#198 – La Belle at the Ball

Let me disclose this at the very beginning – if there is any Canadian province that I don’t profoundly hate, it is Quebec. I have enormous respect for the Quebecois, a people who I find to be more cultured and interesting than the caker swine who so hypocritcally malign them. Rene Levesque’s Memoirs and his principled response to the terroristic endeavors of the followers of Pierre “White Niggers of America” Vallieres (yes, this is the name of an influential book in Quebecois political thought) influenced me and my political thought profoundly. But Quebec is in Canada, and therefore it is a province with myriad issues.

I need to stress at first that French Quebec has been horrifically mistreated by English Canada. The whole Quiet Revolution thing, which cakers tend to summarize as “grumpy French people who won’t learn English”, was in no small part about the economic disparity on display along linguistic lines. Until the 1960s, English people were almost the entirety of the Quebecois bourgeoisie. Quebec’s siege mentality, I believe, is the result of a real culture having to live next to cakerdom for centuries. Instead of issuing a broad-stroke condemnation of Quebec that I really can’t give (having never really lived with the Quebecois), I’m just going to outline some of the more spectacular incidences of brutality and awfulness lurking in la belle province.

Let’s start with Montreal’s mob and road problem, which the Parti Quebecois accuses the ruling Parti Liberal of stonewalling investigation into because the politics of Quebec are far beyond fucked. It’s estimated that the Italian Mafia in Montreal controls 80% of road construction contracts, and boy do the roads look like it. Oh, and it’s worth noting that among the reasons Montreal is collapsing is the fact that the city raced mindlessly and practically planlessly to finish construction for…Expo ’67 and the ’76 Olypmics! Among the tragic results of this reckless construction, which came with a heaping side order of corruption and Mafia connections within the construction industry was the de la Concorde overpass collapse in 2006. Read the Commission of Inquiry’s findings as to how the overpass collapsed and killed six people and take note of the sheer mass of technical construction issues associated with it.

As anecdotal evidence, I submit that having driven through Montreal in a late 90s Toyota Camry that couldn’t hit 100kph without at least 30 miles of open road, fuck everything about the state of Montreal’s roads.

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(S) Round One of “Canada or Kazakhstan”!

So as to not give cakers any ammo with which to hypocritically attack the French, let’s spend the rest of this post here writing about the familiar bugbear of this blog – Indigenous Affairs! For what it’s worth, Quebec does have the lowest rate of child poverty on reserves in Canada. I only add this to make sure that cakers don’t go and take my condemnations as somehow vindicating English Canada. Right, so let’s talk about the Val D’Or problem. Starting in 2015, Indigenous women reported systemic sexual and physical abuse from police officers in the town of Val D’Or. The consequences of this savagery for the police officers was…nothing. This understandably creates what Pravda refers to as “a climate of tension and mistrust” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This is being discussed in a Quebec-wide inquiry, which speaks to the prevalence of cruelty within the province’s policing system.

And heaven help you if you live in the North of Quebec, known properly as Ungava. Despite having a bitchin’ name that would do well in any Tolkien-esque high fantasy novel Ungava is in fact a miserable place to live. Ungava is frankly a world apart from Quebec, and cartoonization of the Inuit is a rampant problem. Child and youth suicide is a big problem here as everywhere in Canada; in Quebec the incidence of suicide among these Inuit communities was twenty-five times greater than among Quebecois and three times greater than Indigenous rates in the rest of Canada. Granted, that data is from 1995 – but by the looks of it not much has changed.

So I hoped I pissed on enough cakers by providing a rough sample of Quebec’s failures without giving English Canada ammo to use against the Quebecois. Because frankly, there is plenty of overlap in the problems Quebec has and the problems that the rest of Canada does.

195b: Finishing What I Started

I’ve already mentioned that I hate British Columbia, and I spent the whole of post 195 chasing one argument (that British Columbia’s connection to Canada was literally carved out by a crazy person and not an expression of a common will that a country called Canada ought to exist and look as it does) and ignoring the sloppy shitpool that is British Columbia today. You want madness? Here is madness – insane machine politics, an ecologically-sanctimonious ego belied by impossibly poor standards for ecological protections, a wildly irresponsible economy, and a polity whose horrendous rural conditions fit a typical caker pattern of neglect and abandonment.

As per usual, it took a real journalistic effort from an actual news source, in this case the New York Times, to reveal the depths of British Columbia’s political depravity. The current Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, receives an extra $50,000 stipend a year from her party, the money for which comes from donations. For $20,000 you can meet with Clark personally – and even better, there are no limits on yearly donations to political parties in BC. This effectively means that a wealthy person donating to the BC Liberal Party is directly paying a bonus to the Premier on top of being able to purchase access to her. Does this sound corrupt as shit to you? If you have any respect for the concept of transparency the prospect of people being able to limitlessly contribute to the perpetuation of a government – and even being able to pay the Premier a bonus! – should seem rather skeevy.

Unfortunately, British Columbia doesn’t care about such trifles as corruption and the purchase of political power, because the conflict-of-interest commissioner (whose son works for the Premier) says that there’s nothing wrong with buying political power. Hell, you don’t even have to be Canadian to purchase political clou-I mean to donate to the Liberal Party of BC. And golly, does being able to buy political power seem to work out nicely for donors to the Liberal Party. I bet investment firms in Beijing are donating to the party in power in BC because they just care so very much about the citizens of British Columbia. Totally not extracting favors. Right?

sad-trump
(S) Trump looks on with sadness knowing that he will never be as corrupt as B.C.

The bounds of British Columbia’s corruption could take another post to fully express, and there’s so much more evil about that hateful province to shit on, so we’re going to move on and squat a deuce on BC’s ecological record. And boy – for a province that claims to love nature so much they sure suck eggs at actually protecting that environment. Here’s the Bella Bella diesel spill, the cleanup for which was of course utterly fucked up and ended up screwing over an Indigenous community’s clam harvest. There’s the dreadful Mount Polley disaster, which I have discussed before…and it’s open again! Yup, everything is totally okay according to the provincial government of BC. You know, the one that was bought and paid for. But it’s not like Imperial Metal, the company responsible for the failure at Mount Polley donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the government or anythin…oh. Oh, they did. Those “untouched” forests better get used to some slimy touches, and fast.

But these aren’t even the big dogs in terms of British Columbia’s absolute fuckery. The housing market in Vancouver is famously absolutely insane, to the point where the only people covering the problem honestly are in Hong Kong. The Hongcouver, as the South China Morning Post’s column is known as offers a fascinating look into the absolute fuckery of BC’s housing market that – shockingly – Pravda just doesn’t seem to have a grasp on. Need to ditch your poor reputation created from a life of crime and malice? Come to Vancouver, where there’s literally a firm designed to erase your sins. And then, if you take advantage of the myriad exceptions to BC’s attempt at stemming the tide of foreign wealth creating an insane housing bubble in Vancouver, you too can be living large and laughing easy while the working classes live in poverty as a result of ludicrous housing costs. Just ask this “student”, whose college dorm is a $31 million mansion. And when the bubble does burst, don’t expect any relief from housing insanity – the average housing unit still costs a princely $896,000, and that’s after the detached housing market started to slide. And this shit is BC’s largest revenue generator, by the way.

Vancouver skyline at Sunrise
(S) Hideous glass phalluses – truly the strongest of economic spines.

But what about those people who decided that a life of arrogance and working poverty wasn’t for them, the folks who tried to make a go outside of BC’s ludicrously overvalued urban spaces? Well, enjoy some fucking desperation, folks! Emergency services in rural British Columbia aren’t getting to people in time, unless your idea of “on time” is a 5-hour wait to get to a hospital. Even with an unhealthy fixation on extraction (the CBC’s idea of “good paying jobs” in rural BC are “coal, gas, and oil”, which sure are eco-friendly positions for Canada’s green-loving province to lean on) jobs are scarce. Hazelton, BC’s poorest community, suffers from a staggering 80% family poverty rate, with an estimated 85% unemployment rate. Half a million people in British Columbia were going fucking hungry in 2012 (before the huge price upticks, which were of course coupled with no meaningful pay increase), which is no surprise when you’re looking at a $1000 monthly food bill for a family of four in northern BC. Because of insane prices live in urban BC is also shit, which is why British Columbia is the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan.

There. Fuck British Columbia, fuck Vancouver, and fuck everyone who told me that I should move to Vancouver because “the east isn’t the real Canada”. Spoilers – Canada sucks no matter where you’re at in the country.

#192 – the Wreck of the HMS Nova Scotia

On the face of it Nova Scotia is in a better spot than the rest of Atlantic Canada. First, it has a (relatively) sizeable city in Halifax that hasn’t been rendered carcinogenic by the Irvings. Second, Nova Scotia is exporting cakers at lightning speed – in 2013 it and Newfoundland had the dubious honors of being the only provinces where the death rate exceeded the birth rate and where emigration outpaced immigration. Fewer cakers and not being poisoned to death by a soulless caker business? If you can get past the totally absurd condo bubble the place might be inhabitable!

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(S) Though this headline caught Halifax at its best

But that assessment must be tempered by the fact that Atlantic Canada isn’t worth anything, because Atlantic Canada is a failed shitstain on the face of a failed country. We’ll start with the basics – Nova Scotia is fucking broke and what money it does have it doesn’t know how to spend. The province can’t even afford to provide that substandard healthcare cakers love to brag about without federal transfer payments. The province pays out $870M a year in interest payments on its debt; what money it does have it spends on cozy deals for ferry services that leave people stranded for days in the winter because the Coast Guard sucks ass and can’t do its job. Oh, and if you complain about said cozy deal you’re “bad for business“, which is something only a caker business would whinge about. Because why should government care about providing meaningful services for its people with the resources it has when it can support caker business because reasons?

The population of the province is struggling with an above-average rate of bankruptcy, which may have something to do with $200 monthly bills for fucking heating oil. On Cape Breton, 32% of children are living below the poverty line. I can’t express to you enough how pitiful a province we’re talking about here. Like most of Canada this shithole can’t feed itself because of high prices and terrible work prospects, and it’s got the same bizarre affinity for enforcing car dependency on its population by way of terrible transit services. There’s literally nothing in this waste heap that isn’t trying to savage your fiscal – or for that matter actual – health.

This is the part where I talk about substandard healthcare. And oh boy, do I have a story for you. Enter Victoria General Hospital, a shoddy abomination that manages to make one of Medicine sans Frontiere’s emergency clinics look like a top-of-the-line facility. Say what you will about primitive medical facilities – at least the person getting operated on a tent doesn’t have to worry about Legionnaire’s Disease laying unresolved in the OR for 27 fucking years and counting. The water at Victoria General isn’t even potable, which is kind of a fucking problem in a hospital. I’d rather risk having open-heart surgery on a table at McDonald’s. I’d almost rather experience healthcare in northern Canada than risk Halifax’s Victoria General. When Pravda is telling you that the place is a disaster, the place is a fucking disaster. And if that sounds like enough to drive you crazy, I’ve got some more bad news – the mental healthcare system is as failure-ridden as the physical one.

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(S) Nurse Googly-Eyed Hamburger, get me 3cc of ketchup stat!

And that’s Nova Sovietska, a province that is desperate for your tourism dollars and equally desperate that you won’t look at it too hard and see the staggering consequences of rancid, constant caker failure. A province practically owned and operated by the Irvings and the Canadian Navy isn’t going to be much to write home about in the best of times; add to that a culture of chronic desperation and want and an economy whose failure nearly 30 years ago remains unaddressed and disregarded and you have a recipe for the kind of disaster that only Canada can pretend is something to celebrate.

Reviewing Canada’s provinces is yet more evidence that the worst thing that happened to this podunk pile of shit was when it started pretending to be a country instead of a repository for unbridled horror and unrepentant idiocy.

#190 -New Bumswick, the Fief

Imagine yourself a life. The city you live in, dominated by massive tanks with the company’s name slathered on them, suffers an disproportionate number of respiratory problems and cancers. But you’ll never know – every single newspaper in the city, indeed in the whole place, is owned by the company. Your work options are scarce. You could work in timber or paper-making for the company. You could work in the oil industry for the company. The government’s new initiative is call centers; you could always listen to cakers, day in and day out, as they bitch and moan about God-knows-what. The ultimate dream is a terrible administrative job with the government, desperately trying to make sense of byzantine regulation and severe understaffing.

Got a good mental image going?  Good, ’cause I’m going to pencil it in for you. Welcome to New Brunswick, a polluted hellhole clinging to life by accepting Ottawa’s sloppy seconds and licking the boots of some of the most loathsome, terrible caker businesspeople that cakers have to offer. New Brunswick is practically owned by the Irving family, a collection of lizard-people who own or dabble in basically every economic activity in New Brunswick. Their combined net worth is equivalent to the entire province’s revenue in 2014. Yeah, this is going to get ugly.

The Irvings are notorious for their hyper-aggressive oligarchic hold over the province of New Brunswick. Sound a bit like post-Soviet Russia? You’d not be the only one thinking that – people live in fucking fear of the choking control that the Irvings have over their lives. Here’s a story of the Irvings collaborating with both the provincial and federal government to bury a story about glyphosates (a common herbicide used in forestry) and their connection to declines in deer stock. The degenerate caker mafiosos are aided in their Chechnyesque stylings by the fact that they are the key players in what a 2006 Senate report called an “industrial-media complex“.

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(s) Irving “reporter” getting “the news”, circa 2013

Oh, and they like to use dodgy shell companies in Bermuda to avoid paying Canadian taxes. Because nothing says that a company is committed to and cares about the areas it exploits quite like them running away from fiscal responsibilities. That’s kind of shitty given that New Brunswick is wildly in debt and doesn’t seem likely to fix it anytime soon. Oh, and another small sign that the Irvings may not give a shit about the people of New Brunswick: the places that they’ve industrialized, like their massive operation at Saint John, are at greater risk of cancer than other New Brunswickers. Meanwhile, the Irvings keep growing and stowing their wealth, running their little Dagestan as it putters and shits like a Lada rolling to a junkyard. You know what’s even better? The Irvings aren’t even the only shitty oligarchic family operation in the province!

So the Irvings are massive wankers. And what they and the province have wrought is impossible misery. Between the ages of 15 and 24, there are only 36,900 workers, giving the province an incredible 17.1 percent youth unemployment rate. The general unemployment rate – the stated one, mind, with all its flaws and failures – hovers around 10%. Nearly one in seven was living in poverty in 2006. An astonishing 53% of adults in the province are functionally illiterate, meaning that they street signs are about as complex as it gets. This may have something to do with the government’s make-work programs there being critically understaffed. There’s something ironic here, given that New Brunswick is unusually bilingual, but I just can’t find it in me to kick down people who can’t fathom that there’s more to the written canon of man than words written on street signs.

Oh wait, yes I can. New Brunswick is basically Canada’s end-game. It’s a province almost singularly devoted to extraction for the benefit of a tiny minority of people while the majority suffer pollution, fear, poverty, and idiocy. It’s a dismal, miserable, appallingly-poor province in a country that seems more and more full of these sorts of bush-league failures the more we comb through province by province through the abomination that is the Canadian federal family.

 

 

#40 – Channel Surfing, Part Two: Little Shit in the Prairies

The year is 2007. Somewhere in the bowels of the CBC a monstrously unfunny belch of a television program lay dormant, awaiting its chance to inflict grave wounds on the concept of comedy. A whiff of nepotism breathes life into the unspeakable horror, and soon the rotting eructation that is Little Mosque on the Prairie is launched into the unsuspecting television screens of over eighty countries. Little Mosque sees its viewer base decline by 80% in four seasons, probably because every episode is disgustingly hokey, cheerful, tee-hee tripe. Five years later, the show is cancelled and returned to the depths. As I re-write this it is the ten-year anniversary of Little Mosque’s greasy hand-stain on humor. Why not slag the shit out of it?

Little Mosque on the Prairie takes place in a fictional town called Mercy, Saskatchewan. Ever notice that so many Canadian shows take place in make-believe communities? Schitt’s Creek, Dog River, Possum Lake – what’s with that? Anyways, Mercy looks and feels like most of the CBC’s make-believe rural communities in that the place was apparently written by someone who had never seen a Canadian city with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants except while driving. Here come some shucks-golly Muslims renting an Anglican church as a place of worship and GASP! Tensions! Comedic, wacky, hokey tensions that can be set aside after 20-some minutes of painfully saccharine dialog until they blow up again in the next episode! And be sure to laugh at the ridiculous swimsuit the Muslim wears since the pool has co-ed swimming classes! The show’s message appears to be “did you know that Muslims are people too?”. Sadly, it lacks the comedic punch, visual appeal, and talent of shows that express similarly complex messages, like Sesame Street.

(S) These puppets feel more human than Little Mosque’s retinue

We have nepotism to thank for this show’s existence and continuation despite losing over one million viewers just within the first season. Generic “nice guy” and feel-good liberal strawman Amaar Rashid is played on the show by a fellow named Zaib Shaikh, who now works as a who-knows-what bureaucrat for the City of Toronto saying stupid shit about Toronto being the most diverse city on Earth, which seems unlikely in a world where New York City exists. Now, I’ve got nothing in particular against Zaib, but I do take issue with the fact that he’s married to Kirstine Stewart, who at the time of the show’s running was the executive director of programming at the CBC, and that at no point was there a conversation I can find regarding the potential for a conflict-of-interest. I mean, the show was given a sixth (and mercifully final) season despite losing 80% of its audience just three months before the wedding. The person who okays your show probably should at least make some show of recusal when they’re also benefiting from you getting paid. But hey – this is the CBC, a place where nepotism and double-dipping are commonplace, so fuck it!

As for the show itself, my biggest complaint with it remains the same as my general complaints about the CBC’s interpretation of small towns – namely, that these fictional towns are presented as generally-functional places. In Little Mosque the Mayor, Ann Popowicz is presented as a doofus while somehow a suburban town of 14,000 continues to self-maintain without apparent issue, the right-wing radio host equating Muslims to terrorists is revealed to be playing up his vitriol for rating, the conservative imam is convinced that anti-Semitism isn’t acceptable because reasons, and social difficulties melt in 22 minutes of cheese. The show represents the Sesame-Streetification of a complex series of problems that newcomers have to small-town Canada. It is noxious revisionism, like the Vinyl Cafe, and I think it a grave shame that anyone might watch this and think that Canada’s Prairies (which are of course hotbeds of racism) actually look anything like this dreck.

 

 

#39 – Getting Schooled, Part Two: Contractual Idiocy

The concept of tenure is a simple one. In exchange for paying and protecting an academic from harm, the academic provides valuable research insights and teaches students in her ways to inspire the next generation of academics. This concept of patronage is fucking ancient – Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great because he was paid by King Philip II of Macedonia to do so. Surely to shit Canada can’t screw this up, can it?

Yup! Canada absolutely can and will screw that up! Enter the university-as-business age, where students represent profits and education takes a back seat to income. Enter the contract professor. Poorly-paid, dependent on good reviews from students to keep their jobs, and unable to know if they even have work the next semester, these professors are now teaching half of all undergraduate students in Canada. In exchange for abruptly halting an ancient tradition, caker universities provide…administrative bloat. In Canada, the best use for facilities of higher learning is to provide cushy jobs to the friends of wealthy people. Gives a whole new context to the humblebragging CBC piece about Canadians have more postsecondary degrees than anyone else, eh?

The biggest reason for contract professorship growing into a full-time phenomenon is of course cost. Contract professors don’t get benefits or job security or money for doing their own research (which the contractor is of course expected to do on their own dime),  Never mind that the people who teach undergraduate students are desperately poor. Never mind that low wages and limited prospects discourage higher education and thus potentially silence valuable insights. Just look at the savings. Which is what universities and centers of learning were first built for. Plato’s Lyceum was all about squeezing funding from educators and shafting the learned. For sure.

(S) “What’s this about shafting the learned?”

The problem has gotten so bad that even tenured profs are speaking out against the practice. And while these “adjunct” professors are suffering as they try to teach useless caker students, the administrations behind the professors just keep growing. Here’s a funny story about full-time professors protesting a $400,000 year administrative position by offering to split the job four ways. In Quebec, university administrators are making $200 million more per year than they were almost 20 years ago. Said administrations also have a hard time being honest about themselves and their rapid expansion, which is I suppose to be expected. But the point still stands – instead of funding actual intellectuals and their actual research into problems, we’ve opted to funnel funds to mid-level know-nothing administrators who think strangling the academic lifeblood of the university is a good idea.

On top of the administration’s desperate attempts to render professors as broke as possible, universities in Canada have been trying their level best to grow their student populations regardless of whether there’s actually room for those students or if those students can expect a reasonable education. The upshot of that is professors having to teach more students in ever-larger classes, which reduces the ability of the professor to answer questions and to actually teach. And on the whole, universities aren’t hiring enough professors to deal with the ever-growing crush of students.

So, to recap. Your academic achievement in Canada and subsequent desire to teach the next generation of academics is going to leave you mired in poverty and uncertainty, working alongside an unresponsive, ever-growing morass of idiot administrators, responding to reactionary cakers protesting the idea that universities produce research, dealing with a growing number of students that the school does not know how to accomodate, and without any hope that the school might one day recognize that its behavior is suicidal and instead opt to hire enough faculty to address the students being admitted.

What a deal! Who could possibly say no?