#189 – Fuck Manitoba

You know your province sucks when your major city is used for a throwaway joke on an episode of the Simpsons:

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(S) A major newspaper printed this article. Read it and cringe.
Winnipeg gets another reference in the show, this time as a threat to keep children in line. To be honest I’d be a little concerned by the threat of being sent to Winnipeg. One reason? An underclass of segregated, impoverished Indigneous people. Shockingly, the great Canadian air hasn’t magically given desperate people with nothing to do a sudden impulse to garden and sing O Canada into the sunrise – gangs run rampant. 10% of the population don’t know where their next meal is coming from. There’s a housing bubble there too, because why not fuck up some more. The people have spoken about public transit being akin to Satan’s puckered asshole have some evidence to their claim. Like how they deferred maintenance for so long that they had to cut services suddenly. Here’s a lady saying that she literally might as well have walked.

Sound like shit? Well, it’s all downhill from there folks! Yes, Manitoba’s best offering is a sloppy slapping of shit on a plate, a place that Canada would almost rather forget was there. This may be because it used to be an important rail hub for extractive industry until those industries inevitably buckled or moved. Shockingly there were no plans for Winnipeg after that, and man does it show. Remember how I said that Canada throws places away after they’ve served their purpose? This is probably the biggest instance of that – a whole province tossed away.

How bad is it? Well, faith in Winnipeg outside of Winnipeg is so high that municipalities are trying to take the construction of vital services into their own hands. The wait-times in Manitoba’s hospitals were the dubious winners of the Longest Wait Time Award for 2015. Provincial transit infrastructure is so poor that paramedics can’t do their jobs. Manitoba scored a bitchin’ D on Canada’s education report card. I’d like to especially point at this chart:

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Translation: onlly loosers wory bout skool!

Before we move on to the ultimate expression of Manitoba misery let’s take a moment to talk about CFB Shilo. One of the largest caker-bases in the country, Shilo has an engrained culture of racism so powerful that it broke the spirit of an Inuk woman who tragically believed in the velvet lies of the Canadian state. And don’t worry – mental health on base is as good as you’d expect. This is a pervasive problem in Manitoba’s small towns. Here’s a lady alleging that racism ran her and her business out of town. And it just wouldn’t be extra-tolerant tee-hee Canada without gay people having every chance to also get run out of town by bigots!

The Canadian military certainly has its problems, but Manitoba takes even that misery and cranks it up like a mad scientist. When the mad province cranks the vile dial as far as it’ll go the ultimate manifestation of misery is born. Enter Manitoba’s Indigenous Reserves, stage left. Manitoba’s reserves are, to be simple about it, the worst in the country. Housing is failing, poverty is rampant, 76% of children on reserves are impoverished, and desperation is the norm – often to tragic result that police can’t be bothered to follow up on. Relations are further strained between Manitoba and the Indigenous because – suprise! – Manitoba may have reneged on its treaty obligations. And I suspect the pollution and contamination doesn’t help relations much either.

And that’s Manitoba – a boring hellhole managing a range of boring, reactionary towns and housing some of the most shameful conditions in Canada. A province built on the bilingual lie which pushed the French away and helped to create the schism between French and English that serves as just one more crack in the caker facade of unity. I thought P.E.I. would be a hard province to top in terms of shittiness. Boy, was I wrong.

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#188 – Anne of Grim Gables

I haven’t beaten up yet on Canada’s tiniest and most useless province – Prince Edward Island. How bad is it? Well, it sucked harder at providing a solid quality-of-life than two of the three territories in 2012. Given how unthinkably fucked the North is, this does not bode well for PEI. Coincidentally, people are leaving the island in droves, citing reasons like the place being boring, cultureless, and filled with noxious dudebros. One in six children on PEI live in poverty and the issue hasn’t received attention in at least 25 years. An island that seriously brands itself on its potato crop has a 25% incidence of childhood food insecurity. How do you fuck up this badly and how can anyone fix this mess?

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(s) The world’s largest egg-beater probably won’t help.

Prince Edward Island, like British Columbia only joined Confederation because of debt. This is rather funny considering that Charlottetown is hailed as the “Cradle of Confederation”. Revisionism starts as soon as the island is forced into the Canadian fold. Never mind that Canada took on the island’s debt or that Prince Edward Island was also seriously considering joining the United States. Better not think about the fact that 20% of Canada’s provinces effectively joined the union out of debt bondage, because that isn’t shucks-golly approved! That the Canada connection is a central part of Prince Edward Island’s self-branding is a fascinating display of caker doublethink and revisionism in action. It’s almost impressive how quickly and ably Canadians erase their pasts.

When all the Anne of Green Gables crap is scraped off of the place PEI reveals itself to be rather less wistful and rather more unhealthful. Here’s a letter to the editor decrying the obscene difficulty associated with finding a doctor on the island. Prince Edward Island is dealing with both a crippling shortage of nurses and a debilitating lack of doctors. Six year ago there were problems associated with getting prescriptions filled, too. And just like in the North doctors and frontline care are being ground to dust without adequate support. Speaking of not having any support, Prince Edward Island has a critical lack of foster parents. Wonder if that has anything to do with PEI’s longstanding policy of not having abortions on the island, a policy which only ended this year?

Anyways, PEI is also full of hicks and idiots. And food prices have gone up nearly 40% in eight years, which doesn’t exactly scream successful policy-making. It also doesn’t seem like planning is a priority for the island, seeing as how they couldn’t be bothered to keep their provincial legislative building structurally sound. Who knew that a Maritime island gets rained on or that buildings require protection ftom rain? Similar planning acumen can be seen in PEI’s lobster fishery, which apparently is benefitting from climate change and high prices only to suffer a bad season because of weather. It’s almost like mindless extraction isn’t the way to prosperity. Not like Canada will figure that out this century.

Like most provinces in Canada Prince Edward Island is dependent on seasonal production, tourism from people who don’t know any better, and extractive industry. Shitty frozen French fries and potato chips were made on the island, though the McCains (another loathsome Canadian family that will definitely get its time in court here on Shit about Canada) have closed their fry-making slop-shop up. The other operator in the frozen food business, the one that’s still around, is called Cavendish Farms and is owned by – wait for it! – the Irvings! Yes, nothing says Canada quite like caker business. Amazing how caker business always seems to turn up in regions that have no hope of attracting anything less parasitic.

And there it is. Prince Edward Island is dangerously unprepared, reliant on unpredictable industries headed by cakers with a proven track record of being shitwands, doesn’t plan properly, and uses an edited version of itself to sell Canadians on a trip to the middle of nowhere. Its social indicators are poor, its people are fleeing in droves to the rest of Canada, and Canadians are busy not giving a shit about tiny, tiny PEI.

I think the islanders would have been better off with the Yankees. Just saying.

 

 

 

#183 – #RealChange Muzzles the Past (for Make Good People of Greatest Canada)

All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.” – Not a good government (actually, this line is from Nineteen-Eighty Four)

Today in cartoonishly-idiotic activities by our one and only Senor Hairpiece we have the erasure of history. Wait, that’s basically all Canada does. Well, here’s an example of Justin doing what Canada does best: erasing its past to ensure gearning smiles for the future. Remember Stephen Harper? Well, Google doesn’t anymore. Wanna learn about why Harper was a hated Prime Minister through first-hand evidence? Well, fuck you. Who needs evidence when you have Justin and that magical, magical hair?

The hilarity of the new government erasing history after (rightfully) accusing the last government of doing just that leads to the darker realisation that this is the modus operandi of the country. Consider this remarkable piece of caker commentary:

Yeah, that’s it! The last guy didn’t save data, so it’s totally normal for this guy to do the same! Except that both instances are bad, Skeezix. Remember the whole “hooray for unmuzzled scientists” theater that we got? The one that culminated in Trudeau playing My Little Dear Leader at an embarrassingly scripted Q&A in Waterloo? See, the shit that the government is “archiving” (and that a professor at Waterloo can only find parts of) is the research material for the social sciences. I’m trained as a political scientist; I need to see what the old government did to look for changes and new patterns of thought emerging from the new regime. In removing the previous government’s data so hap-hazardly we are effectively being muzzled.

And people are pretty okay with that:

Hey, asshole – “partisan PR stuff” is the bread and butter of political science in Canada. You’re basically saying that it’s okay to not have a grasp of political history in Canada because…because why again? And speaking of, why do people have a problem with Stephen Harper’s communications existing on the Internet? Is it because cakers fear any recognition of Stephen Harper, as if the man is some sort of political Beetlejuice? mean, here’s my Google Search for a list of news releases by Stephen Harper while he was Prime Minister:

Note that none of these are about Stephen Harper. Indeed, the only press release I could find on the first page of search results that had anything to do with Harper’s reign was a bit about investing in a memorial to the Irish. Not exactly the kind of stuff most people need, but potentially useful information for someone writing on, say, Irish-Canadian relations or the preservation of Irish-Canadian history. And you’re okay with that disappearing, cakers? “Durr, it’s standard practice” – no shit, and that’s part of why we’re flying blind!

We live in an age where the single most powerful referencing source for most people is Google. Google is like the Yellow Pages of the Internet; without it, the best you can do is blindly grope about a bunch of sites hoping to find things. This stuff can’t just disappear; what more, Library and Archives Canada shockingly kind of sucks. The Internet is already notoriously poor at archiving in a readily-searchable way. Making data less visible through a Google search and blindly assuming that Library and Archives Canada hasn’t dropped the ball is at best laughable. And it’s not like Canada is known for having any kind of coherent digitization strategy.

Think Justin’s any different than Harper as regards leaving the government pantsless while the rest of the world computerizes and digitizes? He’s overseeing Shared Services Canada, a disasterous abomination, actively putting police lives at risk with their uselessness. You know, one that seeks to ask the private sector to do its job for it at a no-doubt inflated price? When Trudeau’s not busy claiming that veterans aren’t owed government assistance he’s busily humming O Canada while Shared Services takes a solid wafting shit all over the Department of Defense and pretending that Canada’s worthless Internet infrastructure will make Canada into My Little San Francisco.

What I’m saying is, this is not a guy anyone should trust with understanding Canada’s digital failures. Canada’s understanding of the Internet, of the need for research information, of how dangerous simply allowing a government to define the policies of the one prior while eradicating any sources that could offer a different perspective – that shit don’t fit in 140 characters. Having to read any more than that is just too much for #RealChange and the band of cakers his fetid fans epitomize.

#181 – Deferring to Stupidity

Cakers don’t like to maintain infrastructure. When given the chance to spend money to keep infrastructure standing, Canada generally opts to not bother. That this often results in more costly repairs down the line is a trivial consideration for a country that is so scared of spending its own money that it would rather screw itself over. Deferring critical maintenance is like ignoring your power bill in hopes that it’ll go away. Silly Canadians – your bills are expected on-time even if you’re increasingly not getting paid on time.

There’s a nifty metric in commercial real estate called the Facility Condition Index, or FCI. It goes from 1-100, with 1 being a practically new building to 100 being a piece of shit that has no business standing anymore. Generally, buildings want to hover around 2-5 on the FCI to avoid snowballing repair problems. Canada’s hospitals average at 11.3. It has been estimated that Canada’s hospitals need $160B in repairs; the report I cited the FCI from suggests that Canadian hospitals need $3.2B a year just to keep up with current disrepair.

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(s) Take two rolls of duct tape and don’t call me in the morning because that costs money

This means that at current Canadian hospitals there are literally billions of dollars of needed repairs in Canada’s hospitals that just aren’t done because spending money on the facility means we can’t have more administrative bloat. As everyone knows, more MBAs and people with undefined “real world experience” (as opposed to those of us who have only worked on holodecks, presumably) means better healthcare. What’s this? One Ontario hospital (the government won’t say which) needs $287m. There’s a $3.2B deficit in 148 healthcare facilities just in Ontario.

But don’t you worry! The fun continues! Know what else Canada sucks Satan’s salty bunghole at keeping up to snuff? Schools! Feels great dropping Timmy off at your local elementary school. Hope he’s not in Calgary, where there’s $1B in work to do that just hasn’t been done. Or Edmonton, which has a similar fate looming over its schools in the next decade. And don’t think this is just a Western thing – here’s Southern Ontario choking on repairs it can’t afford. Nothing shows children the value of education quite like not being able to keep their school from falling apart. Reach for the stars, Timmy!

Some problems come from dumping heavy fiscal loads on crippled municipalities. This is the case with water pipe repairs – because voters literally can’t see the pipe there is a perverse incentive to instead spend limited funds on flashy projects that in turn need maintenance which is of course deferred. Municipalities carry $123B in needed work and on average that number grows by $2B every year. Looking at the piece I just cited we see some classic Canada in the causes and influencing factors segment. Just look at this clusterfuck:

i) poor maintenance of infrastructure; ii) lack of life cycle costing and incorrect pricing (e.g., difference between cost, price, and value); iii) inadequate management approaches; iv) short term focus; v) a lack of integrated planning; vi) a disconnect between planning and implementation; vii) a need for accountability and innovation; viii) a lack of use of best practices.
– Source above

Not giving a shit? Not pricing properly? Not planning? Using guesswork instead of accepted practices? These are the great Canadian attitudes that ensure that new projects will quickly fall to shit and old standbys will grind themselves to dust in the name of making sure that the balance sheets don’t look scary to the kinds of people who focus solely on balance sheets. You know what is scary? This chart, which shows that we’re barely investing enough to maintain basically nothing.

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(s)

Investing half of the low end of the replacement funding needed for roads and sidewalks can’t possibly go wrong, right? Just like how Canada’s hospitals are run on politeness and Tim Hortons and will just stand up forever without needing to address their problems. Cakers will scream up and down about the very real costs of infrastructure only to demand more of it through sprawl and tract suburbs. Rather than fixing what they have cakers would rather build mindlessly and endlessly without the slightest regard for the future.

#180 – We the North (Don’t have Healthcare)

Whenever I worry for a topic, I have only one direction I need look to find something to write on – north. Canada’s Arctic is an abject clusterfuck of a place where Ottawa’s ineptitude blossoms into a turgid display of abject third-world horror. Abject poverty, critically-failed housing that sees 31% of Inuit living in unacceptably crowded conditions, an inhumane prison, rampant hunger, ridiculous costs of living, and wild revisionism reign. For a blog like this the suffering of the North offers virtually unlimited content to slam Canada with. Indeed, the North is so dizzyingly shit that even keeping a steady aim at the cancerous behemoth that is Ottawa can be difficult – that’s why I opened with a shotgun blast of suck before taking aim at a more specific problem to the North – an incredible lack of healthcare.

Yeah, for a country that prides itself up and down on free healthcare Canada sure does a shit job of it. As of the day of writing Pond Inlet, Nunavut has a whooping cough outbreak that it can’t possibly contain with the resources they have on hand. Before that it was tuberculosis, a problem that has never really been gotten a handle on given that another TB outbreak came in 2014. Staff and facilities are in short supply and consequently some iffy people get promoted for want of anyone else while others are worked to dust. When ranked in terms of quality healthcare it’s no surprise that the Northern territories hang out together at the bottom of the pack.

What’s even more fun about the healthcare problems of the North is that they’re compounded by other shitty problems incumbent to Ottawa doing diddly-dicking nothing while the place burned. Remember that bit about poverty? It drills way deeper. For instance, here’s a piece about the North having shitty dental care. Guess what? That reflects elsewise in your overall health. When your food is nightmarishly expensive and you have to make your money last it makes (short-term) sense to eschew healthful food choices in favor of relatively cheaper junk food. Shockingly a diet of soda and sadness doesn’t lead to better health outcomes.

I adore this video. Fuck  you – watch it and have a lark.

You know what else doesn’t lead to good health outcomes? Severe mental illness! And you know what doesn’t help that? Severe linguistic barriers that prevent proper diagnosis and care in hospitals! Or not getting needed medications! There isn’t a single part of the system that appears to be functioning. And while I won’t pretend that the North doesn’t present challenges it is a hardly acceptable for a country that claims public healthcare as a national virtue to offer an endless bevy of suffering instead. As in Nunavut’s life expectancy is 10 years lower than the rest of Canada’s.

Like terrible hospitals? It’s one thing to have a shitty dilapidated mess of a hospital like Halifax’s infamous Victoria General; it’s quite another to have a hospital staffed with four doctors. This is a vicious cycle – as doctors are overworked the need for replacement becomes more urgent and the difficulties in attracting talent grow as the job looks more and more like a baffling mess of confusing kleptocracy and enormous barriers in both professional and personal life.

Like Newfoundland, the North disappears from the caker conception of Canada unless a topical, convenient facsimile of the place can be deployed to make-believe Canada into a liveable place. Nunavut and its myriad problems are simply nowhere on the radar in Canada and because of that things quickly fall to shit. I wanted to showcase some examples of pathetic healthcare indicators in Canada because of how important healthcare is to the caker identity. Except when, y’know, you do a piss-poor job of it and return to ignoring the problem as per usual.

 

 

 

#179 – Getting a Gauge on Toronto

Given the impossibly shitty transit scenario that dominates much of Canada Toronto’s subway system should be a breath of fresh air. Toronto’s subway system is certainly an imperative piece of transit infrastructure for a city that suffers the worst traffic in Canada (this despite cakers fearing Montreal’s traffic as though every car in Quebec is rigged to explode at the slightest glance). And Toronto’s subway has maintained a proud Canadian tradition of eschewing maintenance and standardization in favor of the “ah, fuck it” we all know and loathe. How bad is it, you ask? How about this – the Toronto metro’s subway and streetcar systems run on a totally unique rail gauge whose origins come from horse-drawn carriages in 1861.

Want more than that? How about the now-infamous boondoggle that is the restoration of Union Station, home to a crucial transit hub? How about regular complaints about chronic filth in critical points of the subway? Or the severe overcrowding on the Yonge line caused by decades of dithering and doing nothing while the place sprawled like a suburban caker’s waistline? These blows are only the smaller turds in the TTC toilet bowl; the city’s subway and streetcars are built by caker-business extraordinaire, Bombardier. Which the city is in the process of suing for fucking up so spectacularly that even caker business couldn’t shove it under the rug.

Canada’s largest city has as history of fucking up miserably at expanding transit. This is, I remind you, the city that Jane Jacobs took refuge in as Robert Moses was busy ruining New York City with freeways and concrete sadness. I can’t fathom her picking Toronto anymore, a city that recently opted to rebuild a Soviet abomination of a highway to appease suburban knuckledraggers and that has increasingly been taken over by sprawling suburban bullshit. It’s worth noting that one of the subway expansions that has long been sitting in the planning equivalent of development hell is a route to a place called Scarberia by honest people and liveable by people who don’t know any better.

Among the projects that Toronto has kicked around and around instead of doing anything about are some incredible stories. Back in 1995 Mike “Get the Fuck Outta My Park” Harris abandoned the Eglinton West line and filled the hole in; the project has since been restarted…nearly 15 years later and in a different form. Never mind that the need for infrastructure was first noted in 1985 and that it only came through from recognition of need to approval (not even completion) after 29 years. 29 years?! The Americans got a man to the fucking Moon in less than that timeframe!

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(s) That said the Moon is probably cheaper than Toronto

And who could forget the time when a single failure in the electrical system caused massive shutdowns? Or when the communications systems failed, leaving people stranded for over an hour? And who could forget Canada’s most deadly transit accident, the result of shitty safety systems and training? Or the time that the original 1954 signalling system shockingly gave out 60 years after it was made? Flooding subway stations and streetcars that can’t handle the cold are just par for the particularly shitty course of Toronto’s transit future.

Shockingly, places where people regularly spend hours of their days commuting should probably not look like shit if you want people to have any faith in your infrastructure. And while it might be wise to mobilize resources to not suck when the ability for people to get from one place to another is on the line, Toronto’s shitway and terrible transit woes are at least an honest reflection of how lazy and uncoordinated Canada’s largest city is. And how incredibly inert cakers are, but that’s pretty obviously understood by now. Why plan when you can mindlessly sprawl and use the power of massively-delayed, massively over-budget mega-projects to play at solving the problem?

To do anything else would simply not be the caker way.

#178 – #RealChange Goes to War

Remember the Harper years? To ask the average caker the Harper years were an eon of unbridled terror visited on the Canadian people. Images of Nineteen-Eighty Four bounce about the caker’s crippled braincage; they can practically see the 50-foot tall posters bearing Harper’s ugly mug and the words “Big Harper is Watching You” in their mind’s eye as secret police break kneecaps in the street. The reason I’m pissed with this revisionistic bullshit is that there’s plenty of actual real bullshit that Harper actually did. Don’t need to make shit up, guys – we’ve already got plenty of ammo.

One of these shitty activities that Harper actually did was to instigate a long-running fight against veterans culminating in a shameful fight against paying injured troopers a lifelong pension for their troubles. This was called the New Veterans Charter, a hellish proposal that would see 30 to 90% of a wounded trooper’s entitlements lost because reasons. Veterans’ Affairs devolved into an insurance-agency mentality, denying coverage on spurrious grounds. The Tories went so far as to argue that they have no social obligation to help wounded troops, a position which baffles me given that the MPs and lawyers who make these claims live in a country where at least the concept of disability pay exists to repudiate them.

Obviously the troops fought back and won at least some sort of detente in the BC Supreme Court back in June of 2015. The lawsuit looming over the government was to wait until after the election. And when #RealChange promised to reinstate the old pension-for-injury system it sounded like the end of a shitty era in the field of Veterans’ Affairs. Troops who felt like the government no longer had their backs had, at least in theory, reason to hope that the election would present a chance for, you know, real change to a shitty system. Amateur Kent Hehr took over the file from Julian Fantino and proceeded to restart Canada’s relationship with its employees.

Oh wait. He did the exact opposite of that.

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(s) Turns out that the real change was the color of the Minister’s tie

Remember that detente we talked about earlier? Yeah, that’s not happening because the Liberals are throwing more bad money after good in a legal case that defies not only their stated goals but also a motion passed unanimously by Parliament which expressly deflates the government’s talking point. This can’t be good for the military’s chronic morale and suicide problem; shockingly merely shouting the word reform into a vapid CBC reporter doesn’t make traumatized people feel any better. Who knew?

The issue obviously wasn’t important enough to be implemented in Morneau’s budget and now apparently is worth fighting in court to prevent. I remind you that Parliament previously declared that it absolutely has an obligation to vets and that #RealChange himself expressly promised action on the file. It also just wasn’t worth trying to peel back the mountains of paperwork incumbent to the aforementioned insurance-agency mentality that apparently still permeates the Ministry. Don Sorochan, the lawyer for the vets, was wise enough to demand that the Liberals put their promises in writing because it’s clear to anyone that their word meant nothing.

So what was worth Justin’s time besides actually making the system work? Why, posing of course! Posing for the Invictus Games, a Olympic-like thing that in no way does anything related to helping wounded vets deal with paperwork and get what they’re actually owed by the government. Obviously Justin’s push-ups at the event is the same thing as doing what he promised! His imaginary mic drop was perfect meme material but sadly does nothing to stop the lawsuit that Justin’s Minister just restarted.

Actually, it’s kind of a solid metaphor for the guy. He’s barely capable of playing make-believe and pretending to resolve problems, far less actually doing the things he promised. But here he is gearning at a photo op so it’s all good you guys!