Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Back to the Grind

The Bad: My visit to Ontario happened to coincide with weather so poor that it was (justifiably) named JimBobby's Outrage of the Week.

The Good: There are few (political) topics I find less interesting than the whole Gomery affair so it was nice that I missed all of the latest round of silliness.

I was struck by a couple of things on my first day back in B.C. (but luckily not by any of the incompetent Vancouver drivers who really have to be the least skilled in all of Canada):

1) When I first moved here, I was puzzled that Vancouver appeared to have two major daily papers, The Sun and the Province - both owned by the same company. Now I don't read either paper regularly since their web presence is laughable and the few times I have come across a paper copy I was uninspired to say the least (maybe I'm a Toronto snob when it comes to papers but I really do think the Toronto papers are much better).

But based on my observation of the front covers of the Sun and Province I have come to the conclusion that only one of them (the Sun) is actually a newspaper, and the other one (the Province) is really just the work of single photographer who hangs out at the local police precinct and writes up each day's most sensational crime in a big headline along with some quote from the relevant cops (Today's headline: "Eastside gunfight kills man, wounds another").

2) The other thing is that on my way to work I was reminded of the 'Safe Streets Act' which was passed a little while ago here in B.C. (similar legislation passed in Ontario in 2000). Readers may recall that I tend to judge legislation based on how its name compares to its intention. So the worst laws are those where the title of the act is the opposite of what the law is intended to accomplish, Ontario's 'Tenant Protection Act' being a prime example. Not as bad, but still unpromising are laws which invoke the mantra of 'safety' to provide cover for something which is not really about safety at all.

In this case, what the B.C. Liberals were after was really a 'Less Annoying Streets' act. I'm somewhat ambivalent about the law myself. On the one hand, it just seems like one more way for society to harass it's most downtrodden, desperate members, but on the other hand, the streets of downtown Vancouver can get pretty annoying at times, and certainly the actions targetted by the bill (aggressive panhandling, panhandling a captive audience, say at a bus stop) annoy the heck out of me.

Which, at long last, brings me to my point, which is that the most annoying thing on the streets right now is not panhandlers, it's the gauntlet of people making hopeful motions in my direction, obstructing my path to the bus, and indeed soliciting a captive audience at the bus stop, all in the hopes of fobbing off a free 'newspaper' on me in an attempt to position yet more advertising in front of my eyeballs. I couldn't help thinking to myself as I walked to the bus that, 'there ought to be a law' and then I remembered, there is.

So what does it all mean? Not much really, other than perhaps that I tend to be cranky the day after a vacation, when I realize how much stuff I have to catch up on...

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  • the incompetent Vancouver drivers who really have to be the least skilled in all of Canada

    Nope. Pickering. Trust me.

    By Blogger pogge, at 7:01 PM  

  • That's a big call about Vancouver drivers. They do drive me nuts when I'm merging onto Hwy 1, but I'd rather be on the Sea to Sky hwy with Vancouver drivers than Ontario drivers.

    And when was the last time you drove a car, anyway??

    BTW, the front page of the Province on the top of my recyling pile has a picture of a minister and the headline "Hands off our church!". Nary a word about police or crime :)


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:03 PM  

  • I assume you are talking about the recent explosion of 'free local dailies' which would be better thought of as an explosion of 'piles of melting garbage on the ground and thousands more people who feel that they are informed about the issues when really they've only read a 1x2 inch column with little-to-no genuine information in it.'

    I'm pretty pissed off about those myself.

    By Blogger one-dimensional man, at 9:50 PM  

  • Indeed one-dimensional-man, I refer to those accursed free dailies, although it's not unheard of for people to be giving away overpriced free copies of the Sun either.

    Shaun makes a good point that my conclusion about Vancouver drivers (which I did not reach lightly) is based on my experience primarily as a pedestrian and refers to in-city driving rather than suburb or freeway driving. True, I haven't lived everywhere in Canada but I've covered my share of places (although like most I generally pass through Pickering and try to avoid stopping there at all costs - I think I passed through it 6 times just last week and I live in B.C.).

    Note that I didn't say aggressive or obnoxious, I said incompetent. By which I mean failing to look for pedestrians when making right turns, getting stuck in intersections, getting into accidents - that kind of thing.

    That's true I remember the 'Hands off my Church' headline (from early last week, or maybe the week before?), and I remember noting that it broke a string of crime related front page stories - I guess we'll see if they can prove me wrong tomorrow (Wednesday).

    By Blogger Declan, at 11:00 PM  

  • The same company that owns the Sun and the Province also owns the number one TV news station and the 1 radio news station. Not only do they sometimes run the same news stories on all 4, but frequently they run the same editorials on one or more. For example last Thurs the Sun had an editorial calling for an end to official multiculturalism. Sure enough someone was calling for the same thing on CKNW that very day. On Wed, I think, the Sun had an editorial saying that MPs should not be sent anywhere to study the prostitution issue. Sure enough, Global has being “following” this "story".

    The Sun editorial page is sounding more and more like a Conservative talking points memo. On Thursday there was an editorial by Yaffe lauding some Conservative MP for reasons I do not understand, the editorial calling for an end to official multiculturalism, an editorial calling for Kofi Annan to step down and an editorial questioning the fairness of native fisheries.

    By Anonymous koby, at 8:04 PM  

  • ^
    They own more than that - something like 50% or so of the local weeklies as well, including 2 of the best known, the Courrier and the North Shore News. Plus our wonderful little new Metro!

    By Blogger one-dimensional man, at 3:06 AM  

  • CWG doesn't own any radio stations in Vancouver -- the top N/T station (CKNW) is a Shaw/Corus outfit. When WIC was divvied up, the TV stations (BCTV included) went to Global, while most of the radio properties went to Shaw.

    That said, the Vancouver Sun editorial page usually reads like a missive from the Conservatives -- except on some social issues, where the Sun more closely reflects the attitude of most Vancouverites. The rest of the time, they're so far out of touch, it's laughable.

    By Blogger Ian, at 12:57 PM  

  • One of them is the Kitsalano View, and is so hard-core alternative it gave Criminal Gord (got your shirt yet?) a rough ride in an exclusive interview!

    An example of the hard-hitting questions:
    "What is your next step noe that the economy has been stabilized?"


    By Blogger Thursday, at 10:13 PM  

  • I'm sensing some hostility towards CanWest global here (OK, I started it). At some point in the near future I plan to add some links to local media sources - it will be interesting to see how many of these are owned by CanWest. (if anyone knows a good roundup of all the local media links, feel free to comment or email me).

    By Blogger Declan, at 2:54 PM  

  • I couldn't agree more about Vancouver drivers. I've lived here for 15 years and I don't think there's worse drivers anywhere in the western world. NOBODY knows what a signal is. It used to be that nobody signalled when changing lanes, but now that also includes turning corners. I think the West Coast air leads to a cronic disease that inhibits the use of our left wrist. Then there's the excessive speeders & racers, with their air dams on their lowered Hondas, that result in numerous deaths each year. And then there's my fave, the "pulling out into traffic without looking", often by drivers who can't even see over their wheel, that results in you locking up your brakes & 99% of the time there's not one driver behind you for a block. Grrr. Don't get me wrong, I love Vancouver and the folks are infinately more friendly than Torontonians (I lived there for 2 years), but the cops HAVE to ticket drivers for these offences. They don't and that's why our drivers are brain damaged fools that shouldn't operate a tricycle.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:41 PM  

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