February 19, 2017

Phở Tintin in Nanaimo

Phở places have become ubiquitous in MetroVancouver and Jeem and G. G. Blynn were pleasantly surprised when friends from the John Harris Gallery took us to one such establishment in Nanaimo.

Phở Tintin is located in a strip mall somewhere in this Vancouver Island city.  On the day of our visit the snow was piled up and much more was on its way, but not before Jim and Sherry made their escape to a more westerly locale.

The restaurant is delightfully pleasant and inviting, on the inside (on the outside, not so much). The clumsy clutter and kitschy-ness of most Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver is not present at Phở Tintin. Not at all.

And it's exceptionally clean.

On the day of our visit Phở Tintin was not busy, due to snowfall warnings, but it's normally busy through the day and especially for lunch.

Phở Tintin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

There's the usual menu with some local variations on the traditional theme, and a good number of vegetarian, or near-vegetarian dishes. The soup was hot and fragrant, though hot chili peppers were not initially provided with the sprouts.

The spring rolls were smallish to what I'm accustomed, and possibly a wee bit over cooked, but flavourful and delicious just the same.

All in all, Phở Tintin is a wonderful place, and unlike many phở  restaurants, it takes credit and debit cards for payment. We'll return if ever we can find it without our friendly guides. But then again, that's what friends are for.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

February 17, 2017

The Crow & Gate Pub in Nanaimo ~ in the snow

We've been here before. The Crow and Gate. BC's first pub. And it's almost reason enough to come to Nanaimo.

This time, there was snow, a lot of snow. But our friends from the wonderful  John Harris Gallery in Nanaimo made sure we arrived safely.

The Crow and Gate is interesting for several reasons: the lack of french fries from a delightful menu of honest pub fare is one, and the absence of any television or video screens is another. The music is muted, the service friendly and the variety of refreshment options exceptional.

There are several wood burning fireplaces which felt heavenly after the journey from Vancouver. Unfortunately, Jeem was asked to leave after he attempted to stoke the fire, but that meant an extra pint for your faithful scribe.

We should come again. And so should we all. Minus the snow next time.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

February 15, 2017

Seaside Village Cafe in Horseshoe Bay

Last week, the whole gang was off to Vancouver Island. Sherry had a reading with Theatre One in Nanaimo, Jim was planning on surfing in Tofino, and BT Mendelbaum (disbarred) and G. G. Blynn were along for the ride. As usual.

First stop is Horseshoe Bay where we await our ferry, and it's coffee time. Seeking out something better than Starbuckian is always top of mind. Here in Horseshoe Bay, the Seaside Village Cafe is a possibility.

Small and friendly, it is pretty much the opposite of the corporate coffee shops. The barista knows her customers, mainly locals, and there's a simple pleasure to be found in listening in on the conversations.

Freshly pressed juice is an option, as are the usual pastries and a few other breakie type items.

Seaside Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

The coffee was strong and comforting. As were the people around us. But the ferry ride beckons, and we were off. Perhaps in more ways than one.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

February 07, 2017

The Wealth Gap in British Columbia

Something has been happening on Canada's left coast and it isn't fair.

A small number of people in BC have become wealthier, the rising cost of living (especially of housing) and a trend towards lower wages have combined to increase the gap between the rich and poor significantly.

In fact, BC is now the most unequal province in Canada.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows that the BC Liberals "decade of tax cuts" and continuing "regressive changes to the provincial tax system" helped to "exacerbate growing income inequality in BC."

At the beginning of the century the wealthiest ten percent saw their earnings "spike" while the lowest fifty percent saw their earnings drop. And this after the BC Liberals under Gordon Campbell introduced tax changes that benefited top earners.

The trend has continued under Christy Clark, indeed the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition says the income gap in BC is growing at a faster rate than most of the other provinces in Canada, noting that the "average household income of the top one percent in BC has increased by thirty-six percent since the mid-2000s." The most recent available data from Statistics Canada shows that the richest ten percent in this province own more that fifty percent of all the wealth in British Columbia.

Christy Clark, our smiling photo-opportunist premier, doesn't mention the growing polarization within the province, but her regressive tax policies continue to exacerbate the problem.

Something isn't right here.

Graphs by Press Progress. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray. 

January 24, 2017

The job of the Canadian prime minister ...

The PM speaking to reporters in Calgary after Cabinet. CBC
"It is the job of the Canadian prime minister 
to have a constructive working relationship 
with the President of the United States. 
That's exactly what I intend to do."

Well yes, maybe that's part of it. Working relationships with all our trading  partners, including the US, might be a good idea. But really? 

Shouldn't "the job of the Canadian prime minister" be to look after the interests of Canadians? To uphold the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? And maybe, just maybe, the job of the Canadian prime minster should be to stand up for Canada in the face of bullies and tyrants. To choose citizens over corporations, the environment over pipelines, truth and reconciliation instead of racism and misogyny.

Perhaps I'm confused, but I always thought my prime minister should stand on guard for Canada. Apparently not.

By Jim Murray. Copyright 2017.