ImagineCalgary document dissection Pt. 3

For today’s trip into the surreal world of the ImagineCalgary civic plan I am going to have a look into the city of Calgary’s plans to manage our goods and services. This section demonstrates just how intrusive Calgary’s city management wants to get in our lives and businesses.

The first part of the ImagineCalgary goods and services plan delves into food. They really do want to tell us what to eat. That plan inspired the more in-depth;  “CALGARY FOOD SYSTEM ASSESSMENT & ACTION PLAN” which is possibly even more crazy than the ImagineCalgary document itself. I broke down the food plan in all it’s loopy glory in last year. I do recommend reading it and will leave the food section of ImagineCalgary alone in this posting.

Now on to ImagineCalgary’s plan to micromanage our goods and services. In this case they start with fluffy statements and then get more specific into the crazy direct interventions as you read along to the point of proposing free land for select business friends.

System Built environment and infrastructure
Goal
Calgarians access a wide variety of locally produced goods and services and consume these in a responsible manner. We support and consume responsibly produced goods and services from around the world.

OK here is the broad goal. Not only we are to access locally produced goods (I hear those Calgary bananas are terrific), but we are expected to consume these goods in a responsible manner. Does that mean I can’t eat too many of these locally produced bananas lest I get fat? Does this mean I will be monitored to ensure that I compost the peel?

Now I see below that this “We” does indeed support consumption of imported goods (again only if done so in a manner that they deem responsible) as long as these goods and services were produced in a manner that they deep to have been responsible.

This of course is the sort of garbage that inspired the delusional city councilor Brian Pincott to crusade against legal items on menus in Chinese restaurants in Calgary. The ImagineCalgary people and their flakey proponents like Pincott truly do want to tell us what we are allowed to eat or utilize as consumers in general. Courts in Ontario have already proven that this is totally out of the jurisdiction of civic governments. Despite these legal realities, our ideologues on city council want to waste court and legislative time further trying to beat those legal precedents.

As I have said before, if one has the stomach to delve deeply into the ImagineCalgary plan, one can see where much of the city council lunacy stems from.

1 TARGET By 2036, over 50 per cent of Calgary businesses adopt a protocol for sustainable practices and report on it regularly.

The along with the word “vibrant”, the ImagineCalgary crowd loves to beat the hell out of the word “sustainable”. The word appears well over 100 times in their blueprint alone. The reason that word is beloved by the framers of ImagineCalgary is that the definition of the term is vague and can be bent to whatever need they like. Environmentally sustainable? Ethically? Economically? The word is only limited by the user’s imagination.

Now in light of it being so tough to determine what “sustainable” means in this context, it does make it disturbing to imagine half of our city’s businesses being strong-armed into adopting binding protocols on this that as is said above would have to be reported regularly. Reported to who? The sustainability police? What if the business does not meet the definition of sustainability that day? Will there be fines? Revocation of licenses? Sanctions? Finger waggling?

Business people are ambitious and independent minded. I can’t see even 10% willingly binding themselves into something like this. Clearly the ImagineCalgary creators realize a bit of this as this is one of the few goals that they have with less than 90% compliance expectations. All the same, I fear for how these busybodies plan to get half of businesses to get on board with this.

Oh but wait, they of course do give some indication of their strategies:

STRATEGY 1 Develop incentives to support businesses that operate in an environmentally sustainable way.
Support the attraction and retention of sustainable industry. Support the design of eco-efficient industrial and business centres.Enhance e-commerce infrastructure within Calgary.

Now none of the above strategies needs any help from the city. The free market will decide which industries can be sustained here and efficiencies in consumption come rather clearly through supply and demand.

To allow market choice would be to lose control and the ImagineCalgary gang could not abide by such. Real markets likely would not fit within their definition of sustainability thus must be stunted.

Develop incentives? Attract and retain?

Let’s face it folks, the only way governments try to do this is by taxing the hell out of the successful businesses in order to pad and subsidize the economically non-viable ones.

There are few better recipes for market collapse and corruption than the empowerment of government to pick and choose businesses that they will “support” at the expense of others. We can’t let Calgary city hall get any more deeply into this game than it already is.

STRATEGY 2 Develop a sustainable business ethic that Calgary businesses can sign on to.
Promote sustainable business and products (through labeling, associations, etc.).

This kind of gimmick is neat. It is a form of public shaming that local governments can use to push businesses around.

First, bureaucrats at city hall draft a “sustainable business ethic” of their own definition. An business association of sorts is created that of course only allows businesses who have bound themselves into this sustainability definition. The city will use tax dollars to promote and advertise that consumers should try to only go to businesses that display such and such sticker to indicate they are part of this association.

While I am sure the city would never outright tell us not to go to a particular business, they will happily imply that you perhaps are not a good citizen should you take your money to one of those icky businesses that refused to sign on to their protocol and join their new association.

Now we start to see how the ImagineCalgary folks expect to get as many as 50%of businesses to sign on to their “protocol” thus losing choice in operating their own enterprises. Sneaky but effective. Not really a new strategy, think back to the “look for the union label” campaigns only imagine a powerful government doing it.

STRATEGY 3 Ensure Calgary businesses adopt cradle-to-cradle responsibility of products. Ensure businesses think longer-term when selling goods and services.

When they go from “encourage” to “ensure” one rightly hears alarm bells. This is the sort of statement that leads to legislation and penalties.

What is “Cradle-to-Cradle” you say? In short it is a flakey environmentalist ideology that would demand profound market intervention to enforce and would put the cost of consumer goods through the roof. It is an ideological theory that businesses are welcome to willingly embrace but we would be crazy to allow our city busybodies to enforce such practices as they would like to.

STRATEGY 4 Encourage the trade of locally based goods and services.
Ensure businesses think longer-term when selling goods and services

This one starts with “encourage” but ends with “ensure” so again we see the barrel of the government gun-to-the-head peeking out.

In this case “encourage” when it comes to protectionism means tariffs. Of course such things usually only apply to countries. Now we can see part of why Naheed Nenshi and many of his compatriots are so eager to expand the taxation powers of the city. Taxation is not simply a way to raise government funds, it can be and often is used as a punitive form of control over citizens and enterprise.

The ways of “ensuring” along with targeted taxation are limitless and who defines what is thinking in the longer-term? Will this be a license requirement for business? Another mandatory-but-not-mandatory business association?

Alas though, we are still only at the tip of the iceberg with where these people want to go in building their ideological utopia out of Calgary.

TARGET By 2016, Calgary has a strong and diverse portfolio of locally based businesses.

This one has a very short timeline and really is a fluff statement with no measure. Most of the targets in the plan have those ridiculous targeted percentages attached to them. I guess we should be happy that this one lacks this.

The entire goal above can be reached simply through having a good environment in which to do business. That means reasonable (needs reduction) red-tape and regulation. Reasonable local costs for real-estate, taxation etc. and free consumer and business mobility to ensure that services develop to fit the needs.

Sadly, the ImagineCalgary goal is to massively increase market intervention through regulation and raised taxes as well as raising cost of operation due to explosive real-estate prices through mandated density targets. This will only backfire with catastrophic consequences but despite so many world examples of why government needs to stay clear of business the likes of the ImagineCalgary gang plan to push forth and micromanage our lives and endeavors.

Now on to the strategies. It is not an exaggeration to call the strategies below socialism. This is the definition of it, only the degree is in question.

STRATEGY 1 Provide incentives to diversify our economic base.
Provide seed money to help support the establishment of local businesses and industries in strategic sectors.

Explore options for utilizing publicly owned land to help support/incubate locally owned businesses.

Explore the option of using vacant and underutilized buildings as local business incubators.

Support tax incentives for local business.

Create economic development programs to diversify local business.

Well in this one they come right out and say it: “provide seed money” and in “strategic sectors” of course. I imagine organic hemp-shops and bicycle repair shops will be determined as “strategic” thus worthy of being lavished with “seed money” that will be taken from the pockets of the productive through taxation. This is corporate welfare even if the recipients may indeed to be from some smaller businesses. This is direct market intervention and this will fail at monumental cost to us all as it invariably does.

While these folks are in love with the term “sustainability” the concept is completely lost when the word “economic” is placed in front of it. There are reasons why certain businesses do not exist. Usually it is because nobody wants the damn things. Supply and demand have been proven infinitely more effective in determining what businesses we need or do not need than any government ever has. It is ridiculous that our City Hall wants to go down this insane road.

Google MagCan or Novatel Alberta to see to relatively recent and local examples what happens when idiotic bureaucrats determine that they can create local industries with “seed money” from taxpayers.

Of course just giving money to friends and preferred businesses is not enough for these utopian urban-planners. This plan calls for giving land to certain businesses as well. Why dedicate civic land to things like parks and paths when it can be given to vibrant, sustainable, handpicked business ventures with some tax dollars on top?

Oh but as we see, land and money are not enough alone. The plan here also says that buildings that they determine (by what measure) to be underutilized can be given to the business friends they have gathered as well. This does not even specify if these are public-owned properties or not, only that they have determined that these have been underutilized by some unknown measure. What sort of utilization quotas are we speaking of now?

If free money, free land and a free building are not enough for the Chosen Ones to flourish as businesses, we can see that there are plans for “tax incentives” as well. In other words, these businesses that are determined by the tall-foreheads will get tax breaks in order to ensure that they may directly compete and possibly eliminate other businesses that do not offer the practices, goods and services that ImagineCalgary deem to be good for the collective.

STRATEGY 2 Develop information that promotes locally based businesses in Calgary and its region.
Create a directory of locally based businesses.
Create economic development programs to diversify local business.

I guess one should go farther into the ideology of what these people consider “locally based businesses” as are not all businesses in Calgary based locally by their very nature? You see, this is another of those ambiguous terms that can be used when they begin to pick and choose between the businesses that they feel are good for us or bad. WalMart while employing thousands and providing affordable consumer goods for example is bad as they are multinational and sell foreign produced goods. A small shoemaker who considers himself an artist and only uses organic leather from nearby cows that were massaged daily and put to sleep with poems from Calgary’s poet-laureate would be a good local business and must be preserved and promoted at all costs.

Create a directory of locally based businesses? With all of the money and time spent on this documents and these assholes suddenly have decided that they can invent the Yellow Pages???

The framers of ImagineCalgary while being ideological zealots are not complete idiots. They know that countless directories on paper and online list local businesses. What they are getting at is that they will determine their own list of worthy businesses and advertize them in order to create yet another competitive edge for their Chosen Ones.

Money, land, buildings, tax breaks and now free advertising for certain businesses. As one can see, it can pay very well to be connected to the right folks in Calgary City Hall as these plans develop.

STRATEGY 3 Support flexible standards to encourage a wide variety of local businesses. Enable buildings that can adapt to a wide range of business types.
Provide land use districts that facilitate the development of flexible spaces.
Support mixed-usecommunities.

As with many portions of the ImagineCalgary document, this is a bit vague.

Like the sudden discovery of the yellowpages though, it looks like ImagineCalgary has stumbled across the concept of the shopping mall when speaking of buildings that provide a range of business types.

Of course all of these things can and will come into being without the direct manage of City Hall. To allow nature to take it’s course in these matters would be to lose some control. That clashes directly with the goals of ImagineCalgary.

There is so much more to cover in this blueprint of madness. I have hit all I can for today. In finishing on the theme of control though I do want to hit one more target.

TARGET By 2036, all Calgarians consume more responsibly.

It is the short and sweet targets that scare one the most. How will they get us all to consume in what they determine to be a responsible manner? Not just some, but “all”.

Lofty and scarey goals indeed.

Remember, Naheed Nenshi some members of our current council took part in making this document. These people believe in the goals and means within ImagineCalgary and intend to pursue them.

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ImagineCalgary document dissection Pt. 2

All too often we hear from people scratching their heads asking aloud “where do these nuts come up with this stuff?” when speaking of some of the loony initiatives and plans coming from Calgary City Hall. Much of their plan is actually documented in a giant blueprint that was commissioned a few years ago and coined as “ImagineCalgary”. Apparently this abomination of a municipal plan is the fruit of “consultation” with 18,000 Calgarians who answered 5 simple questions. People often disappoint me but I really find it hard to believe that there are that there really are that many people in Calgary who would be crazy enough to express the goals in the ImagineCalgary document.

There really is too much lunacy packed into the document to cover it all in one posting. I began with a post last week simply evaluating the “social” portion of the document.

Members of city council constantly reference this document and references to it are sprinkled all over the City of Calgary website. The fact that the city and some council members take the pap in this initiative seriously is a serious issue in itself. With this being an election year, I strongly suggest asking every candidate for council what they think of ImagineCalgary. Run like hell from any candidate who thinks this plan is a good idea.

The plan in full can be found here. Now on with part 2:

MEANING, PURPOSE AND CONNECTEDNESS

No, the above is not a long typo. This plan feels that our City Hall must address the apparent deficits in meaning, purpose and connectedness among the citizenry. This well hidden catastrophe among Calgarians warrants a category all to itself in ImagineCalgary. Lets see what we have to do to deal with this.

 

1
TARGET By 2036, 90 per cent of citizens agree that “Calgary is a city with soul,” which is defined as citizens having meaning and purpose in life and experiencing ongoing feelings of connectedness with some form of human, historic or natural system.

Wow. That is quite an order. I personally am an agnostic and am not even sure if I have a soul much less if my municipality does. Is this civic soul immortal? Does it need to worship? Hold sacrifices?

What if I don’t like the denomination of my city’s soul? What if it turns out to be a fundamentalist soul that is intolerant of some groups or practices? I am not sure if I can be supportive of such a soul. Would the Human Rights Commission intervene if my city’s soul was of the wrong faith?

We had better make sure we do something about this. I would hate to envision our city’s immortal soul being condemned to hell if we don’t take care of it’s spiritual needs. Lets see what the strategy is on this.

STRATEGY 1 Celebrate local inspirational and spiritual leaders from all faiths, cultures and traditions.

That will be quite a celebration indeed considering the diversity of our city. What kind of celebrations are we talking about? Block parties? Fireworks? Collective pats on the back? As per the usual question, is it our municipal government’s role to celebrate these things?

STRATEGY 2 Provide opportunities for individuals to strengthen their own senses of meaning, purpose and connectedness.
Ensure diverse forms of public expression and discussion are readily accessible.

How will these opportunities be provided? City built churches? Meditation gardens? Will we recruit motivational speakers to come and try and instill a sense of purpose among us all?

I never really noticed that we lacked these opportunities but then as one who likely has no soul I guess this should not really be a surprise.

TARGET By 2036, 100 per cent of Calgarians report that they feel respected and supported in their pursuits of meaning, purpose and connectedness, and that they extend respect and support to others who meet this need in ways different from their own

100% reporting that? Come on. I bet you would be lucky to find that even 80% of Calgarians could read that entire statement of idiocy without breaking out laughing.

It is nice to know I can still be surprised no matter how cynical I get. I really still am shocked that we paid people to come up with this crap.

The strategies are no less crazy than the goal of course.

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report respect and support levels related to the diverse ways that people meet their needs for meaning, purpose and connectedness.
Establish a “state of our people” report that reports measured respect and support levels related to meaning, purpose and connectedness and the ways that citizens care for one another.

These strategies invariably call for developing measures to report things on Calgarians. Indeed we may eventually employ the entire city as pollsters as we all try to measure each other’s outlooks.

As the goal is not 80%, not 90% and not even 99.99999% it will indeed take a great deal of measurement to ensure that not a single Calgarian feels unsupported in their pursuit of “connectedness”.

This “state of the people” report will apparently report measured levels of respect. Just how the hell do you measure respect? I will save you guys one number to dial in your polling. I have utterly no respect for the taxfunded idiots who came up with this crap and will continue to hold them in utter contempt no matter how many times my respect levels are measured.

STRATEGY 2 Ensure citizens build empathy, acceptance, respect and interdependent thinking skills to foster respect and support for others.
Develop and implement educational programs and informal learning opportunities that focus on building these skills

Uh Oh. They plan to ensure that we build respect. Will my repeated reports of contempt rather than respect bring about the city’s newly found “respect police” or something?

Building empathy. Very nice. How is that measured though? How much empathy and for who?

People who use the term social engineering are often dismissed. What else could these goals be called?

STRATEGY 3 Promote the unique cultural attributes of Calgary citizens.
Create community-wide opportunities to celebrate our diverse city.

Not much to this one. Continued festivals and cultural celebrations. OK.

STRATEGY 4 Create opportunities for dialogue between different religions, faith traditions and cultures.
Establish open forums, cultural celebrations and policy/program discussions that encourage this kind of conversation

Ooh the city will take on establishing forums and policy discussions between different faith. Gee can’t see any issues with this.

I really look forward to putting on a flak jacket and attending the first open policy discussion to be held between Hasidic Jews and fundamentalist Islamic community members.

Looks like the City of Calgary is ready to take on the faith divisions that have been at issue around the entire world for the last couple millennia. This should make the squabbles between soccer moms look tame.

Well, that is about all of the ImagineCalgary goals that I can stomach for Part 2. Once settled I will work on some of the brilliant economic ideas in ImagineCalgary for Part 3. It is a profound example of vapid market intervention.

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Tell me where to go!

I know, people usually don’t need an invitation to tell me where to go and usually do so without hesitation.

In this case I am asking folks to direct me to where these apparent 12,000 daily bicycle trips in in Calgary’s downtown are happening. That 12,000 number has been used over and over and indeed it is referenced on the City of Calgary’s own site.

I simply have not been able to believe that number is even close to accurate so I have been going out and measuring bike traffic on city bike lanes during what should be peak times for bicycle traffic heading downtown. The maximum I have been able to find has been 52 bikes in a peak hour on the 10 ST NW lane. On some bike lanes I have been lucky to find even a handful of bicycles.

Now I know I have been rather stuck on this but it is important. Busy automotive lanes are being closed throughout Calgary in order to make lanes for bicycles that frankly just don’t seem to exist. Our city has limited infrastructure dollars as it is and we can’t be pissing money down the drain on infrastructure that is based on an ideological need rather than actual citizen need or use.

Now the folks in the fanatical bike lobby in Calgary have been getting rather grumpy with me. Some of the comments on my posts have tried to claim that I am picking less than ideal times to measure or that my snapshots are too limited. When I ask where I can go to find a count that would reflect this apparent 12,000 daily bike rides downtown I tend to get greeted with silence or insults.

One exchange was rather funny. I had done my second count on the 11 St SE bike lane which appears to be the least utilized in all of Calgary. On one day I counted 2 bikes and on another day I couldn’t even find a single bike during rush hour. When commenting on this on twitter, I got this response from one of the prime bike fanatic accounts in Calgary:

 

It was nice to see a bike proponent acknowledge that the 11 St SE bike lane indeed was not a busy bike spot. When I responded and asked why we even have a bike lane there at all since it isn’t in use, he disappeared without response of course. This only re-enforces my case that the whole thing with most of our bike lanes in Calgary is not based on need or usage at all, it is all about an anti-car ideology. Two automotive lanes were removed on 11 St SE in order to put in these utterly useless bike lanes yet the bike lobbyists refuse to let it go. That sort of says it all.

Now back to my initial point. I am inviting bike enthusiasts or pretty much anybody else to direct me to the location and time where I can find evidence that 12,000 bicycle trips are indeed happening daily in downtown Calgary. Calgary’s downtown really only has so many ways in and out of it. It should not be hard at all to direct me to a spot where I can count at least a couple thousand bicycles during the morning rush. It would still only be a fraction of the daily use.

I have demonstrated repeatedly that I am willing and able to set up and accurately count bicycle users on bike lanes. Now, do what should come easily and tell me where to go.

I look forward to finally finding this elusive hoard of bicycle commuters into downtown Calgary and reporting it here. 🙂

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Want to conserve a resource? Make it a commodity!

An unfortunate reality is that the more critical a resource is to the population at large is, the more likely and effective efforts will be to put the management of the resource fully and directly into the hands of governments. I say this is unfortunate as when a resource is collectivized; a sense of consumer entitlement arises leading to even more consumption and more irresponsible management of the resource.

Few resources demonstrate the above principle more clearly than fresh water. Based on the simple reality that fresh water is indeed essential in life, advocates for intrusive government expand from there in demanding that water never be traded or used as a commodity in a private manner. What is overlooked whether purposely or not is that water already is a tradable commodity and it must be in order for modern society to function. Industry and agriculture have been purchasing water since the invention of canals.

Despite the hysterics of groups such as the Council of Canadians, nobody is really coming to steal or buy all of Canada’s fresh water. Our supply of fresh water as a nation is quite safe. Treated water for household use and consumption however is indeed a resource that is expensive to produce and hard to keep up with citizen’s demands for it.

Last Saturday evening was dedicated as the time for people to observe “earth hour” as designated by the international lobby corporation known as the World Wildlife Fund. Despite ads, gimmicks and general lobbying, Calgary happily ignored the hype and I am proud to report that we as a city showed utterly no change in our energy use as during this hour of greenwashing. The usual suspects in the environmentalist world are of course decrying us as rednecks and enemies of the earth for ignoring their foolish little exercise.

Assuming that Calgarians are indeed the heartless, environment-destroying, capitalist bastards that some in other regions like to try and paint us, how on earth did we manage to be the city with the lowest per-capita water consumption numbers in the country?

What inspired so many Calgarians to install low-flow toilets, track down leaking pipes, use rain-barrels and reduce the amount of treated water that we pour on to our lawns? Was it successful lobbying by Greenpeace and the like with their door-to-door work and flyer drops? Was it ads in the paper wagging collective fingers at us for overconsumption? Was it an earth-shattering speech from a civic leader? None of the above apply of course. The key element in the reduction of Calgary’s domestic water use has been household water metering!

I know that we like to envision society as being altruistic to the point that they will embrace every conservation initiative that is fed to them but in reality it is only self-interest that moves people en masse to change anything. Through making water a measurable commodity that people pay for based on individual use Calgary succeeded where decades of socialized water distribution failed. By simply being charged by the liter and being able to see a measure of household use, citizens were suddenly inspired to seek effective ways to reduce their consumption.

Hipsters do love their irony so they should appreciate the figure below from Statistics Canada.

Chart 4 Households in single-detatched dwellings more likely to use water-saving fixtures

wateruse

While the majority of our urban density zealots who preach of the wasteful lifestyles of suburbs live in dense neighborhoods (and their parent’s basements in the suburbs), it appears that they have some issues in practicing what they preach. Why is it that the areas most densely packed with environmental idealists are not embracing water consumption reduction initiatives nearly as much as those evil bourgeoisie devils in single detached homes?

The answer is pretty simple; in apartments and other multi-unit dwellings utilities and resources such as water are much more likely to be collectivized. Renters abound and utilities are often bundled in with their rent. Despite high-idealism, direct incentive to reduce consumption is not seen  so consumption simply isn’t reduced. Like most socialists, it is expected that somebody else has to do it but the demands on everybody else are to be shrill, sanctimonious and as can be seen, often hypocritical.

The principle of making a resource a commodity in order to control consumption works pretty much anywhere. Environmentalists love to screech indignantly at the practices of logging companies. One would assume that crown land under the tight scrutiny and control of government would be where best practices would occur then no?

In reality, private woodlots are far more efficiently managed than crown lands. While only 11% of Canada’s woodlots are privately owned, 19% of our timber products come from them. Private woodlots are carefully managed for erosion control, esthetics and of course productivity. Sustainability and replanting are critical simply due to the element of self-interest in maintaining a healthy, balanced forest. That is not to say that no sustainable practices are done on public lands, this is just pointing out that private practices prove to be superior to public management.

If public ownership of resources were the key to wise environmental practices and sustainable growth, China would be leading the world in clean industry.

If public ownership of critical resources led to more efficient production and a sustainable cost of living, Soviet Russia would have had the most stable food supply on the planet. Google bread-lines or starvation in Ukraine to see what happens when government is given the management of a resource simply on the premise that because it is critical that it should not be left in private hands. Food is a need. Despite that, government management of food has always proven to be a failure with extremely dire consequences.

We need to keep these principles in mind when looking at other resources too. Where are our largest areas of public expenditure? Where are these expenditures growing the fastest?

Healthcare and education prove to be the most important issues to voters and both are proving to be unsustainable to the public purse. Because of massive government subsidization and control, a sense of entitlement has caused an unsustainable trend in demand and direct management of these resources. Nations are going bankrupt around the planet due to entitlements and as we see all levels of government in North America spending far more than they bring in it is clear that we are heading towards a crash as well.

Water and food are needs and we have found that treating them as commodities has been the best way to ensure that these needs are sustainably managed for all. Healthcare and Education are needs as well yet we refuse to recognize them as commodities due to flawed and outdated ideologies.

It should not be an entitlement to go to an emergency room without direct personal cost every time your child has the sniffles nor does every child need post-secondary education. Treating healthcare and education as commodities would mean directing resources towards real need rather than entitled wants. This is not to say that we need to move to a fully private model for either of these areas by any means. What this means is that we have to change how we look at these resources in a new way if we really actually want to conserve them in the most responsible manner.

Whether we like it or not, government resources are finite. We simply can’t fund everything to keep up with every entitled demand by interest groups. We have to look at supply realistically before trying to fill every demand.

I know people fear private provision of services. If we continue to live beyond our collective means as we are now though, the dog-eat-dog system that will come post-crash will make controls that we could make now appear to be a cake-walk. Have a look at Spain, Greece or Russia for examples.

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Another bike count.

In my ongoing quest to find the apparent 12,000 daily downtown Calgary bicycle commuters, I have been setting up and counting cyclists using bike lanes at what should be peak usage times as documented here and here. Most of my point is that I feel that the utilization of and demand for has been grossly exaggerated by City Hall and bicycle proponents and so far my measures have proven my instinct to be quite correct.

Yesterday I chose to measure bicycle usage on the 53 St. NW bike lane in the Varsity area of Calgary as folks from the bike lobby have been bitching and whining up a storm about how despite the street being designated as priority one for plowing because of the bike lane, that it still is not being plowed quickly enough for their liking.

Oh the complaining is nigh totally insufferable as can be seen in their blog here. Read as they collectively organize to try and swamp Calgary’s 311 system with complaints due to there being snow on their precious lane. The entitlement is striking but not unexpected from them.

To hear these bicycle fanatics complain one envisions thousands if not at least hundreds of cyclists battling giant snow drifts while trying to commute to work. The need and demand on this 53 St bike lane must indeed be tremendous in order to rob residents of street parking and to make it a priority one plowing location to accommodate all these bicyclists all winter.

Rather than sip coffee at home in the morning I ventured forth with my little counter to see just how many cyclists must be crowded on this critical commuting artery.

Due to a bike fanatic commenting and wrongly claiming that I measure on “the coldest days of the year” I am including all details of the count here.

It was Friday morning March 23 between 7:00am and 8:00 am on the 52 St NW bike lane. There was no snow on the street, the sky was clear, wind was calm and the temperature was -7. Bear in mind these are apparent winter commuters complaining so these conditions should be ideal for bicycle commuting.

The count and grand total are pictured below:

IMG089

 

Yup, with such ideal conditions a whole sixteen bicyclists used the lane during the busiest hour of the day. I can’t imagine that the number rises on days when it is snowing even if plows would move quickly enough for these little darlings.

I then moved on to the 11 St SE bike lanes which came at a cost of two automotive lanes and gave it a 1/2 hour count. During that period I counted zero bikes. There really is utterly no reason at all to have those bike lanes in existence.

Believe it or not, I am supportive of bicycle infrastructure that compliments automotive traffic and provides real commuting alternatives. Bike paths are excellent and I have no issues with improving those. The problem we have though with the bicycle lobby is that these people are not pro-bicycle so much as they are anti-automobile!

Why else would the cycle lobby so strongly battle for the closure of auto lanes when clearly there is no actual need or bicycle demand for that expensive paved infrastructure? Should not people who truly care about bicycle use in Calgary focus where their demand and needs are strongest? Why not fight for expansion of bike paths where hundreds of bicycles travel daily and often have close calls with pedestrians? Those paths are truly alternative transportation.

With bike lanes taking up existing automotive lanes, traffic and congestion only increases as people simply are not giving up their cars in favor of bikes. Even by the City’s own stats the percentage of people riding bikes to work has remained flat for 20 years despite so much effort. If a person really wants to reduce idling and emissions, they should be encouraging automotive traffic flow rather than trying to choke it with bike lanes that nearly nobody uses.

Do we really believe that if we strangle automotive traffic enough that upper middle aged suburban commuters will suddenly get on bikes for a couple hours a day five days per week in a city with temperatures that range from -30c to +30c? Get real people. It simply will never happen.

Max (a regular reader of this blog) sent me a couple great pics from Japan where they are working realistically and pragmatically to have complimentary alternative infrastructure.

ngbike

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It is recognized in Japan that there is an advantage to having more people commute by bicycle but they are working on a basis of realism rather than an anti-automotive idealism. Sidewalks are widened slightly for bike traffic rather than cutting into automotive lanes while markings and regulations are focused on keeping traffic of all types moving smoothly rather than adding one type at the expense of another.

If we truly want to build infrastructure that will enable more utilization of alternative transportation, we first will have to sideline the anti-automotive elements of the bike lobby and their supporters within Calgary City Hall. Then we may be able to really examine and see how we can have a mixed use type of infrastructure for Calgary commuting.

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Good intent is nice but we have to look at outcomes.

One thing we love to do collectively as Canadians is to bury our heads in the sand when we don’t like the realities of issues and policies around us. We implement simplistic feel-good policies that may have the best of intentions and viciously protect these policies from all attempts by people who may want to inject a dose of reality into them. If somebody dares to question these flakey policies, inevitably they will be accused of supporting whatever ill these policies were created to ease.

I will start by laying out the vapid and inevitable response I will get for touching on the issue of native incarceration rates:

Oh so you are OK with the gross over representation of natives in our prisons!

There. Now I will begin by responding that I am indeed not at all happy with the disproportionate number of natives incarcerated in Canada. What I am even more unhappy about is our continued support of countless initiatives in alternative sentencing based on race when they are so clearly a catastrophic failure.

Since the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples wrapped up nearly 20 years ago, our justice system has been scrambling to find ways to reduce the aboriginal incarceration rate in Canada. All sorts of resources and time have been directed towards training judges and instructing them directly to take “indianess”: into account when sentencing. “Sentencing circles” have been created for natives to try and avoid conventional courts. Countless healing lodges have been opened and maintained throughout Canada.

“Gladue” reports are brought into court to try to find every possible way to avoid sentencing natives to jail.

Despite all of these efforts to avoid sentencing natives to jail; Aboriginal incarceration rates have doubled in the last 20 years! While natives make up about 4% of Canada’s population, they currently make up over 23% of our prison population.

The image below from Statistics Canada rather starkly lays out just how badly all of these initiatives are failing. How colossal must a legislative failure get before we re-examine the base principles of the legislation?

abincarc

 

Yes, we must examine and address the issue of aboriginal incarceration in Canada. I think we can pretty clearly conclude at this point though that the issue is not in our courts or sentencing. To reach that conclusion though a person does have to set aside the intent of those policies and look objectively at how they are doing.

Race based policy is what led to the separated, miserable and dysfunctional native cultures in Canada. Despite that hard reality, people still insist on trying to fix this problem with even more race based policy. As has been covered here before: the reserve system is a failure by every possible measure! Crime is certainly no exception among these measures.

The reason that such a higher number of natives end up in our prisons is not that our courts are sentencing natives incorrectly, it is that natives are committing a disproportionately higher number of crimes in Canada. That is an ugly reality to face but it has to be done if we ever hope to solve some of these issues.

We must look deeper than our court system. When a native finds him/herself before a judge, the damage has already been done. What we need to look at is what drives such a high number of natives to crime. When we look at things that way, things get more simple yet complex at the same time.

The cause of the problem is actually very simple. Canada has a system of entrenched racial apartheid in reserves that is fostered and served by the racist Indian Act. As long as we keep people separated physically and legislatively from the rest of the world based on race, we will have the culture of misery and dependency that we see now. Crime is simply one of the many issues erupting from this sick system.

The solution is more complex. The reserve system and the Indian Act must both be abolished. To get there we need more people to pay attention to the devastation that our system of apartheid is creating and we need people prepared to battle the entrenched parasites in the Indian Industry who will fight tooth and nail to protect their self-interest in the system. The Indian Industry is loaded with high-level bureaucrats, scads of lawyers and countless “consultants” who bleed millions and millions from the entire native system. These people will not let their lucrative schemes built on the backs of natives go easily. Cries of racism, lawsuits and idiotic “scholarly” papers will be released in hopes of maintaining this status quo of native misery. It will take some tough legislators to face that down but it must happen eventually.

We need to look at all of our laws and systems with a critical eye. Set aside the intent that built these institutions and ask yourself: “is this working?”. When it comes to native affairs, most often the answer is a resounding “no”. Once we stop with the clearly proven failures in policy, we may have a chance to work towards some policy that actually works.

Good intent is nice but it really doesn’t get us anywhere on it’s own.

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ImagineCalgary; a blueprint for big government madness. Pt. 1

In 2005 it was determined by the municipal powers that be in Calgary that we apparently had way too much time and general resources as a city and had to piss much of it away in what was one of the world’s largest of municipally funded navel gazing exercises which they coined: ImagineCalgary.

Apparently 18,000 Calgarians were asked the five simple questions below:

What do you value about Calgary?
What is it like for you to live here?
What changes would you most like to see?
What are your hopes and dreams for the next 100 years?
How can you help make this happen?

Groups were formed that included the likes of Naheed Nenshi, Brian Pincott and Druh Farrell who interpreted the answers to these questions and created the almost surreal 211 page document called the: imagineCALGARY Plan for Long Range Urban Sustainability.

This document is so packed full of pie-in-the-sky pap, calls for insane goals and massive government intervention that one would think this is some sort of satirical parody rather than a serious (and bloody expensive) municipal planning blueprint. While the ImagineCalgary website is packed full of platitudes, it is near impossible to find a copy of the document itself. I suspect that even they realize that if Calgarians actually take the time to read the idiocy within it that they will reject it universally. I have kindly loaded the entire document on my site where people can access it in perpetuity through the link in the paragraph above this one.

Below I will be going through the notions in this document piece by piece.  The ideas within do indeed prove that fact is indeed often stranger than fiction. I really don’t think I could make up stuff as loony as what has been packed into the ImagineCalgary manifesto. This is indeed going to be a long posting.

Now dear reader, before we get into this dissection I am sure that many are thinking: “So what? The city wastes money on stupid studies all the time. This one is eight years old and the money is gone. Note it and get over it!”.

I do wish this was something that was just a passing notion that we could forget about but unfortunately Calgary City Hall under Nenshi’s guidance is using the ImagineCalgary document as their main planning plank. The density obsessed “Plan It Calgary” states right on it’s main City of Calgary page that it is modeled directly from the ImagineCalgary lunacy. Our city planners and managers are actually trying to put this insane document and it’s recommendations into action.

At the City of Calgary’s “Office of Sustainability” (yes there actually is one) site, ImagineCalgary is highlighted along with the crazy local food policy that it inspired which I covered at length in a past blog posting.

So yes folks, what I will be looking at below is not something from tinfoil hat country or anything that I made up. These are real items from the long-term plan for Calgary City Hall under Naheed Nenshi’s leadership.

I will begin with the goals laid out under “Social” in the document today. It is going to take a series to cover all of what is packed into ImagineCalgarys’s goals and strategies. This part of the document is among the most lucid so I may as well begin here.

TARGET By 2036, 90 per cent of citizens report that Calgary is a beautiful city.

Isn’t that statement cute? Doesn’t that just feel nice? Now of course, there are few areas more subjective than that of judging what is esthetically pleasing. How exactly these folks plan to get 9 out of 10 Calgarians to agree on what is beautiful is not very well laid out but it sure is a pretty goal and well worth spending a fortune trying to reach is it not? Strategies are laid out for this of course.

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report Calgarians’ opinions regarding the beauty of the city.

Ahh good. Measuring opinions of beauty is priority one indeed! I expect we shall be opening an office of “Measuring Calgarian beauty opinion” in city hall right away along with the associated supports and bureaucracy.

STRATEGY 2 Establish design performance standards for new residential, commercial and industrial construction to ensure beauty is considered in all new development

Of course we can’t let those unwashed Calgarians determining all by themselves what they feel is beautiful! We must enforce through legislation as the above quote from the plan states! An office of “Establishing and enforcing construction beauty standards” should be opened in city hall along with associated supports and bureaucracy as well as a field measuring and enforcement arm!

What better way to get all those Liberal Arts graduates who are currently making coffee into more lucrative employment than to create a department of City Beauty Police?

STRATEGY 3 Create and protect beautiful public spaces to provide more opportunities for aesthetic enjoyment.

Ahh but of course. We can’t simply rely on home and business owners to make things beautiful no matter how hard the Beauty Police come down on them. We must purchase, create and protect even more beautiful things and places in the city. We can always borrow funds and/or raise taxes again to cover all that.

STRATEGY 4 Foster an understanding of and appreciation for the aesthetic value of our built environment so that citizens, developers and others can enhance our physical resources.

Huxley would be proud of the newspeak used in the strategy above. We can’t assume that these unwashed taxpaying citizens will really understand or appreciate all these beautiful things that are being built for them. We must “foster” these sorts of things. Perhaps mandatory courses in aesthetic value should be held. Maybe these courses will only be required if the Beauty Police find citizens who do not perform the appropriate “oohs and ahhhs” at the city’s great beauty initiatives. Either way, we clearly can’t let people simply decide for themselves what may or may not look good!

STRATEGY 5 Create and protect developed and uncultivated natural areas to ensure we can enjoy these areas now and in the future.

Yards and gardens bad! Natural areas good!

There is something of a clash here with density goals too but that can be ironed out later. I am not sure if these folks have heard of Nose Hill and Fish Creek parks yet.

Time for a new target:

TARGET By 2036, 95 per cent of Calgarians report that they have a range of opportunities for the aesthetic enjoyment of nature, arts and culture.

I can’t think of a day that goes by when I don’t see a Calgarian seated on a curb weeping openly due to the deficit in aesthetic enjoyment opportunities in their lives. This travesty indeed must be addressed!

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report Calgarians’ opinions regarding the range of opportunities available for aesthetic enjoyment.

Step one: open office of “measuring Calgarian satisfaction with aesthetic enjoyment opportunities”.

I see now that Calgary City Hall will have to build a new office tower to house all these new departments. I hope their design passes the muster of the Beauty Police.

STRATEGY 2 Increase public support for the arts to develop additional ways for citizens to enjoy natural and created aesthetics.

Money! Money! Money!

We can’t hire every Liberal Arts grad in the Beauty Police department. With spending of more money though, we can contract the rest to decorate the city further.

STRATEGY 3 Undertake cultural impact assessments for all public or private initiatives, so we can properly consider and enhance the cultural life of our city.

Oh good! Let’s not just let any initiative happen whether private or not! We must assess how that will impact culture! I expect we will spend many millions defining what our culture is and how we intend to enhance and consider it. In the meantime, I guess we will just sort of cook these assessments.

It certainly calls for an entire new “office of cultural assessments” along with the associated bureaucracy.

TARGET By 2016, 90 per cent of Calgarians report that they have opportunities to express their unique gifts and talents

They certainly set the bar high. I am more curious about how many Calgarians actually feel that their unique gifts and talents are actually being hindered. Let’s see how our city plans to get us all to that nice 90% zone.

STRATeGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report Calgarians’ opinions of the availability of opportunities for creative self-expression.

Ahh yes. Why did I even wonder? What we need first is to form a department of measuring “availability of opportunities for creative self-expression” along with the associated bureaucracy.

STRATEGY 2 Ensure Calgarians have the support systems necessary to foster artistic excellence and innovation as expressions of their gifts and talents.

This looks like a nice expensive and rather wide open strategy. What does it mean? Art schools on every corner? Free galleries? Subsidized advertising? Free paint? Who qualifies? How? How many?

Yes, this is a formula for a tax-dollar sinkhole.

STRATEGY 3 Identify ways for the full range of stakeholders to co-operate and create connections to realize the full potential of the arts.

The above is pretty much fluff but I imagine money can and will be spent identifying these required “ways”.

STRATEGY 4 Ensure the Alberta Government continues to recognize and strengthen its level of financial commitment to arts and culture in Calgary.

This strategy is easy to figure out and not now. Beg for more money from other levels of government. Nenshi is already demonstrating a strong talent in this.

STRATEGY 5 Boost the strategic roles of the cultural industries and local media for their contributions to local identity, creative continuity and job creation.

What exactly is a “cultural industry” and how and why do we need to “boost their strategic roles”? I am not sure if I want to hear the answer.

How about the apparent “boosts” to media when it comes to their apparent and possible contributions to local identity? How so? Do Calgarians not have an identity? Is it the media’s role to create and maintain this identity? Is this identity defined and is a goal to be reached?

STRATEGY 6 Provide accessible informal and professional arts educational programs to Calgarians of all ages and abilities.

Yes, in this target the best and most expensive strategy was saved for last. We as taxpayers are to be obligated to provide both informal and professional arts educational programs to people of all ages and abilities. I do love that they include “abilities” in there. It means we should have to pay for shitty artists to be taught along with talented ones. 🙂

Yes folks, ImagineCalgary expects the Calgary taxpayers to create an indiscriminate arts Mecca here in Alberta. Police and fire services can wait.

TARGET By 2021, 90 per cent of Calgarians report that Calgary is a city that promotes creative freedom.

While I haven’t seen evidence that creative freedom is being stifled in Calgary, it apparently is a critical goal to ensure that we promote creative freedom even further somehow. How so though?

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report Calgarians’ opinions of how well we promote creative freedom in our city.

Boy I sure didn’t see that strategy coming. Create an office of “Measuring Calgarian’s opinions of how well we are promoting creative freedom” along with the associated supports and bureaucracy.

STRATEGY 2 Ensure the arts and culture sector plays a leadership role in Calgary’s future, so we can build creative freedom into the most influential levels of decision-making processes.

OK this one is getting interesting. I would say considering how much artistic pap has been included in this ImagineCalgary plan that the arts and culture sector is already leading too damn much. How much more is required?

“Build creative freedom into the most influential levels”? How influential? How built?

Are we talking artist quotas at senior management levels? Seats preserved on city council exclusively for folks from this apparent arts and culture sector?

Will these artists have veto power on every project? What will their budget be?

STRATEGY 3 Promote the development and continuity of the cultures of First Nations, Metis and other indigenous people, as they are the bearers of the historic and interactive relationships with our land.

Ahh yes because native culture is not promoted and funded enough by every other level of government. Why do once what can be done over and over again? This is a municipal priority? I think not.

STRATeGY 4 Ensure newcomers from other regions and countries can access, participate in and express themselves through the evolving culture of Calgary, ensuring the richness of our creative freedom is continuously strengthened.

They already can.

STRATeGY 5 Review, revise and develop policies and practices that foster creative freedom, rather than censorship.

Would love to see some examples of this apparent censorship. Hate to think how much will be spent trying to find it though.

TARGET By 2026, 90 per cent of Calgarians report that participation in creative activities is an important part of their lives.

Now we are getting to the real attitudes here. The Nenshi gang loves to be dismissive when people use the term “social engineering” but what else can you call the above city target?

Here we have a city document setting out a goal that 9 out of 10 Calgarians must consider creative activities (to be determined by city bureaucrats) as being an important part of their lives.

Piss off! I don’t have to consider those things important nor does anybody else. It sure as hell isn’t the cities role to make me prioritize what I feel to be an important part of my life.

How are we to get there? Let me guess:

STRATEGY 1 Develop and use measures to regularly report citizens’ opinions of the importance of and levels of participation in creative activities.

……along with associated bureaucracy.

STRATEGY 2 Create public opportunities for all Calgarians to recognize the intrinsic value of arts and culture as an important element of our vibrant city.

I have to admit I am surprised that I got this far before encountering the term “vibrant”.

Public opportunities to recognize this eh? We already have those so it must be assumed that we are expected to go further. Mandatory presentation at workplaces? Street displays during rush hour? Ads on TV during the Stanley Cup playoffs?

What if some of us refuse to recognize these things as being intrinsically valuable to us or important? Are we allowed?

STRATEGY 3 Ease or eliminate restrictions on the forms of creative expression that can occur in public spaces, so citizens can participate in and appreciate a wider range of formal and informal creative activities.
Consider abandoning or easing busking bylaws for musicians and artists.
Identify ways to lessen the impacts of liability insurance requirements.
Assess the types of signage regulations that affect the development of murals and other informal expressions of visual art.

OK where to begin.

Not all of us want to listen to some untalented nut playing bongos or be followed by a mime begging for quarters while we eat our lunch outside. We may not even want to listen to the artists with real talents at all times. We have appropriate areas and times for these means of expressing and generating income. Busking need not be banned but yes it damn well needs a degree of regulation in crowded urban environments.

“Lessen impacts of liability insurance requirements”????? Now you nuts are starting to scare me. The only way to lessen those impacts would be to have somebody else assume liability for the actions of street performers. That somebody would be the city and that means me! There is a reason for these requirements. I do not expect nor deserve to be on the hook as a taxpayer when some mentally unstable performance artist hits a passerby with body fluids!

Now on one hand the city wants beauty police and on the other they want to reduce laws so that we can see an expansion of graffiti throughout the city. That idiotic experiment already failed dismally with a city park and would continue to do so elsewhere. Some call them “graffiti” artists and most call them vandals. This strategy is nothing but newspeak for decriminalizing graffiti and seeing even more ugly spraypaint visually polluting our environment. It will take a lot of work for the Beauty Engineers to get 90% of us to say that graffiti is making our city look better I assure you.

STRATEGY 4 Promote creative expression in public spaces to make Calgarians more aware of, and allow them to participate in, a wider range of cultures and creative experiences

Just more words saying more buskers and graffiti.

STRATEGY 5 Build the leadership and facilitation skills of cultural leaders, so they promote the kinds of events that directly engage people in creative experiences.

OK I guess first we will need to find these cultural leaders. Which cultures? How will we build these skills? Free courses? Books? Seminars?

Why is any of this a city responsibility?

STRATEGY 6 Attract and support new talent and creative leadership in the community, including support for and the promotion of local artists from diverse communities.

Attract new creative leadership? What about all those creative leaders that we are already grooming and facilitating in Strategy 5 above? How many creative leaders can we maintain? What if we have creative leaders clashing? Creative turf wars? General chaos!!

Really though, what are we speaking of here? Classified ads in other cities? Craig’s list?

The word “support” is used multiple times. That is an easy translation of course: lavish with tax dollars!

STRATEGY 7 Ensure Calgary artists are recognized for their excellence, to honour the important roles they play in encouraging other citizens’ to participate in and value creative self-expression.

OK we don’t really need this but it will be cheap and easy enough to do. Issue a ribbon for participation for every artist in Calgary and be done with it.

Well that is a breakdown simply on the “Social” portion of the ImagineCalgary plan that is the model for almost all current city initiatives. Believe it or not, the above goals and strategies are among some of the more rational in the ImagineCalgary plan.

In days to come I will break down: Conflict resolution (some beauties in there), Equity, Transportation, Environment, Equity, Employment, Waste Management, Economic, Access, Governance, Health and Infrastructure from within the document.

This will be a long and cynical road but in going through ImagineCalgary one at least can see where the City of Calgary’s government inspiration and plan is coming from even if it is unattainable and irrational.

If Calgary really keeps trying to follow through with ImagineCalgary’s plans, we will make Stockton California look like a paradise within a couple decades.

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Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien had the right idea.

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It is a rare occasion when I agree with Trudeau or Chretien’s ideas on much of anything but way back in 1969 they addressed one of Canada’s most pressing issues in drafting a policy document called the “White Paper”. Unfortunately the lawyers, activists and other assorted parasites within the growing “Indian Industry” had already been entrenching themselves well and managed to exert enough pressure to get the Trudeau government to back off on a policy direction that would have worked towards bringing hundreds of thousands of people out of the misery of poverty, crime, health issues and general social dysfunction living racially segregated under Canada’s racist Indian Act.

Many activists within the Indian Industry speak against the Indian Act and demand that we adhere to treaties and the obligations within them. These same activists go utterly haywire when somebody actually proposes the abolition of the wretched Indian Act or points out that Canada already goes well and beyond the obligations laid out in treaties. The bottom line is that there is a large and well organized element of parasitic people who thrive on the horrific status quo of native affairs in Canada and these people fervently and effectively fight every possible effort to end their existence based on the misery of countless natives living in the horrific racially segregated enclaves that we call Indian reserves.

The Statement of the Government on Indian Policy is a relatively short (24 pages) document and is concise on the goals for changes to native policy and the means to reach those goals. I strongly recommend that this document be read from end to end.

I will highlight some parts from the document below. In the past and currently supporters of the status quo of native misery have predictably dismissed the document as racist and having no goal aside from assimilation. That as usual is utter garbage but the hot-words of racism never fail to quell rationed policy debate thus the shallow self-serving supporters of the Indian Industry never fail to claim racism whenever something may threaten their income from the system. The irony of it all is that the White Paper was explicitly working towards ending policies of racism in Canada.

Below is the preamble from the paper which gets to the gist of things:

 

Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy, 1969
Presented to the First Session of the Twenty-eighth Parliament by the Honourable Jean Chrétien, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

 

To be an Indian is to be a man, with all a man’s needs and abilities. To be an Indian is also to be different. It is to speak different languages, draw different pictures, tell different tales and to rely on a set of values developed in a different world.

 

Canada is richer for its Indian component, although there have been times when diversity seemed of little value to many Canadians.

 

But to be a Canadian Indian today is to be someone different in another way. It is to be someone apart – apart in law, apart in the provision of government services and, too often, part in social contacts.

 

To be an Indian is to lack power – the power to act as owner of your lands, the power to spend your own money and, too often, the power to change your own condition.

 

Not always, but too often, to be an Indian is to be without – without a job, a good house, or running water; without knowledge, training or technical skill and, above all, without those feelings of dignity and self-confidence that a man must have if he is to walk with his head held high.

 

All these conditions of the Indians are the product of history and have nothing to do with their abilities and capacities. Indian relations with other Canadians began with special treatment by government and society, and special treatment has been the rule since Europeans first settled in Canada. Special treatment has made of the Indians a community disadvantaged and apart.

 

Obviously, the course of history must be changed. To be an Indian must be to be free – free to develop Indian cultures in an environment of legal, social and economic equality with other Canadians.

What is most striking is how even 40 years later, the statement above is just as valid as it was then. Today problems are much larger and more acute on native reserves though and until we change things they will only get worse.

Below are the policy recommendations of the paper. Native life would be so much different (and far better) had the Canadian government of the day stuck to it’s guns and implemented these policies.

 

1. that the legislative and constitutional bases of discrimination be removed;

 

2 that there be positive recognition by everyone of the unique contribution of Indian culture to Canadian life;

 

3. that services come through the same channels and from the same government agencies for all Canadians; 4 that those who are furthest behind be helped most;

 

5. that lawful obligations be recognized;

 

6 that control of Indian lands be transferred to the Indian people.

 

The Government would be prepared to take the following steps to create this framework:

 

1. Propose to Parliament that the Indian Act be repealed and take such legislative steps as may be necessary to enable Indians to control Indian lands and to acquire title to them.

2. Propose to the governments of the provinces that they take over the same responsibility for Indians that they have for other citizens in their provinces. The take-over would be accompanied by the transfer to the provinces of federal funds normally provided for Indian programs, augmented as may be necessary.

 

3. Make substantial funds available for Indian economic development as an interim measure.
4. Wind up that part of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development which deals with Indian Affairs. The residual responsibilities of the Federal Government for programs in the field of Indian affairs would be transferred to other appropriate federal departments.

Race based policy created the abhorrent state that Canadian natives live in. Only through ending race based policy will we see an easing of the disaster that is our reserve system. While pointing out what is required is simple, actually getting to a racially blind system in Canada is anything but. With the passing of 40 years problems on native reserves have gotten far worse by every measure and Canada is no closer to implementing the simple measures that are absolutely required to work towards ending this misery.

Canada has known for over a generation what needs to be done with native affairs. The only question now is how horrific will things have to get in our system of racial apartheid before a government gets the courage to face-down the defenders of the Indian Industry and make the changes that must be made.

It is the 21st century and still Canada insists on maintaining racial segregation though the Indian Act. It is embarrassing and it is a disaster. Even Trudeau knew this. Alas, Trudeau chose to make the Charter his legacy instead of the abolition of the racist Indian Act in Canada.

 

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Bike Rights!

Being somewhat stranded in Northern Manitoba for a little while, I have been a bit lapse in my rambling and ranting I fear. I can happily report that this exploration project is coming to a close soon and I will be able to enlighten on this site at my usual pace.

Along with oilfield operations slowing in spring, we will see a ramping up of the rhetoric coming from the rather entitled bicycle-cult crowd in urban areas across North America. Many many people ride and enjoy bicycles in urban areas and this certainly does not make them cultish. There is an element of the extreme in the urban bicycle lobby however and like vegans they tend to self-identify rather quickly whether you want them to or not.

The bicycle-cult folks are not so much pro-bicycle as they actually are anti-car. We can and should typically dismiss them but alas they do somehow hold a disproportionate sway on many municipal councils and countless dollars are being wasted around the nation as car lanes are removed from roads and given to bicycle commuters who simply do not exist in any significant numbers. Many cities such as Red Deer, Toronto and Edmonton have been removing these idiotic bike lanes but can’t seem to keep up to the addition of wasted lanes of pavement for invisible bicycles.

Despite inflated claims of as many as 12,000 daily bicycle commuters coming into Calgary’s core, I just can’t seem to find them. I will check again in spring. There must be a road that is simply bumper to bumper with bicycle commuters hiding out there somewhere.

The late great George Carlin pointed out that the common element in any joke is the exaggeration. Anything can be funny if the correct exaggeration is placed upon it.

In the video below from the TV series “Portlandia” a typical bike-cultist is parodied.

The funny thing is, they really didn’t exaggerate much. These types pepper the streets of every nation in the developed world.

It is worth a watch for a short Friday chuckle either way. 🙂

 

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