Category Archives: News

Trophy Hunting is Not a Sport and Should Be Banned

Reading about Cecil the Lion has been breaking my heart. What a pointless end to such a beautiful creature. The rich American who killed Cecil deserves all the hatred coming his way right now.

Even as a vegetarian, I have no problem with people who hunt for food. But so-called “sport hunting” or “trophy hunting” is barbaric and should be illegal. If these big game hunters want to get a thrill shooting something, put them in a forest with other hunters and let them battle it out Hunger Games style. In real sports there’s a good chance you will lose.

Even here in British Columbia, the government permits trophy hunting of grizzle bears. Maybe Cecil’s death will spur support for Andrew Weaver’s private member’s bill to end trophy hunting.

Photo by Peter Glenday

Journey of the Nishiyuu

Nishiyuu warriors leaving Whapmagoostui
Since January 1st, I’ve run 400 km in the course of my marathon training, something I’m very proud of. It sure sounds like a long distance, but it pales in comparison to the 1600 km that 6 young Cree snowshoed over a similar period. If you haven’t heard of the Journey of the Nishiyuu you should check it out. The 6 youth (all under 20) and a guide walked from Whapmagoostui in northern Quebec to Ottawa between January 16th and March 25th, averaging more than 23km per day. Their goal is to unite first nations and bring attention to aboriginal issues.

If you are thinking of following in their footsteps, the Google Maps walking directions won’t help you as there are no roads, just hundreds of frozen rivers and lakes. The map on their website will give a better sense of the route they took.

Pretty inspiring stuff.
Nishiyuu Walkers arrive on Parliament Hill to find a few thousand more gathered, waiting to welcome them to the end of their (emotional and physical) journey.

Mandating Helmet Debates

Biking the Blossoms
Get ready for the great helmet debate, round 243. If you’re just joining us, Momentum Magazine has the best article summarizing the reasons for and against helmet laws, and explaining why we’re still arguing about it.

Today, the NDP government in Manitoba announced that soon it will be illegal for anyone under 18 to ride a bike without a helmet. I couldn’t be more disappointed. I have nothing against helmets, I wear one every day, but mandating their use won’t make cycling safer, it will just discourage some people from cycling at all.

I learned to ride in the mean streets of Winnipeg and often biked around the city, including to my co-op job when I was 19 – from Meadows West to the Exchange District. For a large portion of that ride I used the sidewalks because there were no bike lanes and biking along Keewatin was (and likely still is) suicide. Most cyclists I know in the Peg (other than my hardcore Aunt) ride on the sidewalk sometimes. Everyone knows it’s a bad idea (including Ryan fu*king Gosling), but helmeted or not, Winnipeg lacks safe bike routes.

Only hours before the Manitoba government announced it’s new helmet law, a cyclist was killed biking to work in Winnipeg. No word if she was wearing a helmet, but it likely wouldn’t have mattered. She was hit by a car and pushed under a semi-trailer that crushed her without even noticing. The area where it happened is a bike lane deadzone. There is a bike route (the laziest form of bike infrastructure – a sharrows) for a few blocks on Higgins, but it disappears before it gets to Main (where she was hit). Bike routes in Winnipeg frequently just stop. There is not network or grid.

The lack of infrastructure is the biggest safety problem, not lack of helmet use. If the Manitoba government was serious about cyclist safety, it would help the City of Winnipeg fix the damn bike lanes. There’s only so much a styrofoam lid can do when you are hit by several tonnes of steel.

Here in Vancouver, we have a good grid of bike routes, separated lanes downtown, and cycling is relatively safe. There’s a push to get rid of the mandatory helmet law, or at least add exceptions to it, because it is making a public bike share system unworkable. It’s not going to be an easy change to make, and I’m pissed off that Manitoba is falling into the same trap.

Has #OccupyVancouver jumped the shark?

Occupy Vancouver Tent City
I’ve been supportive, I’ve dropped off food and tarps, I’ve attended some rallies, but my enthusiasm is waning and public support for Occupy Vancouver is fading.

Last night #occupy protestors interrupted a debate on homelessness and made asses of themselves. This is not what democracy looks like. Screaming over other people so they can’t talk is what a dictatorship looks like.

The people attending the homelessness debate were likely sympathetic to the #occupy movement. Well, not anymore. Over the next few days, #occupy will be evicted from the steps of the art gallery, but don’t expect the masses to rally to their cause. They’ve managed to alienate most of their sympathizers.

I still agree with many of the sentiments expressed by the #occupy protestors, I just think the movement (at least here in Vancouver) has jumped the shark. It’s too bad, it had lots of promise.

Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

Marching Down Nelson
I attended the Occupy Vancouver protests on Saturday. I was impressed by the diversity of people and opinions represented. Yes, there were plenty of non-economic issues on display – 9/11 truthers, vegans, organic farmers, marijuana legalizers, and fringe political candidates – but the majority of people were there because they were concerned about the economy. Some naysayers in the media have chosen to dismiss the Occupy movement because it’s unfocused, represented by unemployed hippies and punks, and lacking in clear direction, but I think they’re wrong.

Naysayers say: The middle class isn’t part of the Occupy movement.
My response: There sure seemed to be a lot of middle class folk out on Saturday, including myself. Personally, I’m debt free, I’m not looking for a handout, my income is likely in the top 10% of Canadians, and I have lots of savings in mutual funds. And like the other middle-class folk who support the Occupy movement, I’m worried about the future.

I’ve been maxing out my RRSP contributions for the past 5 years, and this is what the market has looked like since I started investing – right were it started.

Yes, I know the philosophy – the market always rises over the long term. But there’s a lot of assumptions baked into that, and I’m not sure they’re going to hold for much longer. We have an economy based on exponential growth, but our resources are finite and quickly diminishing.

I want to see a stable financial system that ensures a vibrant middle class. I want to know that one day I’ll be able to afford to own a house and have kids. It’s ridiculous that I’m in the top 10% of income earners, and yet I doubt the reality of that.

Naysayer: Wall Street is responsible for our wealth and prosperity.
Me: I know firsthand how messed up Wall Street is (or Canary Wharf in my case). I worked for Morgan Stanley in 2005 – writing software for traders dealing in credit default swaps (one of the products that lead to the financial crisis in 2008). I witnessed comp day, when traders were given multi-million dollar bonuses, everyone was drinking champagne, and parties were off the hook. How different is it today?

Naysayer: Protesting won’t accomplish anything.
Me: It has already has accomplished something. It has started a long over-due conversation about fair taxation and the future of our economy. The fact that these articles have been written and people are reading them is a huge:
Occupy Economics: Is the system broken? – CBC
Tax the rich: Should millionaires really pay more? – Christian Science Monitor
Here Are 4 Charts That Explain What The Protesters Are Angry About – Business Insider
In a Single Month, the Occupation Became a Force – Wired
Why They Joined Occupy Vancouver – The Tyee

Naysayer: Talk is cheap, activists don’t have any concrete solutions.
Me: There are lots of solutions being proposed.

A Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions seems to be getting the most traction. Adbusters has suggested a Global March on October 29 to support it.

On Saturday, there were people talking about bringing back Glass-Steagall – US legislation (that I had never heard of) that forced a separation between investment and commercial banks. It was repealed in 1998.

Other suggestions included more regulation on banks, higher taxes for the rich, and even ensuring no CEO can be payed more than 1000 times more than the lowest paid employee. I don’t think the Occupy movement suffers from a lack of solutions.

It will be interesting to see how the Occupy movement evolves in the coming weeks and if any concrete results come of it. If enough people rally behind a Robin Hood tax, it could become a reality. Will it morph into a political force, a la the Tea Party – maybe not.

Why I Support #OccupyVancouver

Occupy Wall Street
The economic system treats me well – I have a good-paying job, I’m debt-free, and 95% of my net-worth is invested in mutual funds. But our economic system is showing cracks.

  • The gap between the rich and the poor is growing, and surprisingly growing faster in Canada than in the U.S..
  • The extreme wealthy have a disproportionate amount of political power and are sheltered from paying taxes. You know the system is unbalanced when people like Bill Gates, his father, and Warren Buffett want more taxes for the rich.
  • Our economic system is based on exponential growth, fuelled by conspicuous consumption, and it’s destroying our environment.

But that’s just my opinion. If you want some others, go to We are the 99% on Tumblr or this insightful analysis. I recommend listening to Arcade Fire’s Suburbs album while scrolling through the images. I’m officially nominating that album as the soundtrack to the occupy protests – especially Ready to Start.

The #OccupyWallStreet movement has been criticized for not having direction or solutions, but I think that has been its strength. That vacuum has started a conversation that has allowed for some insightful ideas.

Those conversations have lead to suggestions like specific bank regulations, maximum wages for CEOs, and a robin hood tax on financial transactions.

I’m not sure what to expect today (hopefully no violence), but I’ll be joining the protestors at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I’m not bringing a tent or witty sign.

Image by Esther Lee.

Weekend Reading

Olympic Village Community GardenGeoff Meggs on the Olympic Village – 73% occupied; laundry/dry cleaning coming soon; Village Kitchen spring 2012; London Drugs and Urban Fare summer 2012; Salt Building no tenant.

Spacing’s New Issue Arrives – all about urban farming and food. I’ll wait until we’re done our elimination diet before I read it.

They cannot stop the 99%Adbusters’ Kalle Lasn Talks About OccupyWallStreet – interesting interview about how Occupy Wall Street started.

Occupy Vancouver – coming October 15th. Thousands of people expected. They even RSVP’d on Facebook.

Our Very Own Highline – an intriguing proposal to turn the the old Port Mann bridge into a park instead of spending $50 – $100 million to demolish it. Did you know that the new Port Mann is set to cost $3.3 billion. And yet some people are up in arms about Translink’s extra 2 cent tax on gas, which will raise only $40 million a year.

Image by freestyle