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On Soaring Gas Prices, Neo-Authoritarianism, and the Return of Cruise Ship Tourism

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

Vancouver Russian Community Centre vandalized with blue and yellow paint. It shouldn’t have to be said that millions of Russians are against this war. It shouldn’t have to be said that you can stand with the people of Russia and the people of Ukraine at the same time. Alas, this is the problem with liberalism: it distills all global systems of power relations down to the individual. In this, it promotes the rise of neo-authoritarianism and all its hyper-individualism. It has no desire to see beyond nationalistic jingoism and the fog of war.

It’s like 9/11 when all historical antecedents were immediately erased. We can’t call this war unprovoked. Taking a stand against Putin and NATO intervention shouldn’t be controversial, but it is. Saying that sanctions as a weapon hurts the Russian people and can have unintended economic blowback in the West shouldn’t be controversial. Pointing to the hypocrisy of the West in its refusal to sanction Saudi Arabia for its invasion of Yemen isn’t “whataboutism”, it’s realism.

It’s why you feel guilty for taking a second shower while about 100 corporations are responsible for 70% of GHG emissions. It’s why we blame poor people for being poor. It’s why the trucker convoy is so inherently selfish and completely disregards the neoliberal foundations of their own disenfranchisement. It’s why we invoke the Emergencies Act to counter extremism in this country, but are happy to send mercenaries to fight alongside Neo-Nazis. It’s why our deputy PM condemns the far right, but proudly holds up one of their banners.

It’s why we performatively dump out vodka but complain about gas prices. Or worse yet, actually put a price on a Ukrainian life (Jody Vance pegs it around $10/litre). While it might be fun to mock dudes who just bought a 2022 Dodge Ram complaining about gas prices, it will only hurt workers and lead to rising food prices: B.C. taxi industry calls for relief amid record-breaking gas prices.

But with all the talk about gas prices and with Jason Kenney freezing gas taxes, how is barely anyone talking about soaring profits. And what about the part where high gas prices are good? Gas taxes pay for transit and get people out of their cars. I’m sure nobody wants to hear that either.


Fun fact: The very next day after Jason Kenney declared that he was going to temporarily eliminate the province’s thirteen cents per litre gasoline tax, gas stations in Lethbridge Alberta raised their prices by fifteen cents per litre.

Good thing we’re welcoming cruise ships back with open arms [sigh]: Cruise ships will return to B.C. in April, following new federal COVID-19 guidelines. I guess this is good for tourism, seeing as how that’s basically our only industry other than exporting huge amounts of dirty coal and tearing down old-growth forests.

You know what’s bad for tourism though? Vancouver predicted to be one of the first cities underwater. I can’t wait for the Gastown Venetian Gondola Company.

This is probably also bad for housing. And no, Ben Shapiro, we can’t just sell our underwater condos and move. Hey, you know what’s also bad for housing? (Oh god, he’s going to say “the war”, isn’t he?) The war! BMO Economics says Russia-Ukraine war has Canadian housing “caught in crossfire”. Oh, and when I say “bad”, I only mean the people who are invested in the idea that house prices must never fall, which I guess includes all of us since the Bank of Canada is so heavily invested in subprime debt that our economy will crumble. Hooray!

So what do we do? Seize the wealth of oligarchs! And by oligarchs, I’m talking about Jimmy Pattison and Chip Wilson. And these guys: TED conference returning to Vancouver; speakers include Gore, Gates, Musk. Who wants to have a “tax the rich” party outside the convention centre?

Speaking of which, the Mansion Tax is coming before council soon! I’d post a link to a news article, but there aren’t any. I wonder why?

If this isn’t the most Vancouver thing in the world, then I quit: ‘Homeless camp’ under Burrard Bridge a movie set. Oh boy, I bet Vancouver’s half-dozen right-wing parties were getting ready to rage-tag the mayor on Twitter!

If they really cared about public safety (and not just broken windows), they would be outraged that pedestrian deaths were up 38% from 2020: Pedestrian struck and killed by transport truck in downtown Vancouver. Of course they blamed the pedestrian. If the VPD would stop harassing poor people and actually enforce the 30km/hr speed limit, “that would be greaaat.”

While they’re at it, maybe they could stop spending tax dollars on ridiculous militarized “copaganda”: VPD recruitment video pulled after being compared to Call of Duty.

I wish I had the capacity to be surprised: $4,094 rent for three bedrooms now meets Vancouver’s definition of “for-profit affordable housing”. What Orwellian nightmare world do we live in, where we can use a phrase like “for-profit affordable housing” with a straight face? We need a radical new approach to housing in this city (if it’s not already too late). I’m honestly thinking of throwing my hat in the race. We can’t keep relying on market-based solutions to this crisis. October can’t come soon enough.

Why Do ‘Convoy’ Protesters Hate Journalists? We Asked Them. Because of cognitive bias. Because journalists threaten their cozy little echo chamber of self-victimization.

Related: Counter-Protests Against the Far-Right Convoys: From Mutual Aid to Infrastructures of Resistance. “Counter-protests against the far-right convoys show important examples of mutual aid, solidarity and community defence. They developed quickly and spontaneously, often over social media.”

As restrictions loosen up, advocates for people with disabilities say their needs haven’t been considered. When we lift vaccine and mask mandates we are saying we don’t care if immuno-compromised and disabled people die. It’s really the same policy approach we take to the drug poisoning epidemic. Telling people to “move at their own pace” is like allowing smoking again in all indoor spaces and saying, “Oh, just move to the non-smoking section.” I feel like this is the Twilight Zone. Spring Break, here we come!

Canada, where you can murder an indigenous man on your property and be acquitted, but if you plead guilty to dangerous driving causing death, you are deported: Truck driver who killed 16 in Humboldt Broncos crash loses bid to stay in Canada.

Bonus: Jonathan Schell’s Warning From the Brink.

There are 6 comments

  1. Apparently, Vancouver has a long history of fringe parties and individuals throwing their ass-hats in the civic ring.

  2. RIP Andrew.

    Michelle, this man is a clown w/o Andrew’s soft touch.

    With respect,


  3. Respect?
    Respect would have been sending me a private email (using your real name).

  4. The top 10% of earners paid 71% of Federal income taxes(2018). Top 1% contributing 20% of Federal income taxes. While you advocate for seizing the wealth of the rich you enjoy the largesse of your parents in an apartment paid for by them.
    Perhaps the answer to societal ills is not cutting the legs off people to bring them to your level, increasing the tax burden will likely result in further capital flight offshore. Government, whichever branch, needs to be more efficient and face oversight(other than an election), City of Vancouver just got an independent(allegedly) auditor!
    It’s easy to pontificate with the security of having the Bank of Mommy/Daddy behind you but reducing complex, nuanced issues to class conflict and money seems a little dated, not all rich people are evil ‘Pearl clutchers’ just as not all Russians agree to a war with Ukraine. Jimmy despite his wealth has managed to provide some coins for local charities/hospitals and employs a number of people, sometimes it’s not all about the amount of resources available but how these resources are allocated, having spent enough time cataloguing all levels of government in this Province I’m sure you can understand or will you only be happy when we’re all starving together?

  5. “The top 10% of earners paid 71% of Federal income taxes(2018).” Pretty meaningless stat trotted out routinely by free market fundamentalists which makes no reference to the proportion of income the rich earn and makes no reference as how how much wealth is hidden from the tax system (hint: its 32 trillion). It’s alos misleading because income taxes are just one component of the tax system. Most importantly however, is that your figure ignores rate. The super rich are taxed at a LOWER rate than you and I. This is preposterous.

    “While you advocate for seizing the wealth of the rich you enjoy the largesse of your parents in an apartment paid for by them.” Another tired line trotted out by my crtics. The idea that one should be homeless or starving or forced to live in fucking Chilliwack in order to critique the system which produces skyrocketing inequality is a laughable logical fallacy.

    “Perhaps the answer to societal ills is not cutting the legs off people to bring them to your level”. Accidentally interesting point about equity. That’s not what anyone is suggesting and its bad faith to say so. We are saying we are tired of them cutting our legs so they can tower over us by magnitudes.

    “Jimmy despite his wealth has managed to provide some coins for local charities” Jimmy cut pandemic pay for workers while increasing his wealth by 8 billion dollars. We don’t need charity we need progressive taxation.

    “will you only be happy when we’re all starving together?” You’re batting 1000 on tired cliches here. No dude, I’ll only be happy when nobody is starving. It’s not fucking rocket science.

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