Friday, August 31, 2007

Now They Know How Many Holes It Takes . . .

The Liverpool Murals Project brings together former republican H-Block prisoner Danny Devenny and Mark Ervine, whose father used to run the political wing of the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force.

You don't know how lucky you are boys, back in the USSR. Not.

It took me so long to find out, but I found out.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Against the "Pilger inspired pro-Palestinian left". . .

What he said, what he said, and what she said.

One voice:

One voice:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Against totalitarianism. For progress. No apology.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Bulletin From Our "Life Imitates Art" Department

A guitarist who once played in a band with Stompin' Tom Connors has died after tumbling off the roof of his Milton apartment building while being pursued by a swarm of angry hornets.

Wayne Chapman, author of such Stompin Tom tunes as My Home Town and The Bars of Vancouver, dead at 52. So long, Wayne.

From The Bug Song: ". . .until a couple of hornets take up the chase, I'm howlin'."

Here it is:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

West Coast Writers: You're Wanted On This Line

One of the worst things about the Vancouver civic strike, which now looks as though it may go on for weeks, is that it's left the city without a library.

This just happens to be a very lousy turn of luck for me, because the Vancouver Public Library contains one of the most important centres for Chinese-Canadian geneological research in the country, and that's exactly the resource I was hoping to use for a long project I'm working on at the moment. The project took me all the way to China earlier this summer. Now I can't get into the Saltwater City library.

It's harder on the library workers, of course. I confess to a particular sympathy for the library workers. Every book I've written has been at least partly the result of a collaboration with a librarian or a group of librarians. They're the unsung heroes of literature. They not just literature's guardians. They're key workers in the production of literature.

One of the most difficult issues on the bargaining table for Vancouver's library workers (CUPE local 391) is pay equity, and this is something that further arouses my sympathies. Pay equity was the key issue in the sit-down strike I had the honour of helping lead as the chairman of the joint council of unions at the old Daily Columbian, in New Westminster. Women who'd been working for the newspaper for 20-plus years, in the old Guild jurisdiction, were getting paid roughly half the wages of young men in the craft unions their first day on the job. It was hard fight, and it meant fighting our union headquarters, too.

So here's what the headline of this post is about.

My chum Todd Wong - library worker, convener of the world-famous annual Toddish McWong Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Dinner, astonishing Dragon Boat commodore, and all-round terrific human being - is inviting novelists, poets, non-fiction writers, essayists and musicians to read, perform, or just chat with Vancouver's striking library workers at the Central Branch Library (Library Square - 350 West Georgia Street). Todd and the union plan to have a featured presenter every day at 1 p.m.

Says Todd: "Vancouver Public Library is one of Western Canada's biggest public reference libraries and a vital part of our cultural, business, historical, academic and arts communities. This is our first strike in our 77-year union history. We are striking for respect, pay equity and other key issues."

So if you're a writer or a musician of some sort and you'd like to lift the spirits of the people on the library picket line, now you know how. You can reach Todd at gunghaggis at yahoo dot ca, or you can call Todd on his cell phone at 778-846-7090.

I'm pleased to say I was the first writer in the series (I'm the guy with the microphone in the photograph up at the top of this post). It was a lovely day, and the librarians there are the nicest people you'll meet in a day's walk.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"You will be known by the company you keep. . ."

Neil Reynolds at the Globe's Report on Business notices what pretty well nobody on the Canadian left has noticed about the Canadian Action Party: It's a right-wing nationalist party that perfectly reflects a "dark and deluded populism" and "a strategic convergence of the reactionary right and the lunatic left."
Kady O'Malley at Mclean's mag provides an excellent and delightfully amusing account of the recent goings-on among and between CAP's Connie Fogal, the Illuminat-hunters, Freemasonry experts, Birchers and 9-11 Truthers here, but she needn't have apologized for initially referring to CAP as a "conservative" party. She ends up concluding that CAP is "if anything, a more left-leaning party than even the New Democrats."
I think Reynolds is wrong, too, when he says further North American integration would be a good thing. But he's right about the way just one consequence of all this craziness is that the "left" in Canada has largely dealt itself out of any rational debate about the merits of ideas like a common continental "security perimeter" and so on.

It's all "a sinister plot being carried out under our noses," of course, but I see Agent Radwanski has thrown our enemies into confusion and disarray.

Fine work all round. And so we carry on, just one of the "literally thousands of Hasbara grunts, coordinated by octopus-like tentacles of the Elders."

We are everywhere. We are legion. Hidden, in plain view:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"The Faceless Minions Of The New World Order"

A "recipe for transnational socialism," blueprints for a top-secret superhighway from Mexico to Alaska, "master-planners" building a Trojan Horse that contains secret agents intent upon carrying off a coup d'etat, elaborately planned by a shadowy elite.

Ron Paul, Pat Boone, Connie Fogal, the John Birch Society, Maude Barlow, the Conservative Caucus: More convergence on the far left and the far right.

A subtle pattern begins to emerge. . .

UPDATE: Ron Paul, the extreme-right Texas Republican who is running for president of the United States, enjoys the enthusiastic support of a section of the Vancouver activist set. The "Canadians for Ron Paul" (if that isn't embracing "continental integration," I don't know what is) set up a booth on the lawn in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery recently. They say they hope to influence American tourists to register as Republicans when they get home, to vote for Paul. The leaflet they were distributing ("Bring Our Troops Home Now") points out that Paul "has never voted to raise taxes," "votes against the welfare state," and "votes for conservative principles."

And now we have famous Vancouver marijuana activist Marc Emery campaigning for Paul, too. "We have a saying up here: 'American politics is far too important to leave to the Americans,' " says Emery. Actually, we don't have any such saying up here, but it's worth trying to imagine how we'd respond to some impudent Yankee celebrity who said: "We have a saying down here: 'Canadian politics is far too important to leave to the Canadians'. " If he ever set foot north of the border after that, he'd want to be awfully careful about himself.

Which brings me to the most amusing irony of the recent "Stop The North American Union" hubbub. The Vancouver protest march was organized by "No One Is Illegal" - which is against the existence of borders, including the Canada-U.S. border.

Badda-bing, tish.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Callum Roberts: This is no "Requiem for the Sea"

There was a time not long ago, in the waters off Nova Scotia, when fishermen were catching bluefin tuna bigger than moose. As recently as the 1950s, it was commonplace for sports fishermen to return from a day's fishing off Key West, Florida, with goliath groupers weighing more than 200 kilograms.

Turn the clock back a few more years, and one finds nine-kilogram lobsters in the Gulf of Maine, the waters of the Caribbean were writhing with millions of sea turtles, and mariners sailed in seas where the air was heavy and pungent with the breath of whales. Porpoises in British waters were so numerous, Irish novelist Oliver Goldsmith observed, that they were routinely found in the Thames River upstream of London.

On it goes like this, in Callum Roberts' The Unnatural History of The Sea. But cheer up. There's a way to restore something of the productivity and majesty of the seas, and Roberts explains it well. My review is in today's Globe and Mail, here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Christopher Hitchens Vs. Marvin Olansky in Texas

As American evangelicals go, Olansky is as thoughtful and intelligent as they come.

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Alvaro Orozco Should Stay: Tell Diane Finley

Anyone who induces, promotes, propagandizes or practices in scandalous form sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex commits the crime of sodomy and shall incur 1 to 3 years' imprisonment.

That's the law in Nicaragua. It's not a relic from the distant past. Article 204 of the Nicaraguan Penal Code was promulgated in September, 1992. It is a barbaric law, and Canada has just found itself in the fortunate position of being able to let the Nicaraguan government know how much contempt we have for state-sanctioned persecution of minorities - and in the same stroke of the same pen we could warmly and formally welcome this brave young man to Canada.

The latest is that Alvaro is hiding out in Toronto. Simon's properly furious about this.

Immigration Minister Diane Finley can be reached at

When I wrote the minister I made the point that her government has had a lot to say lately about building democracy around the world. One might also point out that our soldiers have been dying in Afghanistan in no small part to defend the principle that human rights are universal rights. It would be no sacrifice on Finley's part to do the right thing here, to shame the Nicaraguan government, to give courage and comfort to Nicaragua's gay community, and to grant Orozco his claim.

No sacrifice at all.