Will The NPA Survive?

January 31, 2021

A couple of weeks back, I wrote a piece about the 2022 civic election that touched on the troubles within the Non-Partisan Association (NPA). Since then, their problems have exploded into the public’s consciousness with a fury I am sure they never expected.

On January 21st, the Tyee published an article entitled “Worries Rise that NPA Board Could Run Extremist Candidates in 2022,” which expanded on some of the issues I had raised and featured details about Angelo Isidorou, a recently empaneled NPA Director. Isidorou was photographed at a 2017 protest wearing a MAGA hat and flashing a hand signal widely recognized as a symbol of white power.

This was far from the first instance of right-wing extremism shown by the current NPA Board. Director Wes Mussio has strongly criticized mask-wearing, and has used Trumpian insults to describe BC’s pandemic response, preferring to live in Florida rather than Vancouver. Christopher Wilson, who used to work for the extremist right-wing Rebel Media outfit, suggested last year that residents should harass homeless people whom he called “lowlifes.”

Isidorou and Mussio were added to the NPA Board last November when two more moderates resigned. Councillor Rebecca Bligh had resigned from the NPA Caucus early over similar concerns.

It seemed that the NPA Board had decided to try to ride out the storm by saying nothing about the Tyee article. However, the pressures from both outside and inside the party became too great and a statement was issued that satisfied none of their critics:

“The article is nothing more than part of a clearly co-ordinated smear campaign to besmirch a newly appointed board member, as well as a continued campaign against the conservative persuasion of the board,” the statement said. “It is becoming increasingly clear the smear campaign against the NPA and its board members are designed to distract from the poor governance of the City of Vancouver under Mayor Kennedy Stewart and his progressive allies from COPE, OneCity and the Green party.”

The Tyee responded by pointing out the falsehoods in the NPA statement, and the Vancouver Sun described the NPA statement as “decidedly Trumpian”:

“Mawhinney’s statement didn’t include the expression “fake news,” but it bore a distinctly Trumpian tone, and party leadership seemed to be following the former U.S. president’s template of refusing to answer journalists’ legitimate questions on matters of public interest, with party leadership choosing to attack media coverage deemed unfavourable, without actually refuting anything or citing any inaccuracies.”

With their first response withering on the vine, the NPA released another statement:

“On behalf of the NPA Board, the party denounces racism and discrimination of ALL forms. We are an inclusive political organization and support every citizen of Vancouver.”

Still not good enough, less than two hours later, the NPA’s entire elected 9-person caucus (described by the Breaker News as “dominated by liberal women” in contrast to the board “dominated by conservative men”) demanded that the NPA call an AGM to elect a Board that would “reflect the values of the elected caucus, long held ideals of the organization, membership, and the diversity of our city and residents.”

The following day, in an interview with Lynda Steele, Councillor Sara Kirby-Yung announced that an open AGM would be held.

Angelo Isidorou resigned from the Board, said his white power gesture was just “mimicking” Donald Trump, and that he planned to sue both the Tyee and Postmedia.

Tough days for the oldest party in Vancouver. The Sun ran an editorial cartoon which was forwarded to me by one of the party’s previous major donors with a note saying the party was now “a sad joke.”

Image: River at Sundown

January 31, 2021

Night Music: Something

January 30, 2021

GWAC on Strathcona Park

January 30, 2021

This month’s meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is on Monday 1st February starting at 7:00pm. It is, as usual these days, a ZOOM meeting.

The main topic this month is the tent encampment on Strathcona Park, its impacts and possible solutions. The discussion will be led by Katie Lewis, secretary of the Strathcona Residents Association.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 846 2095 7804 Passcode: 669540

Death In Paradise — Why?

January 29, 2021

For those not aware, Death In Paradise is a British TV crime series. From what I understand it is one of the top three shows, by audience, on British TV and has managed to last for nine seasons, now being broadcast in most countries of the world.

Set on a fictional island, a British possession in the Caribbean, each episode of the series sets up a murder mystery — often a variation of the locked room genre — that needs to be solved by the police led by a visiting British detective inspector. It is often comedic in a lighthearted way, and highly formulaic.  The setting is beautiful (filmed on Guadeloupe) and, for what it is, the acting is fine.  Nearly every episode has one or more guest stars who are well-known personalities on British TV.

It is, however, racist to the core and a paean to colonialism.

It is racist because, although most of the local — black — police characters are shown to be both interesting and good at their jobs, in no case is the murder ever solved by anyone other than the white detective. In the formula used to close every episode, he — always a he — gathers all the potential suspects together and explains in detail how he has brilliantly worked out the mystery.  Applause all around while the British detective takes his bows.

As for the colonialism, there is no attempt to have a local officer work their way up to the inspector level. The inspector is always seconded from London. And always white. It is as if black British actors such as Idris Elba, David Ajala, or Lenny Henry don’t exist.

I am probably making too much of this; after all, I am sure the production gives lots of work to local actors and crew. But it does piss me off.

Image: Philadelphia #1

January 29, 2021

Dinner Tonight #69

January 28, 2021

Fish pakoras, with bok choy and rice. Pretty tasty!

Night Music: Irish Boy

January 28, 2021

Petition Against Safeway Tower

January 27, 2021
Image: artists against the towers

Further to my note of a couple of weeks ago regarding the growing opposition to a series of huge towers at Broadway and Commercial, the group now has a petition that I urge everyone to sign.

The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/NomegatowersatSafeway

Image: CA XV

January 27, 2021

Night Music: Desperado

January 26, 2021

Finally, A New Blue

January 26, 2021

Over the years I have written a few pieces about the colour blue, including the invention of Prussian Blue, and the philosophy behind the colour. Now, we have a brand new blue discovered by accident in Oregon.

image: Oregon State University

It is called YInMn after its ingredients: Yttrium, Indium, and Manganese — “and its luminous, vivid pigment never fades, even if mixed with oil and water.”

“Blue pigments, which date back 6,000 years, have been traditionally toxic and prone to fading. That’s no longer the case with YInMn, which reflects heat and absorbs UV radiation, making it cooler and more durable than pigments like cobalt blue. “The fact that this pigment was synthesized at such high temperatures signaled that this new compound was extremely stable, a property long sought in a blue pigment,” [Mas] Subramanian [the lead chemist] said in a study about the compound.

The new blue was discovered in 2009, was licensed for exterior use in 2016 but has only now been made available for general use.

In Memoriam: Kanno Sugako

January 25, 2021

On this day in 1911, the Japanese authorities executed by hanging the radical feminist anarchist Kanno Sugarko for her role in what was called the High Treason event.

She was 29 when she died having moved in her short life from an interest in Christian welfare organizations through socialism to an understanding that only revolutionary anarchist direct action could improve the lives of Japanese women and people in general.

Kanno Sugarko was the first woman political prisoner executed in modern Japan.

Poem: In Progress

January 25, 2021


The older woman at the bar

thrusts out her breasts

exposing her defiance

of gravity

only to reveal

the clever architecture of her foundation


etched in lines and grooves across her back.

Such women

with such pretensions

shouldn’t wear white sweaters

tucked tight into yellow stretch pants.

the shadows of the lines and grooves

accentuate the engineering

drawing our attention

away from the points she wants us to watch.

And once you notice the bra-lines

across her back

you ignore the synthetically pleasing roundness

of her surgically-enhanced bosom

across her front

and instead you focus

the lines and shadows that dog

her face

even through the most post-modern make-up

and you ask

probably silently

why this woman needs to hide her age

why this woman needs to pretend

she is still a sexual object.


why the sexual attribute has become so all-fired damn important

when sex lasts for but minutes

and friendship lasts forever.



Vancouver for Renters?

January 24, 2021

Last Thursday, SFU Public Square hosted a ZOOM conference entitled “Towards a More Equitable Housing System: Is Vancouver a City for Renters?” It was co-hosted by Meg Holden of SFU and journalist Kerry Gold. More than 500 people joined the event, including at least seven Vancouver City councilors. It was, in my judgement, a very worthwhile two hours because of the range of viewpoints expressed.

The meeting kicked off with a poll asking participants to select the most urgent housing issues facing Vancouver at this time. 62% said homelessness, 52% cited affordability, and 47% suggested a lack of social and co-op housing opportunities.

The meeting proper began with a presentation by Andy Yan using his vast collection, and understanding, of the relevant data. He showed that renters represent 53% of households in the City, about the same as since 1971. This population is not spread evenly across the city: his maps shows 82% in Strathcona, 81% in the West End, and 62% in Grandview.

Further graphs showed that it is considerably more expensive to own property in Metro Vancouver than it is to rent (without even taking the down payment into consideration) and this shows, in his opinion, that renting is the wave of the future. His data also shows that roughly half of all renters earn less than $50,250 a year, whereas the median income of owners is $88,431.

Another interesting graph showed that for the purpose built rentals (PBR) approved between 2017 and 2020, 25% had anticipated rents suitable for those earning $150,000 and over, 66% for those earning over $80,000. Very few has rents suitable for the vast majority of the population earning a living wage.

Yan also noted that beyond affordability, accessibility is a real problem as the vast majority of new build approvals from 2009-2018 were market rental, with just a small number of rental suites. Thus being a renter has become significantly harder over the last decade.

Following the presentation, two more polls were conducted:

In the first we were asked to choose what types of rental should be built. 66% said co-ops, 63% said below market, and 53% said social.

In the second we were asked to prioritize the rental protection measures we wanted to see. 77% suggested protection of the current rental stock, 69% voted for anti-speculation measures, and 57% wanted more protection for displaced renters. I should note that vacancy control was not on the poll list but was given as an alternative by many of us i the chat box.

The panel discussion consisted on contributions from Evan Siddall of CMHC, Barbara Steenbergen of the International Union of Renters, Leilani Farha from The Shift, William Azerofff of Brightside Housing, and Khelsilem representing the Squamish Nation.

Sidddall kicked off the debate by decrying the glorification of home ownership and promoting a shift to rentals. He believes a paradigm shift is needed in cities that currently favour the rich.

Barbara Steenbergen gave a welcome European perspective, noting that in most of Europe housing is a right, that renters have significant protections, and that there is little or no disdain for public housing. She also noted that their are social rent laws in much of Europe. She suggested that it takes time to develop these protections and that we in Canada are just at the start of that process.

Leilana Farha made a pitch that what she calls the financialization of rental housing — the buying up of rental properties by REIT-financed corporations who then increase rents to improve their profits — IS speculation and must be seen as such.

Khelsilem gave a pitch about the 6,000 units the Squamish people are currently building on their land in Vancouver, with much more to follow on the Jericho lands etc. However all of these will be market rentals, with no social housing. He was very keen on the build more for affordability nonsense that decades of experience in Vancouver has proven to be false. He also seemed to suggest they would need huge subsidies in order to build more affordable housing.

Bill Azeroff discussed how Brightside is planning to expand on their existing properties to create more affordable units. He believe it is vital to have rents that are affordable in the areas of the city is which people have grown attached.

In the general discussion that followed, it was depressing to hear so many people still claiming that the only way toward affordability is to keep building unaffordable rentals. The myth of trickle down — which has never worked in ANY economic sphere — is still alive and kicking in Vancouver.

That being said, this was a valuable discussion and it was particularly interesting to hear the perspective of a European expert on how far behind we are in this field.

Night Music: Alone Together

January 24, 2021

Spies: A Memory of 60 Years Ago

January 24, 2021

When I was eleven years old I lived in Ruislip Gardens which is a tiny suburb of Ruislip which, in turn, is a small suburb hanging on to the western edge of London.  I had a newspaper route which I took care of seven days a week starting at six each morning.

In London in those days we had a dozen or more daily newspapers and each subscriber to our delivery service could receive any permutation of papers. Most houses took two papers, and some many more. Sorting the right papers into the the right order in the right bags was a vital part of each morning’s routine at the shop.

By Christmas 1960, I was one of the senior delivery boys and had thus inherited a long route that covered the main road from Ruislip Gardens to Ruislip and included several side streets along the way. It took almost two hours and I sure earned my breakfast every day. On school days, it was split between two boys.

One of the side streets to which I delivered newspapers every day was Cranley Drive. And at 45 Cranley Drive lived a Canadian couple, Helen and Peter Kroger. I know I delivered papers to them but I don’t recall them at all, not even from the Christmas tip. However, in January 1961, the Krogers were arrested, and I do remember the street being closed off one cold morning by police cars and constables. It was revealed over the next few months that the Krogers were really Russian spies Morris and Lona Cohen, and that their basement on Cranley Drive included a sophisticated radio communications setup with Moscow.

It seemed exciting to a young kid in those dangerous days of Atom spies, the Third Man, Checkpoint Charlie. And I have kept my fascination with moles and sleeper cells ever since.

Image: Negative Space

January 23, 2021

Night Music: If You Leave Me Now

January 22, 2021

In Defence of Garbage

January 21, 2021

In November I wrote about my neighbour who spent a great deal of money protecting his garbage bins.

Apparently, that wasn’t good enough. We have had another crew of workers, including welders, blocking part of the lane for two days to make improvements which must have added greatly to the cost of defending their garbage bins.

They have reinforced the wire mesh and cut another door into the sliding door.

I am amazed at the expense they have gone to. It might be assumed that the gateway protects the building as well as the garbage area; but the wooden fence that covers the balance of the rear is only about five feet tall and even an out-of-shape old fart like me could get over it if I wanted.

I should also mention that the sliding door has been open a lot more than closed since it was installed in November. So I am at a loss to understand the purpose. Oh well.