Psych Ward

I went to visit my roomate in the psych assesment unit last night. It was a bad ending to a long day. A film crew had been set up at my mothers house – some sure-to-be-awful sitcom about a man taking care of his family after death. I liked the streetlamps they put up on the street, and we did get some candy, but still. Effectively locked in a hhouse from 2 in the afternoon till eight:thirty with four hyperactive, badly behaived shriek monkeys is not my idea of being worth twenty dollars and some free candy.

The hospital was empty and creepy. I suppose they always sort of are when there’s no-one in the hallways. Long off-white corridors full of closed doors. Mysterious signs full of abbreviations and odd lettter combinations.

The security gave me directions and escorted me partway there. I’m not sure if he was worried if I would be lost or if I was there to wander. Either option I find amusing, but neither terribly interesting. The nurses at the desk were surprised to see me. I assume visitora are rare at night and never enter with purple tophats.

I was slightly frisked, told to not give anyone my housekeys and led to an alcove with a couch and a TV blaring a war movie. Marshall was sitting absorbed by the men in green jeeps, he started when I spoke.

“Rots your brain you know”

He seemed overwhelmed to see me, but I couldn’t say if he was more stable than he was when he went in. Obsessed with leaving, he was indirect and refused, obliquely, to answer my questions. He could not have spent the past few days in as much ignorance as he professed.

“It was like, until I was strapped down to a bed, I couldn’t hear my voice in my head”

Hand movements accompany everything, and a nurse watches from down the hall. If I’m to find anything out, I’m going to need a medical release, and I have couched my explanation of this to Marshall in the most flattering terms possible. I have lied by omittance, but only just. I need this information, I need to know what’s happening and asking point-blank will get me nowhere.

We walk to the front desk, where his desire to leave flames stronger. Never asking directly, he sidles up to the idea, as if he can trick the nurse into giving him a release. I put on record that we will allow him back into our home and I prompt Marshall to give us confidentiality. To my relief, that is also put in the book.

A man wanders by and brushes his afro, using a wall as if it’s a mirror. Afterwards, as we sit and talk over a game of memory, the same man comes by and tries the same trick on my hat. The fact that Marshall introduces me to his, ‘friend’, does not make me feel any more comfortable. I think that I am lucky that nonchalant is one of my skills.

Today, I called the nurse, and she told me more than anyone else so far. Though they’re giving him Olanzapine, (my detectiving, not hers), they have not diagnosed him with schizophrenia. In fact, they haven’t a diagnosis at all yet. The theory cutrrently running seems to be a mental breakdown relating from malnutrition and stress, though they are uncertain, and still doing tests.

All of this has me worried. His grandmother has phoned, and his aunt. I’m to call them later today, after the doctor has seen him. He is not coming home until I say so. I don’t want this responsibility. I don’t want to be worried about who I live with. This is not my friend, this is not an important person. This is not what I want to be thinking about.

Straight Update, oct 10th

Province To Review Newspaper Tax Exemption Policy

Ministry of Provincial Revenue – Press Release October 10, 2003

VANCOUVER – The province will review the existing policy regarding sales tax exemption for newspapers, said Provincial Revenue Minister Bill Barisoff.
“The provincial sales tax includes an exemption for books, magazines and newspapers,” Barisoff said. “One objective of this policy is to exempt from sales tax those publications that are generally considered to be newspapers.

If this objective is not being met, it needs to be changed.

“It was never our intention, or the intention of the previous government that implemented this policy in 2000, that newspapers should be taxed.

Clearly the Georgia Straight is a newspaper, yet it is not treated as a newspaper under the current policy. Accordingly, the Premier has asked me, together with the Minister of Finance, to review this policy and how it is applied, in order to solve this problem.

“We will consult with the newspaper and publication industry, and act to fix this problem,” Barisoff concluded.

Ministry of Provincial Revenue
Oct. 10, 2003

We must save the Geaorgia Straight

Hello Musical and Artistic Community,

The Georgia Straight is being fined by the Liberal Government, in a move that could potentially put them out of business. Please check out the article below. You can read more online as well, at

If you are opposed to what the Liberal Government is doing (and you should be) please let them know by sending an e-mail to the premier at

The Georgia Straight is such an important media outlet for those of us who are in the arts. We cannot afford to lose them!

Thanks for your time,

Joyelle Brandt

P.S. Please forward this e-mail to anyone who might care about this issue.

B.C. Liberals Hit Straight With Million-Dollar Fine
By Dan McLeod

The Georgia Straight is faced with the biggest threat in its 36-year history.

Following a visit from a provincial-government auditor, the Straight has been stripped of its status as a newspaper under provincial sales-tax legislation and assessed fines and penalties that will total more than one million dollars by year’s end. This fine must be paid immediately and can only be reversed through a difficult and expensive appeal process that could tie us up in court for several years to come.

(For a more detailed explanation of this bizarre misuse of power, see Questions and Answers about the B.C. Liberals’ Plan to Terminate the Straight.)

At the same time, community newspapers that are dumped on doorsteps unsolicited and laden with so many advertising flyers that a big elastic is often needed to hold them together are still considered official newspapers and therefore exempt from this legislation. Is it any coincidence that the owners of most of these papers are friends of the B.C. Liberals?

The Georgia Straight thus becomes the only newspaper in Canada to be classified as less than a newspaper under provincial legislation. No other newspaper need fear such a threat. Because of the Straight’s uniqueness, the Liberals have found a way to target us without affecting any other paper in the province. In other words, this has all the earmarks of a witch-hunt.

Appeals of the crushing million-dollar assessment must first go to the Minister of Provincial Revenue. Chances of success at this stage are very slim, so our best chance for any justice is to take the matter to the B.C. Supreme Court. The Liberal minister, however, has the power to hold up the matter for months, even years. By that time, the Georgia Straight could be out of business.

The ruling harks back to the Straight’s beginnings, when we were prosecuted frequently under a wide assortment of trumped-up charges. In 1967, a crusading mayor and chief prosecutor conspired to use the city licence department to close down the paper. When that attempt was overruled by the Supreme Court, they had us thrown in jail for criminal libel, a charge that had only been used twice in the history of Confederation. And on and on it went, until the harassment ended around 1972.

Using the Revenue Ministry to close down a newspaper is a ploy well-known to political leaders such as Gordon Campbell. For example, it is documented that Richard Nixon used the IRS to harass political opponents. As the only independent newspaper in Vancouver–and, indeed, the only local newspaper that consistently publishes articles critical of the government–we find this move not only discriminatory in the extreme but a politically motivated attempt by the government to silence one of its harshest critics.

It is also a direct attack on all the arts and cultural and business life of the city. The Straight is appealing to arts and entertainment organizations, nonprofit groups and charities, as well as small-business owners, to speak out against this decision and help by swearing affidavits in our defence if and when it comes time to take the government to court. If a court battle does ensue, we intend to fight vigorously and to the bitter end.

The need to fight this battle would stop now if we were to abandon our Time Out listings guide. This we refuse to do. The guide is a free public service that is based on one of this paper’s founding principles: to encourage and foster the growth of a healthy and lively arts and cultural scene in our city.

By successfully closing the Straight, Gordon Campbell will have destroyed the only independent media outlet left in this city. He can then take credit for finishing the job that his namesake mayor, Tom Campbell, began more than 36 years ago. It appears that driving our province’s social structures into a ditch is not good enough for the premier. Now he must silence the only newspaper that dares to criticize his mean-spirited policies. Making him accountable for his actions is our journalistic duty, even though our very existence is at stake.