Mar 3, 2019

The BC Pro-Rep Debate

In partial fulfillment of POLS 344. 

In December 2018, the Province of British Columbia wrapped up it's third referendum on electoral reform since 2005. The campaign for change was ultimately unsuccessful, but prior to the close of polls, I was able to sit down separately with two veteran stalwarts from either side of the debate. 

Dennis Pilon received his Bachelor (Sociology/History) and Masters (History) from Simon Fraser University and his PhD from York University (Politics). In 2005/06 he was the Canada Research Chair Postdoctoral Fellow in Canadian Studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. From 2006 to 2011 he was an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Victoria. In 2011 he was hired as an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at York.
His research has focused primarily on issues of democratization and democratic reform in western countries in both contemporary and historical contexts. His published work includes articles in the Canadian Political Science Review, the Journal of Canadian StudiesStudies in Political Economy, the Journal of Parliamentary and Political LawInroads, and the Socialist Studies Bulletin (now Socialist Studies), reviews in the Canadian Journal of Political Science, the Canadian Parliamentary ReviewSocialist StudiesLabour/Le Travail, and BC Studies, as well as reports for the Law Commission of Canada, the Centre for Social Justice, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. In 2007 he published The Politics of Voting: Reforming Canada’s Electoral System, in 2009 co-edited (with Michael Howlett and Tracy Summerville) British Columbia Politics and Government, and in 2013 published Wrestling with Democracy: Voting Systems as Politics in the Twentieth Century West
Over the past decade, Professor Pilon has done considerable public speaking and media work commenting on many aspects of politics with reporters from print, radio and television, particularly on topics relating to elections and political parties. He is presently a member of the National Advisory Board of Fair Vote Canada, a citizens’ group focused on gaining more proportional methods of voting for Canadian elections, and is a member of the editorial board of Canadian Dimension magazine. He has also acted as a consultant on election issues for various legal firms, political parties, trade unions, community groups, and the Auditor General of Canada. 
Aside from all things political, his interests include distance running, record collecting, vintage clothes, science fiction, and his husband Dann, daughter Ryann, and son Jessie. He also writes a music blog at 

>> Interview with Denis Pilon 


Bill Tieleman is president of West Star Communications, a strategy and communications consulting firm, providing services for labour, business, non-profits and governments for the past 13 years. Previously, he was the communications director in the B.C. Premier’s Office and at the BC Federation of Labour. 
Bill is a former columnist with The Tyee and 24 Hours. He regularly comments on TV, radio, print and Internet media outlets. 
Most recently Bill was Strategist for Fight HST, a grassroots organization he started with former Premier Bill Vander Zalm and others, that successfully overturned the Harmonized Sales Tax in British Columbia through a citizens’ initiative petition and binding referendum.
Bill holds a masters degree in political science from UBC.

>> Interview with Bill Tieleman


This interview is previously unpublished. It's appearing here first. 

Jun 7, 2015

Repurposed Wii Fit Board Hack for Mac

Wii Fit, and the Wii Balance Board were an interesting band wagon on to which I jumped early.

The idea of exploring entirely new ways to utilize video game consoles, beyond the couch-headset-twinsticks regularity has always been an attractive one to me.

Wii Fit had potential. The entire Wii Fit franchise, Balance Board and all, however, fell early to the raging bull of wearable fitness trackers, all spitting stats to cloud services, spreadsheets, and smartphones.

It’s not as if Nintendo never had a chance in this market. In fact, I’d argue it was well placed with a health monitoring device that also assisted the user in tracking all sorts of different exercises and stretches. The Wii Fit service was not a one-stop-shop exercise/health regime. We put ours in the living room next to the treadmill. Using a treadmill with a WiiMote in your pocket, playing Wii Fit games previously requiring you to walk/run in place, greatly enhanced the experience and the fitness level, for instance. It also made spending time on the treadmill significantly more appealing for someone like me, who responds well to gamified tasks.

The fatal flaw made by Nintendo was in locking data down hard within its own limited ecosystem. Monopolistic mindset remains the largest barrier against success of any online service. The idea that the consumer should require no service provided by any company besides your company, is prehistoric in an age where Apple and Android marketplaces carry a combined 3 million applications.

Mysteriously, Nintendo remains steadfast against allowing users to migrate any of their data to third party developers. This is particularly fatal when combined with a comparatively low-frequency reiteration/update schedule. Competitors outpaced Nintendo in function within months of release. No person serious about monitoring their vital statistics will rely on a living room game console as the sole system of record and review. At some point, they’re going to want to see that data on their smartphone or tablet. They’ll want to get it into a spreadsheet in order to transfer it to Evernote, or some other consolidation app.

The mistake so often made by corporations at this stage, is to make their product/service more difficult for other corporations to interact with. The piece they miss, is that rather than aiding consumers to engage with other products/services, they’re actually enabling the consumer to continue using their own service longer than they might otherwise do once the more shinier new app comes along.

Nintendo has self-isolated every ecosystem it’s ever created, and each new release dies of strangulation over a period shorter than the release previous.

Wii Fit is still fun to use, it just doesn’t play with all the other fun toys out there right now, and so people forget about it.

The Balance Board scale in particular, is a marvellous piece of hardware, hobbled only by a lack of wifi capability. This is unfortunate, as it means even a jailbroken Wii Balance Board wouldn’t be capable of auto-syncing your morning weight-stats to the shiny cloud-service graphs displayed on your tablet or smartphone. However, it is bluetooth capable, meaning as long as you can live with having to manipulate a little data manually on occasion, it’s now possible to repurpose that lonely little Wii Balance Board stuffed behind your TV into high-sensitivity digital scale with a build-quality that’ll outlast anything else on the market.

If you’re a Mac user, WiiScale [] accomplishes this task cleanly without any bells or whistles. If you’ve stopped using Wii Fit altogether, and have no need to pair with a Wii/Wii U console, you can set WiiScale to launch automatically when you turn the Balance Board on.

You step on the scale, it takes your weight measurement, and auto-shoots it to a .CSV file, to a URL, or directly to your Fit Bit account.

All that potential. All they had to do was share. Failure to do so has made the hardware more valuable separate from the Wii Fit service than with it.

Aug 28, 2014

Retron 5: Hardware Review

Finally got my hands on a Retron 5 after supply problems from Hyperkin's first shipment led to quick sell-ours across the continent. 

Here's my raw video review of the hardware:

Jul 12, 2014

A New Life for Old IPod Docks

It was getting pretty tough to justify hanging on to all my old 30-pin iPod docks. This must be how hoarding begins - desire to be a socially responsible consumer drives us to thumb our nose at the obselecence designed into our modern devices.

With each tiny iteration Apple makes, an entire sub-industry is thrown into reshuffle - and we wonder why we're running out of space to put all the plastic we produce.

Anyhow... I digress. Long story short... I've still got a pile of pre-lightening, 30-pin audio docks kicking around, not to mention an alarm clock.

I was scouring the discount tables at Staples today, (as I'm prone to do more than once per week - Staples in the process of ejecting itself from the retail-gaming business, and the clearance deals are ridiculous) and I stumbled upon this little 30-pin Bluetooth Audio Receiver from Aluretek.

If you recognize the name of that company, it's because you may have come across the comparatively low-cost e-readers they pushed out to market early, before tablets drew a lot of attention away from those devices.

In any case, I picked up this little gem, regular $39.99 for under $15 bucks, and I wish there had been more than one left on that table.

You plug it in to your dock, connect your phone, or other bluetooth enabled device, and your old incompatible dock is now a wireless-bluetooth enabled dock.

And the best part is, if you're using your phone for the audio, it's no longer hard-locked to the dock like the old iPods were.

Highly recommended - especially at a sale price.

Jun 14, 2014

PG Retro Game Store Struggling

Great piece by the local TV station here, covering the difficulties faced by the owner of a new retro game store, who's found himself captured by a city bylaw meant for pawn ships - which requires him to store new stock for 30 days before he can put it on the shelf.

Apr 18, 2014

CLC 2014 Candidate for President Primer

Are you a first time-deligate to, or interested observer of the 2014 CLC Convention?

You're in luck. 

For the first time in nearly a decade, a real, live election will be held for president of the Canadian labour movement. 

If you're a delegate to this year's convention in Montreal, you'll get a chance to cast your vote for one of these three candidates. 

Check back here over the coming days for additional updates and occassional analysis on this exciting race.

But for the particularly uninitiated, we'll start with a brief quick-glance primer at all three candidates.

Most of the information is compiled from the official websites of each candidate. 


Canadian Labour Congress
2014 Convention
candidate primer

Ken Georgetti
Hassan Husseini
Hassan Yussuff

Resume Highlights

  • Incumbent CLC president since 1999

  • Elected BC Fed President at 34 yrs of age - served 1986-1999

  • Elected president of USW Local 480 (as a plumber-pipefitter at Cominco in Trail BC) at 29 yrs of age


  • Ferne Downey: President

  • Joseph Maloney: Vice President, Western Canada

  • Paul Moist: President, CUPE National

  • Dave Ritchie: Canadian General Vice President

  • Joseph S. Mancinelli: Int'l Vice President & Regional Manager, Central & Eastern Canada

  • James Clancy: National President
  • Larry Brown: National Sec-Treas

Teamsters Canada
  • Robert Bouvier: President

  • Paul Meinema: National President, UFCW Canada
  • Anouk Collett: Quebec Reg. Dir.

  • Nick Worhaug: Canadian Director

  • Ken Newman: National Director
  • Stephen Hunt: Dist. 3 Dir.
  • Daniel Roy: Dist. 5 Dir.
  • Marty Warren: Dist. 6 Dir.

Campaign Slogans

  • Work Together, Win Together, The Choice is Simple

Platform Highlights

  • Continue improving Labour's image with "Together Fairness Works" campaign

  • Continue implemeting the "anti-raiding" protocol to maintain harmony amongst affiliates

  • Continue coordinating labour's intervention in court cases, shaping labour law for generations

Resume Highlights

  • Negotiator for Public Service Alliance of Canada

  • Masters Degree in Law

  • Member of UNIFOR

  • Former Political Action & Campaigns Rep. for CLC

  • Immigrated from Beirut, Lebanon


  • Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council

  • Guelf & District Labour Council

  • Asian Canadian Labour Alliance (ACLA)

  • Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (Ontario)

  • Toronto District Council
  • Local 1281
  • Local 4207
  • Local 4000
  • Local 4600

  • Local 567
  • Local 2025

  • Ottawa Area Council
  • Union of Canadian Transportation Employees
  • Customs & Immigration Union

Campaign Slogans

  • Equality, Diversity, Democracy

Platform Highlights

  • Reduce Presidents Exec Assistants from 4 FTEs to 1

  • Change President pay and compensation

  • Shift savings to field services

  • Facilitate international "worker-to-worker" interaction

  • Work cooperatively with other CLC officers and staf

  • Does not see president as a "CEO of the labour movement"

  • Open an online discussion with Canadian Council and the Labour Councils on Labour's Program in advance of the 2015 Federal Election

  • Develop and present an "independent" vision to political parties and politicians

  • Place equity issues at the heart of CLC work

  • Restore Equality caucuses, and leadership spaces for equality reps.

  • Place CLC at forefront of social justice issues and campaigns.

Resume Highlights

  • Incumbent CLC Sec-Treas since 2002

  • Serving 4th term as president of Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA)

  • Heavy Truck Mechanic

  • CAW member (now UNIFOR)

  • Immigrated from Guyana


  • National Executive

  • John Cartwright: President, Toronto and York Region Labour Council

Campaign Slogans

  • Different Leadership, New Results

  • Leadership for a Bold Labour Movement

  • Leading Labour to a Bright Future

Platform Highlights

  • Build activism

  • Provide bold leadership

  • trust members to undertake tough, complex battles while we fight for more jobs

  • Connect CLC more closely to crucial struggles

  • Create and era of respect for officers and staff

Sep 2, 2013

I miss Resetti, *sniff*– do I hate myself?

He was such a prick… but I miss him… Resetti