Flying Beaver sessions: Scott Thompson and the Griffin Awards


 Posted on January 15th, 2015
 by Patrick – Won't you help brighten a lonely comment box's day?

On Toronto’s downtown-east side sits a quiet, unassuming, and intimate little comedy club called the Flying Beaver Pubaret.

The establishment is split into two halves: one a traditional Canadian booze can and the other a sliver of a (usually) comedic performance area. I’d find it shocking if a forty people could find room to watch a show and a hundred would probably fill up the place entirely. These capacity limits have not, however, been big concerns whenever I’ve visited.

Basically, the aptly named Pubaret isn’t spacious or particularly remarkable, and while it features many struggling and up-and-coming comics it’s not the kind of place you’d think to rub elbows with the likes of Kids In The Hall’s Scott Thompson or the incomparable Paul Bellini (also of KITH fame).

Yet the Flying Beaver is exactly the place to experience this juxtaposition in a truly intimate way — “rub elbows” can be taken literally. This is one of those iconic places, those awesome and seemingly undiscovered spots in which you can feel history being made. And did I mention that most of the interactive, meaty, uncensored, off-the-cuff discussions can be experienced for the price of a beer or two (and you get the beer)? That shit still blows my mind.

Here’s an example of the magic in which Pubaret co-owner Maggie Cassella asks Scott to recount his experiences performing at the Griffin Poetry Prize awards:

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The real cost of “free trade”


 Posted on September 21st, 2014
 by Patrick – Won't you help brighten a lonely comment box's day?

So now that we have Harper basically signing top secret free trade deals with anyone and everyone and in the process directly trying to undermine and sign over Canadian sovereignty to foreign entities without so much as a group huddle (isn’t that treason?), it’s worthwhile to ask what kinds of wonders Canada can realistically expect when all of these agreements are loosed on us.

Chinese companies will be able to seek redress against any laws passed by any level of government in Canada which threaten their profits. Australia has decided not to enter FIPA agreements specifically because they allow powerful corporations to challenge legislation on social, environmental and economic issues. Chinese companies investing heavily in Canadian energy will be able seek billions in compensation if their projects are hampered by provincial laws on issues such as environmental concerns or First Nations rights, for example.

Cases will be decided by a panel of professional arbitrators, and may be kept secret at the discretion of the sued party. This extraordinary provision reflects an aversion to transparency and public debate common to the Harper cabinet and the Chinese politburo.

Patrick Brown, CBC

This isn’t my area of expertise but I did manage to get a sense of what might happen economically — the base justification for all of this — by looking at some Toronto-based data (PDF) around the time when the last two free trade agreements (FTA and NAFTA), were dropped.

Jobs_in_toronto

Across the board the numbers indicate a major blow to the economy, unemployment rate, number of jobs, housing prices and starts — almost everything was hit hard and most indexes have not yet recovered back to late 80s numbers.

I don’t remember these being part of the promises being heaped on Canadians by the government 25 years go, do you? In fact, we were promised the opposite. Funny how what the government promises and what we get are often diametrically opposite. Well, at least we can stuff flimsy paper ballot boxes to our hearts’ content; tell ‘em what we think at the next election! (because they give a shit)

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Government to give monopoly, hardship money, to Rogers or Bell


 Posted on September 12th, 2014
 by Patrick – Won't you help brighten a lonely comment box's day?

The Toronto Star article opens with this:

The cash-strapped provincial government is banking on a bidding war between Canada’s largest telecommunications companies for its lucrative lottery business.

The lucrative business (why the OLG is selling access to it, obviously), is in the exclusive right to sell the OLG’s products and services through a network of the telecom’s own “specialists”; in other words, to run lottery and gaming operations in Ontario. The two companies currently involved in a bidding war for this are Rogers and Bell. Does this maybe have something to do with the OLG’s unquestioned power to violate privacy laws? Of course the process is fair and open to everyone (with lots and lots of money), so no problems there.

Even better, the government will enforce this private, for-profit monopoly for, obviously, everyone’s benefit.

“The service provider will be responsible for recommending strategies to maximize the growth and success of the lottery business, developing products and marketing plans, operations, and process and cost optimization,” the Crown agency announced in December.

“”It will also serve as a single point of contact for OLG by being responsible for everything subcontractors do and ensuring they deliver on OLG’s modernization requirements,” the corporation said.

“In the future, OLG will continue its role in the conduct, management and oversight of lottery. This includes setting the overall strategy for lottery, managing the market by approving channel strategies and approving products.”

Isn’t that wonderful?

And, because Bell and Rogers are such poor, poor corporations (and because the OLG is itself “cash-strapped”), the Commission will be handing out roughly $750,000 to the winning bidder for the harsh inconvenience of plunking a golden monopoly into their private, for-profit laps (paid for by taxpayers, of course).

Potential new operators will now see up to $650,000 of their costs in making a bid covered by the provincial agency.

OLG will also pay $100,000 of fees that bidders must pay to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to investigate them and ensure they are above board.

Finally, it wouldn’t be government if this wasn’t all kept a big secret:

In an email, OLG’s Tony Bitonti emphasized that “procurement involves information of a commercially sensitive nature.”

“As a result, details of the RFP (request-for-proposal) documents and names of pre-qualified service providers will not be released while the process is ongoing,” wrote Bitonti.

“There will be no further communication about the RFP until a service provider is announced. OLG expects to announce the successful service provider in fall 2015,” he continued.

Bitonti said no potential price-tag for the lottery could be disclosed because that’s part of the bidding process.

Ooh, “pre-qualified” … I wonder how that works, and who decided on the “pre-qualified service providers”.

On the bright side, it looks like karma is a thing after all.

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