You can’t comment on something that doesn’t exist.”

Ford firmly called the reports “false,” a word that did not appear in his Friday speech at City Hall. In that speech, he said, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist.”

Many city councillors and political pundits were unsatisfied with the speech, urging Ford to address the reports more thoroughly. Ford suggested Sunday that he believes he has said enough.

“No matter what you say, I found out, to the media, you’re never going to make them happy. You can give them 10 bars of gold and they’re going to want — why don’t I give 15 bars of gold? Well, you know what, folks, that’s the media that we have, unfortunately,” he said.

Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother and co-host, said 80 per cent of journalists are “nasty son-of-a-guns.” Rob Ford interjected: “Bunch of maggots.” After a brief pause, he added, “Sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”

Doug Ford later asked listeners to contact him with any personal information about members of the media. He accused unnamed reporters of using cocaine themselves.

“Maggots”, eh? So! Whose word do we take?  The journalists and media outlets that can be sued if they get their facts wrong or the angry politician with a documented history of lying whose biggest supporter is his anti-drug crusader brother who allegedly sold drugs in the ’80s*? Tough call.

But oddly enough, the nagging shard of guilt I had over being in a When Will Rob Ford Resign? pool has completely vanished.

 

*And how come a guy like me who takes an occasional puff on someone else’s joint maybe once every six months, and who has never used hash and never sold drugs, is in favour of legalization, while Doug Ford, who was allegedly once a middle-level drug dealer, is opposed? I have theories; feel free to share yours below.

Sask MP Wants To Shuffle Cathedral Out Of Proposed Regina-Lewvan Riding

Lukiwski's riding jiggery-pokeryOne of the major changes that the federal boundary commission proposed for Regina is the creation of the urban-only Regina-Lewvan riding. It will take up all of the western side of the city.

Seeing as the Conservative Party is none too happy with the idea of urban-only ridings finally coming to Saskatchewan, they’d rather not see this be created.

And after Saskatoon-Wanuskewin MP Maurice Vellacott finished raging before the Procedure and House Affairs Committee about how the boundary commission is biased, Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre MP Tom Lukiwski proposed his own solution.

He told the Procedure and House Affairs Committee that while he doesn’t agree with the boundary commission’s proposal he understands that they’re hell-bent on bringing in urban-only ridings. Accepting that, he thinks their map would be improved if they moved the Cathedral neighbourhood out of the new urban-only Regina-Lewvan riding and into the one urban-rural split riding, Regina-Qu-Appelle, home of house speaker, Andrew Scheer.

The proposed Regina-Lewvan riding is in that image above, with the part Lukiwski wants moved coloured green. Click to embiggen.

Lukiwski’s reasoning is that he anticipates great growth in the Harbour Landing neighbourhood and in years to come that will make the Regina-Lewvan riding over populated. By shifting Cathedral to Regina-Qu-Appelle, Regina-Lewvan will be under populated for a while but can be free to grow in future.

A conspiratorially minded fellow, however, might think this is a move to gerrymander Regina’s ridings and shift Cathedral’s often-NDP-friendly voters into an riding where their votes will be offset by Conservative-friendly rural votes.

But that’s just what a conspiratorially-minded fellow might think.

Now there’s no reason to think the Procedure and House Affairs Committeee will pay any attention to Lukiwski — although, based on his chummy testimony with them, it sounds like he was once a member of that committee and the men on it seem to hold him in some regard. But even after the committee makes their recommendation, the boundary commission doesn’t have to take them into account in their final plan.

Either way, seems the boundary commission fight is far from over.

You can listen to the complete April 16 meeting of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee meeting at this link.

Six In The Morning: Margaret Thatcher Is Dead, Dead, Dead

6-in-the-morning1 SEE ABOVE Here’s the BBC, some more BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Canadian Press and the Guardian, and more Guardian, and more Guardian and still MORE Guardian. Oh, and here are a couple of articles on Margaret Thatcher and feminism. And here’s the CBC story, which has this key factoid: “Once in office Thatcher slashed the tax rates for the wealthiest Britons, increased the value-added tax (VAT), reduced government subsidies and began to sell off state-owned enterprises and public housing. The number of unemployed quickly doubled.”

2 ONE OUT OF FOUR CANADIAN NURSES SAY YOU SHOULDN’T GO TO THEIR HOSPITAL IF YOU’RE SICK Yikes.

3 AND ANOTHER ROOF DOWN AND ANOTHER ROOF DOWN; ANOTHER ROOF BITES THE DUST Another Regina business’ roof collapses due to snow. The business is a pawn shop. Maybe landlords should maintain their buildings eh?

4 NEW HOSPITAL CONSTRUCTION DELAYED IN NORTH BATTLEFORD Read all about it.

5 “TECHNICALLY SPEAKING WE’RE NOT HIRING FOREIGN WORKERS TO REPLACE OUR OWN. THE FOREIGN WORKERS IN QUESTION AREN’T OUR EMPLOYEES. THEY’RE EMPLOYED BY A COMPANY WE’VE CONTRACTED WORK OUT TO SO THAT OUR PROFITS SHALL BE EVEN GREATER. PLEASE STOP BEING MAD AT US NOW.” Good luck with that one, Royal Bank of Canada.

6 FEDERAL BUDGET CUTS BENEFIT GOVERNMENT SECRECY Gee, laying off close to 20,000 civil servants makes it harder for Canadians to learn about their government. Well that’s not a heap of self-interested Conservative malarkey, nooo.

BONUS: MORE PROBLEMS WITH OUR CRAPPY WEATHER It’s bad for teh kittehs!  Also, this is nuts. The normal high/low is 10°C/-4°C but today’s forecast is -7 °C/-18 °C.

A SONG ABOUT ENGLAND Pinched from this Guardian piece about songs about Margaret Thatcher. Enjoy.

Speaking Of Troglodytes

Get a load of this, from yesterday:

Keith Ashfield, a Conservative Party member of the Canadian House of Commons, was recently on tour to promote the Canadian budget. When he popped into a local home for a photo op, he found the most awkward way ever to compliment a young lady for her cookie baking skills. After enjoying his free pastry, the dummy made an ass out of himself when he said she’d “make a wonderful wife for somebody someday”.

Moreno wasn’t offended and said that taking the minister’s comments “out of context” is unfair. I don’t see where context has been omitted in this story and, while I’m glad Moreno isn’t upset, it’s still a terrible and sexist thing to say.

“Bigot” Is A French Word

Hordes of prejudiced French demonstrators marched against same-sex rights today:

Hundreds of thousands of people – conservative activists, children, retirees, priests, many bussed in from the French provinces – converged on the capital on Sunday in a last-ditch attempt to stop the bill. The lower house of France’s parliament approved the “marriage for everyone” bill last month with a large majority, and it now faces a vote in the senate next month. Both houses are dominated by President François Hollande’s Socialist party and its allies. Sustained protests led by opposition conservatives have eroded support for the draft law in recent months, and organizers hope the march will weigh on the senate debate.

Of note: it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the rights of women, people of colour, gays and lesbians or the poor: in North America and Europe at least,  the fight against  human rights, knowledge, freedom of expression, science and progress in general is led by self-described conservatives, many of them from rural areas. Something to ponder.

Full story in The Guardian and there’s video of the protest from International News 24/7 below.

University Of Regina Board Of Governors Chair Paul McLellan Is A Very Confused Man, Please Give Him Some Space

Right on fucking cue:

If, as was approved in a council motion, there’s a request for publishing the salaries of everybody at the university, Paul McLellan wondered to what purpose this would be put? Would its release conflict with privacy laws? And isn’t much of this information – specifically, that covered by the three collective agreements for employees at the university: academic, support/maintenance and adminstrative – already available?

Holy crow. Look, dude, pardon my brusqueness, but I downed about half a litre of wine last night and so I do NOT have patience for your bullshit this morning. I am going to tear you to shreds in this post. I don’t know if you think a Twitter is something you put on breakfast cereal to give yourself more vitamins but if you do know what it is definitely don’t check mine this morning because after I finish this post I am going to be even meaner to you, and I promise that only part of it is because I am still angry that you never wrote me back after I gave you all of those nice letters. Although one of your representatives did invite me to ask permission to attend a board meeting and argue my case. After I graduated. And after I organized a sit-in and had security physically bar me from your boardroom. You make me furious.

First off, holy shit, were you busy playing Words With Friends when they sorted this all out? Item one, people would read those salaries, compare them to other salaries, and then try and figure out whether those salaries were proportionally fair and in line with the limited budget the university is able to access in this, probably the worst time for public universities since back when the biggest threat to their livelihood was Visigoths sacking them and burning down their library. Second, the release of salary information would not conflict with privacy laws; the president of the university said as much in response to someone asking that exact question. Do you not pay attention when Vianne Timmons is talking? That is very rude. Board meetings must be hell. I don’t know because I’m not allowed in them but now I’m imagining everyone throwing paper airplanes around while the three adults in the room try to sort out the horrible budget crisis facing every post-secondary institution in North America. No wonder you don’t want anyone else to see these meetings.

After the jump there is much more, because the Leader-Post piece goes on in this fashion for an incredulity-stretching amount of copy:

Continue reading “University Of Regina Board Of Governors Chair Paul McLellan Is A Very Confused Man, Please Give Him Some Space”

B.C. Jerk Opposes Day Of Pink

Ted Hewlett, president of British Columbia Parents and Teachers for Life, doesn’t like that the B.C. Teachers’ Federation is endorsing the Day of Pink in schools. No, no, no he doesn’t, if this article in the Georgia Straight from yesterday is any indication.

If you need a feel for Hewlett’s group, check out their website. Top post as I write this is a collection of links to stories about the recent Bill Whatcott Supreme Court decision, posted with the tag “Rights for a Free Society”.

With that in mind, what possible problem could Hewlett have with the BCTF bringing Day of Pink, an event meant to raise awareness of homophobia and transphobia, into schools? You could probably guess. The Straight quotes him as saying:

“I’m not saying they’re the same or exactly comparable but we do not expect schools to positively affirm a drug-taking lifestyle, a drug-taking behaviour,” he said. “Now there are people who would say that homosexual behaviour is also harmful from a medical point of view. We don’t go around picking out every single lifestyle, in order to affirm it.”

While [director of social justice programs for BCTF] Ruzic said that research has proven that homosexuality is something people are born with, Hewlett dismissed that idea and said he would have to see those studies.

And I’m sure if he saw any of that research, Hewlett, the impartial advocate, the man fueled purely by reason, would change his mind. Hewlett wants his own ideology to be the law of the land in B.C. schools, and doesn’t care how many students suffer as a result.

School Board Decision On Connaught Is Actually Doubleplusungood For Heritage Architecture

li-connaught-school

For a moment last night I was thrilled about Connaught being rebuilt!  (CBC) (Global) (LP)

Then my hopes were dashed by CTV’s coverage that said Connaught will actually be replaced.

Well played, Regina, well played. You get me every time.

Let’s Try This Again: Rosie’s Six In The A.M. Part Duh

IT ISN’T GODWIN’S LAW, BUT … The Conservative Party, the riding gerrymandering and the robocalls illustrate that Stephen Harper believes the words of Josef Stalin: Who marks the ballots is unimportant. Who counts the ballots is everything. And it kind of looks like my MP (pray for me) Tom ‘The B Team’ Likuwski didn’t get the memo. As usual.

IF CADMUS DELORME OR WAVELL STAR READS THIS, I’D APPRECIATE IF YOU COULD PLEASE TRANSLATE ‘LAYETH THE SMACK DOWN’ INTO NAVAJO If there’s a better way to banjax an all-WASP anti-immigration rally in Arizona, I’m all ears.

NOSES IN THE TROUGH Unsurprisingly, Mike Duffy took the exit through the kitchen when he evaded reporters. (Hope the chefs put a lock on the fridge.) He didn’t want to answer questions that he’s a senator representing Prince Edward Island while not living in PEI. When he was a journalist, he called politicians who did stuff like that to avoid answering questions cowards. And, of course Senator Patrick Brazeau (apparently representing nobody but himself these days) apparently keeps pace with the sleaze.

GOOD LUCK IN COLLECTING It turns out that the corpse of Richard III, King of England from 1483 to 1485, was lying underneath a parking lot Leicester since he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field. According to one wag who Tweeted the Guardian newspaper, the daily rate in that city’s car park is 18.5 pounds sterling a day, so given the number of days between his burial and his exhumation, his estate owes 3,564,006.50 pounds in parking fees, about $7 million Canadian.

IN RESPONSE BRAD WALL SAYS TOMMY DOUGLAS HAD US ALL PREPARED The number of alcohol-related deaths increase with the availability of alcohol through private liquor stores, according to a British Columbia study.

I GUESS IT DIDN’T IMPRESS THEM MUCH Shania Twain’s career hasn’t cratered, but her music hall of fame in her home town sure has, and will.

 

YOUR MUSICAL MOMENT OF ZEN To show how much I like Shania Twain, here’s Steve Earle singing ‘Nowhere Road.’

Shooting Tame Deer Is Evil

From the Winnipeg Free Press:

Members of a Manitoba Hutterite colony found the fawn in a ditch, its umbilical cord still attached, and brought the orphaned animal into their sanctuary. They hand-fed the deer fresh-baked bread and its favourite beverage: sweet tea. Children frolicked with their cuddly pet and the community laughed when the deer came to church one Sunday. They called him Bambi. Manitoba Conservation officers killed Bambi Saturday on a colony street while the animal’s foster families watched in horror.

“They shot him right in the front lawn and there were quite a few of us watching from the windows,” said Evie-Lynn Maendel, who lives on the Windy Bay Colony, located near Pilot Mound in southwestern Manitoba. ” I saw him fall and he was thrashing around for about a minute. It was hard to see for everyone.”

Fuck. Not okay. Sometimes things happen in life that require a more nuanced solution that idiotic adherence to normally good rules and policy designed to protect both the public and animals. Maybe Manitoba’s government should bring in legislation to make it easier for people in rural areas to give sanctuary to orphaned wildlife.

Of course that’s probably an overreaction too. the best solution would’ve been to offer some support to a community that did a good, Christian thing for an animal.

This is a catastrophic failure of decency, humanity and wisdom. It’s also a profound example of laziness. And cowardice.

Do better, humans.

The Boundary Backlash Is Baloney And Don’t Just Take My Word For It

Yesterday I wrote this gentle little sonnet about the people whining about proposed urban political ridings:

Conservatives are tossing out every bullshit rationalization they can think of to keep the current system because the current system is broken in their favour. In fact, one of the three commissioners — David Marit, who represents rural Saskatchewanians as the president of SARM –wrote a profoundly embarrassing and shameless dissent. We get it, Conservatives. You like your Saskatchewan kingdom and you’ll do whatever it takes to keep it. And fuck logic, and fuck democracy, and fuck NDP, Liberal and Green voters, and fuck integrity.

Today the L-P has Murray Mandryk’s excellent column on David Marit’s boundary commission dissent:

In Marit’s minority report, he suggests that business and political presenters to the commission (who happened to be Conservative supporters) know better than the commissioners what’s best for their communities. Really? Local Conservative-minded mayors, councillors and businessmen are more informed and less biased than a respected political scientist and judge?

The message should be clear whether one prefers my drunken ranting or Mandryk’s sobre punditry: Conservative gerrymandering won’t get a free ride this time.

I hope the Tory party hacks shamelessly trying to torque the system in their favour are getting the message.

*There’s a small error in Mandryk’s column: he says: “We’ve had these four-way splits only since the last Saskatchewan boundary hearings when the commission was bullied into the current cockamamie map that views Wynyard and North Central Regina as communities of similar interest.” Actually, the cockamamie goes back to 1966. In 2002 the bullies successfully fought to KEEP the cockamamie map. It was ridiculous, but they got away with it.

Well-Broken News: Electoral Boundary Stuff

Due to distraction, sickness and over-thinking, we’ve barely posted anything on the release of the Saskatchewan Boundary Commission’s report on new electoral boundaries (Although John at least mentioned it yesterday in his Six In The Morning (point five)–thanks John!). And I don’t have a lot of time–working on a 20th anniversary issue here! But this is super important.

So in brief: the 2012 Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Saskatchewan report has been released and you can and should read it!

At a glance, the Commission appears to have stuck to its recommendation to create a bunch of more or less dedicated urban ridings for the next federal election in 2015. And that’s good. As it stands, Saskatchewan’s political ridings–the areas that our members of Parliament represent–are broken as hell. Right now they mix rural areas and urban areas in such a way that the overwhelmingly Conservative voting habits of rural, um, jerks*, are able to swamp less Conservative urban votes. The result is gruesome and unfair: despite almost a third (32.32 per cent) of Saskatchewan voting NDP in the last election, we elected 13 Tory Trolls (and one friendly Liberal of the Goodale variety).

In total, nearly 44 per cent of Saskatchewanian voters voted against the Conservatives but the Conservatives won 93 per cent of the seats anyway. That’s not democracy. That’s a goddamn farce.

The best way to fix this bullshit is humongous electoral reform that dumps our current system and moves to something like proportional representation or preferential ballots (which I like lots because I like ranking things). But that’s not on the table right now.

What IS on the table are re-drawn ridings that make goddamn sense.

And now they’ve been proposed.

Naturally, not everyone likes them. Conservatives are tossing out every bullshit rationalization they can think of to keep the current system because the current system is broken in their favour. In fact, one of the three commissioners — David Marit, who represents rural Saskatchewanians as the president of SARM — wrote a profoundly embarrassing and shameless dissent.

We get it, Conservatives. You like your Saskatchewan kingdom and you’ll do whatever it takes to keep it. And fuck logic, and fuck democracy, and fuck NDP, Liberal and Green voters, and fuck integrity.

Your point is made. Clearly.

Hey, don’t take my outrage as the final word. MacLean’s Colby Cosh (who John linked to yesterday, but this is important) says this:

Palliser MP Ray Boughen, a former mayor of Moose Jaw, would have gotten his clock cleaned if not for the Moose Javian votes. Farmer Nettie Wiebe, the NDP candidate in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, won a majority in the city and got beaten narrowly (for the third time in a row) on the strength of rural votes. And, sure enough, Speaker Scheer got fewer votes within Regina than the NDP’s Fred Clipsham.

The system is broken. A repair is on the table. Don’t believe self-serving Conservative lies about the solution being unfair. The end.

*Quick update/clarification: Only the rural Conservative voters are jerks. Non-Conservative-voting ruralites–many of them authors and artists and musicians and culture-loving people–are absolutely lovely.

Six In The Evening: Snow, Blowing Snow, Snow Awfulness Edition

6 in the Evening

1. A BIT OF SENSE IN THE WHOLE ZERO DARK THIRTY DEBATE. Bringing some historical perspective and cogent thinking to the topic, Steve Coll’s piece in the New York Review of Books on the role of torture in Zero Dark Thirty is the best thing you’re going to read on the topic. Even if you haven’t and don’t intend to see the film, it’s still worth a read.

2. YOUR GUIDE TO ALL THINGS TE’O MANTI. So many strange and conflicting stories! Is Te’o Manti a victim of a cruel hoax? Is he the mastermind behind the vaporous Lennay Kuaka? Is Lennay Kuaka actually a real person? Is Manti is a young, closeted football player who went to absurd lengths to create (and kill off) an internet girlfriend? Let’s look at the evidence together and weep for humanity.

3. CLEAR! We’ve all known for a while just how awful Scientology is: how it fleeces the gullible out of their savings, runs a bizarre prison for disobedient members and cultivates an obnoxious religious argot based on abbreviations of words that don’t need abbreviating. But now it seems that cracks in its structure are widening. A long but fascinating read.

4. BREAKING, OBVIOUS, NEWS. IS THIS NEWS? As I write, Lance Armstrong is chewing his fingernails and telling Oprah Winfrey (and the rest of us) what we’ve known for some time: that his unprecedented string of victories happened with the aid of blood doping. Now Lance must be purified in the crucible of Oprah’s regard. Go Oprah! “Goprah.”

5. DID YOU KNOW THAT ‘DEAR ABBY’ AUTHOR PAULINE PHILLIPS APPEARED ON MR. ED IN 1964? The notion of a talking horse is unbelievably creepy. Can you imagine a horse’s mouth forming recognizable human speech? What would that voice sound like? Would it have a horsey accent? What would a horse even say, beyond the trivia of stable life? I mention this because Pauline Phillips has died at the age of 94, and she probably had some thoughts on horse speech. At the very least she’d know what the appropriate response would be to the presence of talking horses.

6. CAPITAL POINTE SOMETHING SOMETHING. The world’s most boring property development is located in Regina and it looks something is finally about to happen with that snow-covered lot where the Plains once stood. Actually, the news story is about how something hasn’t really happened yet, but with the filing of permits and approval of said filed permits, something could totally happen! Business!

Six In The Morning

1. THE OSCAR NOMINEES HAVE BEEN UNLEASHED. It’s a warm morning in Regina (but cold and storms are coming), so in consideration of the balmy weather, the Academy of Important Flicks announced the nominees for the Oscar ceremonies. It’s the usual round of pious and portentous films (Life of Pi, Lincoln) with a couple of interesting choices thrown in (Django Unchained, Amour). More interesting by far is a consideration of the snubbed and ignored. Moonrise Kingdom? A writing nomination. The Master? Acting nominations only – not even a nod for the 70mm cinematography. And where the hell is Holy Motors in the foreign language category? What, did they only release twenty films in 2012? Screw those guys.

2. WAIT, YOU HAVE TO PAY A LICENSE TO OWN A TV IN THE UK? According to the TV Licensing Authority, there are still 13,000 black and white television sets in use in the UK. The number surprised me initially, but it turns out that annual television licenses are only a third of the price for black and white sets. Then again, we’re talking about a country where the biggest book distributor is set to be McDonalds.

3. I GUESS THEY DIDN’T POLL THAT FARMER WHO HATED “VOICE OF FIRE.” Canadian Heritage polled the Canadian public (that’s us!) on our engagement with the arts, and it turns out that, dudes, we are so super-engaged that we’re all like, “Go arts! Fund that shizzle! Let’s book it to a live performance now!” Because that’s how we roll, bro. The Harper Government is expected to roll up the results of the poll and cover it in cheese and a mild salsa verde.

4. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THE DEFENCE DEPARTMENT.  Here’s a disheartening read about counterfeit Chinese electronics in Canada’s Hercules C-130J aircraft. Oh my God, you may be thinking, I’m glad that they discovered those fake electronics six months ago. Now they can get on with the business of replacing them with genuine parts. Ah hah hah, no. Apparently the government has no concerns, because the planes have been working just fine so far. Just fine! The fact that 27 per cent of the counterfeit chips failed in lab tests doesn’t bother them, I guess. In related news, we’ll be hiring soldiers from Matchbox for the foreseeable future. Minister MacKay is scheduled to conduct a recruiting drive from one of those vending machines at the grocery store. “I hope I get a few paratroopers,” Mr. MacKay said as he twisted the knob on the machine.

5. CHRONIC PREMATURE FEMALE ORGASM. Apparently it exists.

6. GOOD NEWS FOR THOSE DERANGED FREE WILLY FANS OUT THERE. A pack of killer whales, trapped for the last two days in pack ice off the coast of northern Quebec, is now free to go about its previous business. Of killing. Hey, they’re not called event planning whales.

We Won’t Be Fooled Again

On Monday, First Nations people across Canada were out protesting by the thousands right under the noses of the media. How were we supposed to know? We were busy with the Ikea monkey that day! Yeesh. But, being the gracious hosts that they are,  hundreds of protesters held a redo today at the legislature. Luckily our friends at the LP were on the ball today and were there to cover it. Phew! That would have been embarrassing.

What’s making the natives so restless? Oh, little things, you know, this and that.