Not To Be Trusted With Knives











Tonight I baked a most delicious batch of “Go To Hell Stephen Harper” Apple Crisp:

Fresh baked Go to Hell Stephen Harper Apple Crisp

Fresh baked "Go to Hell Stephen Harper" Apple Crisp.

I got the recipe from my friend Rebecca, who baked (and, I believe, invented?) this delicious delicacy on election night.  In her words:

“Go To Hell Stephen Harper” Apple Crisp is made like normal apple crisp, but with added funding for the arts, social programs, and sensible health care reform 🙂

“Go To Hell Stephen Harper” Apple Crisp is best served warm from the oven with a scoop of “Don’t Vote for John McCain” ice cream.

Advertisements


The 5th Premier of the Province of British Columbia – Robert Beaven.

Name Robert Beaven
Born: January 20, 1836 in Staffordshire, England
Died: September 18, 1920 in Victoria, BC
Party: like it’s 1899
Held Office: June 13, 1882 – January 29, 1883
  • family moved from England to Toronto because he dad, the Reverend James Beaven, received an academic appointment there
  • came from Toronto to BC. Like many people, he came to BC because of the gold rush.
  • became a businessman in Victoria (specifically he was a “commission agent, the local agent of the Florence Sewing Machine Company, and, with a partner, a retail clothier and outfitter.”1)
  • became the secretary of Amor De CosmosConfederation League (which was pro-Colonies of BC & Vancouver Island joining Confederation)
  • upon the colonies joining Canada in 1871, he was elected to BC Parliament
  • served in the cabinets of De Cosmos and Walkem
  • he was accused of “corruption and incompetence” (although an investigation by a royal commission found no proof of this), and was criticized for such things as not opening up land for settlement quickly enough, mismanaging Native land policy, running up provincial debt,  the escalating cost of the Esquimalt dock (apparently mainlanders didn’t like how dominant the Island was and Islanders were pissed off that transcontinential railway was going to exclude them)
  • became the Premier in 1882 with one of those minority governments where there’s no political parties and majority/minority status depends on how many MLAs say they are with ya, and how many say they are against ya.
  • he offered to make Princess Louise the Queen of Vancouver Island during a visit to BC.  Louise was the 6th child of Queen Victoria and wife of then-Governor General of Canada, the Marquess of Lorne.  Seeing as technically Louise’s mom, Queen Victoria, was Queen of all of Canada, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have gone over too well if Beaven had separated Vancouver Island from Canada and made Louise the Queen, even if he could have.
  • brought down by a non-confidence vote in 1883
  • in total, he served 23 years in the legislature until he lost an election in 1894
  • was also the mayor of Victoria from the 1892-1894 and 1996-1898
  • after being out of the legislature for 4 years, he was asked by then-Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Robert McInnes to form a government after McInnes dismissed then-Premier John Herbert Turner.  Other MLAs were pissed, refusing to support a Beaven government and that pretty much went nowhere.

In summary, he was a politician for a long time. Then he wasn’t.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. Boo-yah!

References:

Wikipedia, the double-shot, half-sweet, extra hot Venti of references.
1Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online



Hey, did you know that there’s a Canadian federal election on Tuesday?  I might have forgotten to mention it here on NTBTWK.  For those of you who love my special brand of political coverage, I hope you enjoy today’s posting . For those of you who don’t care about Canadian politics or Canada or, like, democracy and such, I shall return to other hard hitting issues, like how hot Rick DiPetro, goalie for the NY Islanders is, after Tuesday.  Mostly.

A while ago, Rebecca posted a summary of the candidates in her riding of Vancouver Centre. And I thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea! I’m totally doing for that my riding too!”  Then I got sick/busy/[insert excuse here]. Anyway.  I’m doing it now. So there.

Vancouver Quadra

  • encompasses the University of British Columbia, the Musqueam Indian Reserve No. 2 and Vancouver’s West Side.  West Siiiiide, represent!
  • population (according to the 2006 Census) of this riding is 119,627
  • created in 1947
  • has been represented by 7 different MPs over the years – 5 Liberals and 2 Tories
  • was represented by the Right Honourable John Turner, who was the Vancouver Quadra MP from 1984-1993 and was the Prime Minister for about 2 seconds
  • incumbenent is Liberal Joyce Murrary, who won a by-election earlier this year after former MP, Liberal Stephen Owen resigned.  Murrary beat Conservative Party* rival, Deborah Meredith by a mere 151 votes in that by-election.

The candidates, in alphabetical order by last name, are:

Barens, Norris – Libertarian Party

  • doesn’t have a website
  • there’s a link on the Libertarian Party‘s website to an email address for Barens, but no info about the candidate
  • I have yet to see a single lawn sign for Barens
  • I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Barens is not a contender

Caplan, David – New Democratic Party

  • shares his name with an Ontario provincial Liberal cabinet minister, making him a pain in the ass to Google
  • has been in the Armed Forces, a lawyer, a financial analyst, a freelance writer, a homemaker
  • has degrees in science, law, business administration and Chartered Financial Analyst
  • now wants to be a politician – I’m not sure if he’s really diverse, or doesn’t know what he wants to do1
  • there is little info available on Caplan, but in fairness he only took over after civil-liberties lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who had been the NDP candidate in this riding, stepped down on September 19 because he video smoking marijuana
  • his website, such as it is

Grice, Dan – Green Party

  • is a “new media and technology consultant” and appears to have a company that I have never heard of.  I mean, I like to think I know a fair number of the tech peeps in Vancouver, but I’ve never heard of “VanAlive Communications” – has anyone else?
  • He did his B.A. in Classical Archaeology and the History of Rome, Greece, and the Near East at UBC
  • He answers the question “Why are you running?” with “I want to help modernize our political structure and help move Canada to a low carbon economy. I come from a generation that values ingenuity and I feel that we need politicians to be more responsive and more concerned with fixing the problems of today rather than worried about their public perception.”
  • his website

Meredith, Deborah – Conservative* Party

  • evil
  • teaches at the evil UBC Sauder School of Business
  • likes to stick “tackling crime” stickers on her evil lawn signs

Murray, Joyce – Liberal Party

  • has been the MP for Vancouver Quadra since the by-election earlier this year
  • formerly an MLA with the (admittedly, evil) BC Liberals before she was defeated in the 2005 election
  • introduced a private members bill proposing to exempt bikes, bike accessories & repairs from the GST
  • did her MBA at Simon Fraser University
  • her website

As there was a by-election earlier this year where Murray beat Meredith by a mere 151 votes, many people suggest that this will be a tight race (and VoteforEnvironment suggests strategically voting for Murrary to keep out the Conservative*). The Election Prediction Project, which has a pretty good track record for predicting election winners, says that this riding is going to the Liberal.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they are right!

1I’ve been accused of this myself. At my interview, my eventual Masters supervisor, upon hearing I was doing a minor in Drama with my major in Honours Biochemistry called me “conflicted.” I told him I prefer to think of myself as well-rounded.



{October 9, 2008}   Science and the Election

Note: This blog posting is going to be a long one. I’ve been writing it for days. But it’s so worth the read, if you are interested in science, education, the Canadian election, or hearing my ongoing rants about the Conservative* party.

Today Yesterday The other day, I read this story on the CBC: Researchers wonder: What’s the plan for R&D?. Some of the key things that jumped out to me:

  • “On Sept. 17, federal Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion did pledge a 60 per cent increase of funding for university-based research — to $500 million a year — and proposed a $100-million fund to enable scientists, researchers and graduate students to take on projects that extend beyond the barriers of their disciplines.  But the topic was soon buried under the larger issue of government spending, with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper that same day calling the spending proposals of Dion and NDP Leader Jack Layton “mind-boggling” in size.”
  • The Conservatives have not issued their party platform, but neither they nor the other party leaders has devoted a speech to science-related issues outside the environment.”
  • Scientists “expressed dismay at political parties that want to build a knowledge economy but seem unwilling to contribute to it.
  • “Funding was the top concern: few scientists can complain about current funding levels, but some worry about the future of the funding while others worry those funds are becoming too narrowly focused on industrial spinoffs or favoured established programs at the expense of new initiatives.|

Few scientists can complain about current funding levels?” What? The Canadian Institutes of Health Research – the federal funding agency for research related to health and the agency with which I’m most familiar – has very depressing rates of funding: exact numbers depend on the particular grant competition, but it’s fair to say that you can expect ~ 25% success rate1,2 when you submit a grant application (i.e., 3 of every 4 grant applications submitted won’t get funded). And that’s not because the grant applications aren’t high quality.  They have a category called “Fundable, But Not Funded,” which basically it means that the proposed research is of high enough quality that it should be funded, but there’s no money for it.  According to a recent CIHR Operating Grant Program Analysis2, the success rate of “fundable but not funded” grant application is only ~30% – that means that 2 out of 3 high quality research applications submitted to the operating grant competition are not funded.

As I’ve mentioned before, the National Science Adviser to the Prime Minister was first shunted to the Industry Ministry (which shows how the Harper government views science – in their view, science is only important if you can make money from it) and then canned completely.  And, as I’ve mentioned before, the Harper government is willing to completely ignore scientific evidence and oppose Vancouver’s supervised injection facility, claiming that there isn’t enough science to back it up (I suppose all the scientific evidence that they choose to ignore doesn’t count?).

Shortly after reading that article, my friend and scientist extraordinaire, Mel Kardel, sent me and some other colleagues a summary of each of the main political parties’3 stances on science and on students, which she created by going through each of their platforms and searching for “science” and “student”4. Would you believe that the Conservative* party platform does not include the word “student” even one time? Oh yeah, the Conservative* party *finally* released their platform. One week before the election. The election that THEY called. And after some people have already voted in advance polls. Anyway. The only mentions of “education” in their 44-page document were vague references to “provid[ing] practical help to Canadian families to assist them with higher costs of living, and protect them from unfair retail practices so that families can focus on the things in life that matter most, like buying their first home and saving for their children’s education.” Which basically sounds like “as for actually paying for education – you’re on your own!” Oh wait, on page 9 it says that they’ll let charities and NPOs create RESPs for kids. Isn’t this like saying “hey poor people, want your kids to go to college? You better ask a charity, because the Conservative* government isn’t going to help!” And then there’s the vague: “Improving Aboriginal education is crucial to giving young members of the Aboriginal community the opportunity to succeed.” No mention on *how* they are going to improve Aboriginal education. Awesome.

As for science, the only mention of science in their platform is the claim that they “made major new investments in leading-edge science over the past three budgets, which will increase support for science and technology by $850 million by 2009-10,” (with no indication that most of this was directed very specific, industry-focuses areas rather than the basic sciences), a claim that they will “make additional investments in internationally recognized science and technology projects in Canada,” (with no suggestion of how much that investment will be, or in what areas).  And there’s a promise to “build a world-class High Arctic Research Station that will be on the cutting edge of Arctic issues, including environmental science and resource development.”  And that’s it for education and science in the Conservative* party’s platform.  For real.

In contrast, the Liberals, NDP and Green Party all talk extensively about science and education in their platforms. I can provide you with the full details if you like, but in view of the fact that this blog posting has gotten quite long (!), I’ll just hit you with some highlights here:

Liberals:

  • increase in the indirect costs of university based research to $500 per year
  • increased funding for both CIHR and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to $1.275 billion/year (from $960 million) and for the Social Sciences and Humanities Council (SSHRC) to $450 million a year (from $320 million), plus $100 for interdisciplinary research
  • an Education grant of $1000/yr for postsecondary students, plus a $250 tax credit for students who also work
  • increased grants and bursaries for students in need
  • an extension of the post-graduation interest-free period before you have to start paying off your student loan from 6 months to 2 years, plus lower interest rates on student loans (man, could I ever use that!)

NDP:

  • $1000 grant to students who qualify for student loans
  • more funding to universities and keeping tuition fees affordable (although I’d argue with the word “keeping” here, as tuition fees are *not* currently affordable)
  • reforming student loan system, including interest relief for students completing an internship after graduation
  • increased funding for research and for grad students (to keep the best and brightest here in Canada)

Green Party:

  • “Post-secondary education should not be a debt sentence”  Hee hee. Debt sentence.
  • forgiving 50% of your student loans when you graduate (holy crap! that would have amounted to a $35,000 grant for me!)
  • increased funding to universities
  • working with provinces to lower tuition fees
  • “Fund universities to create more tenure track teaching positions, regardless of perceived commercial value of the area of pedagogy.”

Now, I realize that the proof is in the pudding and we’ll only know if anyone will follow through with these promises once they get into power. But I also think it’s pretty clear that the Conservatives* have no intention whatsoever of doing anything for students or for scientists.  At least the other parties have promises for which we can hold them accountable.  Time to replace Harper!

1How to Prepare a CIHR Application, University of Western Ontario
2Operating Grant Program Analysis
3Not including the Bloc, ‘cuz we can’t vote for them here in BC.
4My friends rock.



I saw it mentioned on Evany’s blog that voters in Missouri have to register to vote by today, Oct 8, in order to vote in the November US presidential election.  I also noticed this in the celebrities-telling-people-to-vote video posted on Rebecca’s blog – if you don’t register to vote in the US presidential election by whatever deadline your state sets, which may, as in the case of Missouri, be over a month in advance of the election, then you lose your right to vote.  What is up with that?  Here in Canada I can walk up to the poll on election day with my ID and proof of my address and register right on the spot.  I’ve done it many times.  It’s that simple!  Doesn’t it seem problematic to take away people’s right to vote because they didn’t register over a month before the election?  Is there some rationale for this that I’m missing?



As promised, I let the brochure of evil soak in vinegar1 – and not just overnight, but for a full 24 hrs!

And you know what?  It didn’t look much different than before I put it in the vinegar!  But apparently the vinegar did some work on degrading the fibres of evil, of which this brochure is clearly made, as when I picked it up it ripped apart very easily, making it simple to shred into bits and crumple up into this soggy clump of evil:

And that, my friends, is that end of that brochure.

I wonder if they’ll send me another one?

1Oh for the days when I worked in a lab with concentrated acids!



… perhaps they heard that I no longer had the first one and felt that I needed another.

This time, I figured I would burn it:

Burn FAIL!  The damn brochure, which one would think was made of paper, wouldn’t burn.

So I decided to try again, this time with a little help from our old friend, rubbing alcohol1:

As you can see, the heat of the flames was overwhelming! But guess what happened:

That’s right, the rubbing alcohol burned away, leaving the paper virtually unscathed!! My best theory on why this is so is that these brochures are made by the spawn of Satan in the 7th layer of Hell, and thus must be constructed from flame resistant materials.

As I type this, the brochure is now sitting in a pan full of vinegar, where it will stay overnight:

Tomorrow, we’ll see how it looks.

1Me moving the bottle back and forth is my unsuccessful attempt to get my lame ass camera to focus on the rubbing alcohol label. Focus FAIL!



… goes to Jack Layton for saying to Stephen Harper: “Where’s the platform, under the sweater1?”

Is anyone else dismayed by the fact that Harper has not issued his party platform?

How, exactly, can you run an election campaign without letting the public know what your plan is?  Even more mind-boggling than that is: polls show the platform-less Harper is in the lead!

1The “sweater” comments refers to the fact that Harper is wearing sweaters in his campaign ads to “soften his image.” You know, his image as a compassionate-less robot would would ignore someone who just fainted.



As the election1 approaches, I’m starting to get a little frightened. Polls are suggesting we may end up with a Conservative* majority.

George Strombo invited all the party leaders to be interviewed on his show, The Hour.  Not surprisingly, Stephen Harper has REFUSED to go on the show.  Harper appears to be frightened by the thought of people hearing what he or his party members say unless it’s under very tightly controlled circumstances. He avoids talking to the media (other than handpicked reporters who will ask the questions Harper tells them to) and the public as much as possible.  Strombo is an excellent interviewer – he cuts through the bullshit and asks some really direct questions – and I’m sure Harper would be way too terrified to be asked real questions.

If you are at all interested in the federal election, be sure to check out the interviews with each of the leaders EXCEPT scaredy cat Harper (and possibly not Gilles Duceppe):

And you definitely have to check out this clip of Strombo inviting Harper to come on to The Hour:

A few random interesting things I learned from these interviews:

  • Jack Layton’s great granduncle was a Father of Confederation and his dad was Conservative minister under Brian Mulroney.
  • Elizabeth May was an adviser to Brian Mulroney’s government!2
  • Elizabeth May is working on a degree in Theology.
  • I’ve heard this before from a number of sources, and Elizabeth May and Stéphane Dion both allude to it in their interviews – Stephen Harper is a micro-managing control freak.  In response to Conservatives’* accusation that the Liberals plan to raise the GST, Dion said: “Mr. Harper wants to control everything, to the point that he would like to write the Liberal platform.” Dion states that the Liberals won’t raise the GST, nor will they go into deficit.  Their plan is to lower income tax and replace the difference with a tax on pollution.

Also worth watching is this video showing Stephen Harper giving a speech that was plagiarized from Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and comparing it to Howard giving the speech:

Astonishing.

Another interesting site worth checking out is Vote for the Environment.  As shown there, if people were willing to vote strategically, we could avoid a Harper government at all (let alone a Harper majority):

If those of us who care about the environment don’t work together across party lines, the pro-environment vote will be split as it was in the last election and Harper will be re-elected.

We are the majority. But our electoral system hasn’t kept up with Canada’s changing political landscape.” (Vote for the Environment)

The site will show you “which candidate in your riding supports action against global warning AND has the best chance of winning”3

Rebecca recently posted a summary of the candidates in her riding, Vancouver Centre, and has inspired me to do the same.  So look forward to a summary of the Vancouver Quadra candidates here, probably on Monday.  In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the Canadian federal election?  Are you going to be voting strategically?

1The Canadian federal one. The US presidential one, Vancouver municipal one and then, not too far after those, the BC provincial one, are all also approaching, of course, but first up is the Canadian feds.
2What’s with all the lefties having ties to Mulroney?
3There’s a video on the site explaining “how it works” and this quotation is taken from that video. To watch the video, go to their site and click on “Vote smart so the majority wins – FIND OUT HOW HERE.”

The * is there in recognition of the fact that Stephen Harper’s “Conservative” party is not the real “Conservative” party… it’s the Reform-Party-cum-Canadian-Alliance-in-Tory-clothing.



Watch as someone on stage with Stephen Harper faints and Harper shows no compassion, no human emotion whatsoever:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Stephen Harper is a Dick – SPIKE“, posted with vodpod

 

Robot, much?

And why didn’t I see this in the news?

UPDATE: VodPod FAIL!!! Using VodPod to embed the Harper clip isn’t working – it keeps embedding some random weatherman! For the real clip, go here.



Guess who I’m not voting for in this election?



Andrew Charles Elliot, the fourth Premier of the Province of British Columbia, rivals the Right Honourable Captain Boring in terms of sheer boringness.

Name Andrew Charles Elliott
Born: c. 1828 somewhere in Ireland
Died: April 9, 1889 in San Francisco
Party: Like a rock star
Held Office: February 1, 1876 – February 11, 1878
  • apparently they don’t actually know when he was born, nor can they narrow down the location to more than just “Ireland.”  Nice record keeping, 1820s Ireland!
  • he came to BC to be a lawyer in the “gold colony” and somehow was called to the bar, even though there was no county court system.  So he figured he’d leave.  Then they made a court system. And then he stayed.
  • He became a county judge, then a “gold commissioner and stipendiary magistrate,” then he was appointed to the Legislative Council by Governor Frederick Seymour.  After BC joined Confederation, he became the high sheriff, then the police magistrate of Victoria.  He had a lot of jobs.
  • In 1875 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly and later would become the Leader of the Opposition (again, remembering that there aren’t any political parties at this point).  When G.A.W. got kicked out by a non-confidence vote, Lieutenant Governor Joseph William Trutch asked A.C.E. to form a government.
  • He had a reputation for being boring “honesty and gentlemanly behaviour. “Nearly twenty years in office and not rich!” exclaimed David William Higgins, the editor of the” Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle4.
  • Faced with the clusterfuck of a financial situation  that G.A.W. had left behind1 he raised taxes. All sorts of taxes. Real estate taxes. Income taxes. School taxes. Wild land taxes.
  • Like G.A.W. before him, A.C.E. had to deal with the whole railroad thing.  The feds had offered a railroad from Esquimalt to Nanaimo if the province agree to let them have more time to complete the transcontinential railroad.  But there were more delays and suchlike, and then the feds said, “Um, yeah, that whole thing about the railroad ending in Esquimalt… yeah, not so much.”
  • His government was defeated in 1878 and so he resigned.  Then he tried really hard to get a pension from the federal government on the basis that he was a former colonial official.  Again, the feds said, “Yeah, not so much.”  While in London trying to get support for the pension claim, his wife died unexpectedly back in Victoria in 1881.
  • He lived in San Fran for his last few years, on the advice of doctors who felt the northern climate was too cold for his poor health.

In summary,*yawn*.

Image credits: Accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. Hoorah!

Footnotes:
1It was so bad that the Bank of BC had cut off their government’s credit. How bad does a government had to be for the bank of their province to cut off their credit?
2Apparently these docs haven’t actually been to San Fran ‘cuz, really, it’s pretty frickin’ cold there, imho.

References:
3Wikipedia, the reference where everybody knows your name
4Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online



Today’s installment of my Premiers of the Province of British Columbia series – G.A.W.

George Anthony Walkem.jpg Name George Anthony Walkem
Born: November 15, 1834 in Newry, Ireland
Died: January 13, 1908 in Victoria, British Columbia
Party: none
Held Office: February 11, 1874 – February 1, 1876
June 25, 1878 – June 13, 1882
  • 1847: family emigrated to Canada from the UK
  • went to McGill and studied law under John Rose
  • 1858: called to the bar in Lower Canada
  • 1861: called to the bar in Upper Canada
  • 1862: moved to the then Colony of BC
  • at first they wouldn’t call him to the bar in BC because Judge Matthew Begbie (who apparently was the one who did the calling) only liked lawyers trained in Britain; however, Walkem appealed to Governor James Douglas (who you may remember as our buddy Amor‘s enemy) and Jimmy D proclaimed the Legal Professions Act, permitting “colonial” lawyers to plead in court”4
  • 1864-1870: member of the Legislative Council of the Colony (the members of which were appointed) for the Cariboo East and Quesnel Forks District
  • like Amor, he pushed for the union of the Colonies of BC & Vancouver Island, and then for the united Colony to join Confederation
  • 1871: with BC now a part of Canada, Walkem was elected to the provincial legislature for the Riding of the Cariboo and was the chief commissioner of lands and works in John Foster McCreight‘s government;
  • he was appointed as the Attorney General in the cabinet of our buddy, Amor, despite having described Amor as having “all the eccentricities of a comet without any of its brilliance”4
  • 1874: upon the resignation of Amor as Premier of BC, Walkem was asked by Lieutenant Governer Joseph William Trutch to be the next Premier
  • because BC loves a scandal, Walkem faced one when he took over as Premier – specifically, the “Texada scandal,” which consisted of allegations members of Amor‘s government, including Walkem, were going to “profit from public development of newly discovered iron ore on Texada Island”4. A royal commission later declared there was “insufficient evidence to charge anyone with an attempt to prejudice the public interest.”4 Because BC loves a good quotation, Walkem had said, “I did not take silver for iron.”4
  • back then, the railway was kind of a big deal, and Walkem put pressure, unsuccessfully, on Ottawa to build a railway all the way to the Pacific Ocean like it had promised to do. People in BC were ticked off that Walkem couldn’t make this happen, as well as having increased the debt by taking on public works projects, but his government was still re-elected in 1875, “albeit with a reduced majority”4. I’m not sure how someone without a party can have a majority, now that I think of it, but I guess things worked a bit differently back then?”1
  • 1876: his government was kicked out by a vote of non-confidence over its financial troubles. I have no idea how a government with a MAJORITY gets kicked on a vote of non-confidence, but, again, he didn’t have a party so I have no idea how he had a majority in the first place1
  • 1876-1878: served as the Leader of the Opposition against Andrew Charles Elliot’s government. Again, no idea how this works since Walkem wasn’t in any political party and neither was Elliot.1
  • 1878: re-elected as Premier with a majority2 after Elliot’s government falls apart
  • it appears that Walkem was quite the racist, particularly against people of Chinese and First Nations descent – he passed a statute denying Chinese and First Nations people the vote; he opposed “cheap Chinese labour” and banned Chinese workers from being hired for any provincial government contract; he even tried to implement a tax solely on Chinese people, but the BC Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional; he also took a “comparatively hard line on the size of Indian reserves”4 and “may have stalled settlement of the Indian land question to retaliate against the Mackenzie government for its position on the railway”4
  • still pissed off about Ottawa reneging on that railway thing, he appealed directly to London and, since Britian was still the boss of Canada back then, Britian put pressure on Ottawa to build that damn railway
  • April 1882: nearly lost another vote of non-confidence over, among other things, financial problems (this time over a dock being built on Vancouver Island – probably referred to as “Dock-gate”3 at the time)
  • May 1882: appointed to BC Supreme Court, possibly because it was felt that it would be easily to solve the whole railway thing without Walkem in the way, possibly because John A. MacDonald was returning a favour (specificially, Walkem helping MacD a seat in the House of Commons for Victoria after he was defeated in Kingston in 1878)
  • July 1882: the government, now headed by Robert Beaven, who replaced Walkem when he was appointed to the Supremer Court, lost the election
  • Despite the fact that he, as Premier, put forth legislation requiring BC Supreme Court Judges to reside in their judicial districts , Walkem himself, now a BC Supreme Court Judge, refused to move from Victoria to live in his judicial district. Hello, hypocrite.  Apparently, though, he turned out to be well liked as a judge.  More so than he was as a Premier.

In summary, George Anthony Walkem, 3rd Premier of BC, somehow had some majority governments even though there were no political parties in BC at the time, but people were pissed at him because Ottawa didn’t build the railway to the Pacific like they promised, so sometimes they kicked him out. Also, he was a racist.

Image credits: From the National Archives of Canada, accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain.

Footnotes:
1Doing a little digging (i.e., clicking through links on Wikipedia, I have discovered that, although there was no recognition of provincial political parties until 1903, candidates would declare themselves as in support of the “Government” or as not in support of the government (“Non-Government” or “Independent”). Then sometimes they’d change their mind later and, since there were no actually parties, one could go from having a “majority” to being kicked out by a vote of non-confidence if enough people who had called themselves “Government” decided they didn’t like you and were now “Non-Government.”
2Even the Canadian Biography Online entry about Walkem concedes “although in a sense there is no such thing [as a majority] in a system without political parties,”4 right after saying he won a “comfortable majority,”4 so wtf?
3😉

References:

  • Wikipedia, the reference of choice for the lazy
  • 4Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, the source from which the Wikipedia entry on G.A.W. appears to be plagiarized. As in direct quotations not being enclosed in quotation marks, nor referenced within the text.


I was doing a little light reading about Bill C-51, “An Act respecting foods, therapeutic products and cosmetic” and noticed this in the FAQ from the Government of Canada’s “Healthy Canadians” website:

Mothers?  Really?  You couldn’t go with something more inclusive like “parents”?  Fathers raise kids too, you know, and sometimes, they give them vitamin C.

Also, DIN stands for “drug identification number“, so “DIN numbers” is redundant.



Tonight’s installment of my British Columbia premieral series brings us BC Premier#2 – a guy who was fond of representative government, but people of Chinese and First Nations descent, not so much. Oh yeah, and he legally changed his name to “Lover of the Universe.”  Seriously.

Amor de Cosmos 2a.png Name Amor de Cosmos (born: William Alexander Smith)
Born: August 20, 1825 in Windsor, Nova Scotia
Died: July 4, 1897 in Victoria, BC
Party: Liberal Party of Canada (until 1882)
Held Office: December 23, 1872 – February 11, 1874
  • spent 12 years as a grocery clerk, but then moved to California in 1853 to become a photographer during the California Gold Rush
  • in 1854, he changed his name from Will Smith (boring!) to Amor De Cosmos (awesome!) – he chose this name “to pay tribute, as he said, “to what I love most…Love of order, beauty, the world, the universe.”1
  • in 1858, he moved back to British North America (i.e., what would later become Canada), specifically to Victoria, which was in what was then known as the “Colony of Vancouver Island” (now just “Vancouver Island” which is part of British Columbia) and founded a newspaper then called the The Daily British Colonist, which would later become the Victoria-Times Colonist (are you still following all this?)
  • he wasn’t too fond of the governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island, Sir James Douglas, governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island who, along with his peeps, wasn’t a big fan of representative government; he figured that the church, church-run schools and a landed gentry should run the show; De Cosmos, in contrast, was big on public education, ending economic and political privileges, and responsible, elected government.
  • De Cosmos supported the development of “the three Fs”: farming, forestry & fisheries – he described fisheries as “an exhaustless mine of wealth”2 and BC forests as “practically inexhaustible,”2; these industries, of course, were kind of a big deal for the economy for many, many years to come (although the “exhuastlessness” of our natural resources, well, not so much).
  • he supported the union of the Colonies of British Columbia (BC) and Vancouver Island (occurred in 1866), and the entry of BC into Canadian Confederation (occurred on July 20, 1871 )
  • political offices held:
    • member of the Legislated Assembly of Vancouver Island (1863-1866, whcn VI joined BC)
    • member of the Assembly of the United Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia (1867-1868, 1870-1871)
    • elected to represent Victoria in both the provincial and Canadian government in 1871
    • took over as Premier of BC after McCreight resigned due to a vote of non-confidence in 1872
  • he is considered to be BC’s “Father of Confederation,” as he played a key role in getting BC to join Canadian Confederation
  • as Premier, his government focussed on the issues with which he had always been concerned: ” political reform, economic expansion, and the development of public institutions — especially schools”1, as well as the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • His tenure as Premier, though, was rather short and he spend much of it in Ottawa & London; “his government continued the policy begun by McCreight of implementing a system of free, non-sectarian public schooling, reduced the number of public officials, extended the property rights of married women, and adopted the secret ballot.”2
  • he described First Nations people and people of Chinese descent as “inferior” (although he thought they could be used in the labour force) and he thought the federal government was too generous in its “concessions of land” to First Nations people, and that First Nations people “should be taught “to earn his living the same as a white man.””2
  • he ended his tenure as Premier amid “accusations of impropriety”3 in 1874, but still managed to be re-elected to federal Parliament.
  • he gained a reputation for being “eccentric” due to such things as as his fierce temper that often ended in fist (and walking stick4) fights, his phobia of electricity, the fact that he changed his name to “Lover of the Universe,” his egotism, his objection to the introduction of prayer in the House of Commons and his remaining a bachelor5); after retiring, his eccentricities intensified to the point that he was declared “of unsound mind” in 1895, and he died about a year and a half later
Hamish McKinnon.  All rights reserved.

The Parliament Building Players, The Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC, Summer 1998. Back: Francis Rattenbury, Nellie Cashman, Amor de Cosmos, Queen Victoria, James Douglas Front: Hamish McKinnon. All rights reserved.

In summary, this guy changed his name to “Lover of the Universe.” What’s up with that?

Image credits:

  1. Black & white image accessed from Wikipedia. In the public domain. w00t!
  2. Update 12 Sept 2008 – Image of the Parliament Players provided by JB (see comments). He owns the copyright. All rights reserved.

References:
1Wikipedia, the reference of champions
2Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

Footnotes:
3Starting a long history of BC Premiers leaving office under a dark cloud. They’ve made something of an art form of scandal, really.
4Picturing this guy getting into a fight in which he uses his walking stick as a weapon amuses me greatly.
5Seriously, being “unmarried” was mentioned in the context of him being an “eccentric.”



et cetera