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The Portland Hotel Society gets a stick for extravagant spending

Candace Plattor
Mar 21st, 2014

I just couldn’t let this story go by without writing about it again. The long and short of it is that the higher (no pun intended) authorities of the Portland Hotel Society (PHS) and several of their own Board of Directors are stepping down, as ordered by the BC Government, in order to avoid receivership.

So what does this mean? Well, according to the government, in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, PHS received a cool $21 million in funding. Of that money, we are now being shown that $2.8 million was spent on administration costs and a whopping $15.3 million on employee-related expenses, with an astonishing $358,724 spent on staff travel expenses—such as going on holiday to Disneyland. What?

I simply cannot wrap my head around this.

And all of this was going on while so many of the people they claim to have served in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) suffered the miserable life of active addiction.

Rob Ford and Jimmy Kimmel: Appalling and odd

Candace Plattor
Mar 4th, 2014

Oh no, not again—Rob Ford continues to crave ever more publicity, and this time it was on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

And last night Ford shared this less-than-prestigious distinction with none other than Gonzo, all the way from Sesame Street—what an honour!

Thanks for nothing, Jimmy.

What is it about Rob Ford that he simply won’t allow himself to see what a buffoon he’s become? He truly seems to think that people are actually interested in meeting and getting to know him as a person, rather than for the endless jokes he provides material-starved late night TV hosts—not to mention the ever-blackening eye he keeps giving Toronto and, by extension, Canada as a whole.

And this time was no different. Silly me, for thinking it might have been.

Even the not-funny schtick they did together to promote the show, where Ford pretends to arrive on the set a day early, paints him as an absent-minded, senseless chump. By making one disastrous decision after another, Ford continues to give my beloved country shiner after shiner.

The sad story of Alex Radita

Candace Plattor
Feb 24th, 2014


Sometimes I really don’t understand this crazy world we live in—or the rules we implement that make it even crazier.

I am simply appalled that a 15-year-old boy who was starved, abused, and deprived of medical attention—all at the hands of his parents—was allowed to live with them in the first place.

Some of you may have heard Alex’s very sad tale, as it’s had a little (way too little, in my opinion) coverage on the news lately. The bulk of this horrible story took place in Calgary, but it actually began in the Metro Vancouver area many years before.

When Alex Radita was five years old, his family lived in Surrey, BC. He was diagnosed with Diabetes 1 but was left untreated because his parents claimed they did not trust that diagnosis. In 2003, he was apprehended from his home by Surrey Child and Family Services due to the brutal consequences of severe malnourishment, as well as the neglectful lack of treatment for his diabetes. In 2005, a clearly misguided judge ruled to have him returned to his parents.

The rest, as they say, is history: this poor boy was so badly neglected and abused that he died ten years later, in May 2013.

Crack pipe vending machines in Vancouver

Candace Plattor
Feb 18th, 2014

So now Vancouver has crack pipe vending machines—have you heard?

Actually, maybe you didn’t hear. Even if you live in the Vancouver area, you may not have heard. It seems to me that this was on the news, local and nationally, for about two nights and then it was not covered anymore—and has now been virtually forgotten about.

But somehow, I am unable to forget about it.

According to those scanty news reports, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has approved the Portland Hotel in the Downtown Eastside to sport a newly transformed sandwich vending machine now containing crack pipes on their premises. There is another one residing somewhere else in the Downtown Eastside—that’s all I heard about the other location on the broadcasts I saw. These vending machines stock clean crack pipes that addicts can purchase for 25 cents each. (I can’t help but wonder if these machines are supervised 24 hours a day or whether even kids can buy a few for mere quarters at a time, perhaps just for a lark to start with—maybe even your kids or your children’s kids.)

And I also have to wonder, whose bright idea is this?

Why Valentine's Day is the best day to take care of you

Candace Plattor
Feb 12th, 2014

Ah, Valentine's Day, the fantasy-filled holiday that comes right after we've managed to get ourselves through another year of Christmas and New Year's Eve!

Have you ever wondered whose bright idea it was to have those three holidays in a row? For many people, the 3-month period of December through February can be the most difficult and depressing time of the year, and this is especially true for those whose significant relationships are problematic. For people with addictive behaviours, as well as those who love them, their most important relationships are also often the most troublesome and rocky.


Philip Seymour Hoffman: How many more do we have to lose?

Candace Plattor
Feb 4th, 2014

Photo credit: Reuters/Max Rossi

Seriously, I don’t know how many more articles like this I can write about celebrities dying of addiction.

Along with everyone else who knew Philip Seymour Hoffman’s work, I mourn the loss of a gigantic talent. He was one of my favorite actors and I’ve seen most of his films. Of all the celebrity tributes I’ve heard about him in the past couple of days, the one that stands out for me is Rob Lowe’s—Lowe, a recovering addict/alcoholic himself, spoke of feeling angry about a number of things, not the least of which is that addiction is, in his words, “an equal opportunity killer.”

Many people talking about Hoffman today are using the term “speechless” to describe what they’re feeling. Although I can understand what they mean, I find that I am not speechless at all.

I have a lot to say.

Justin Bieber's sad enablers

Candace Plattor
Jan 24th, 2014

Most of us knew it was only a matter of time.

Not only were we hearing story after story about Justin’s “antics”—a media description that only served to minimize the severity of his actions—but those very actions were becoming more and more bizarre. Before today’s arrest for driving under the influence and resisting arrest, he was pitching raw eggs at his neighbor’s house causing thousands of dollars worth of damage—not to mention a sizable stash of illegal drugs that were found in his home.

Do we have to wonder how this happened—or is it finally becoming clear that  enabling addicts only keeps the addiction going? How many more examples, public or private, do we need?

When we have addicted loved ones in our lives, we also have a choice to make—will we let them get away with really bad (and sometimes downright dangerous) behavior, or will we step in and make the boundaries clear? Do we care enough about the addicts we love to hold them accountable, or do we continue to be people-pleasers and yes-men, making excuses and turning our eyes away from what is really going on?

Whose denial causes the most damage—the addict’s or the enabler’s?

New Year's Resolutions? Try Intentions Instead

Candace Plattor
Dec 30th, 2013

In the immortal words of John Lennon, another year is over and a new one’s just begun.

Isn’t it interesting how we, as a society, agree that this is the time to give ourselves and our lives a complete and total new makeover? We have decided that at this time of the year we will revisit the year we’re leaving behind, dissecting it to see what worked for us and what didn’t. And on top of that, we need to make sure that we meet all of our “resolutions” quickly and perfectly or else we have failed – no pressure there!

While there is nothing wrong with re-assessing yourself from time to time and exploring changes you would like to make, the problems come when you allow yourself to over- identify with the “hype” of the season. It is one thing to make the overblown and often unrealistic New Year’s resolutions that you think you should make at this time of year, and quite a different process to take stock of where you are, in present time, to see what you might like to be doing differently so that you can live your best life.


Rob Ford and how we are enabling vs. helping him

Candace Plattor
Nov 18th, 2013

Unfortunately, Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford has become quite the laughingstock. He’s the guy people love to shoot down at the water cooler—and anyone who watches late night TV is aware that of the comedic fodder he’s been supplying the hosts for far too long. I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering how this situation has gotten so out of hand, giving Canada a huge black eye on the international landscape.


The way I see it is that this sort of fiasco doesn’t happen overnight. Although I don’t know him personally, my best guess is that Mr. Ford has some major entitlement issues—he feels he can do and say whatever he likes, whenever he wants to do and say it, with no realistic grasp of the repercussions or why they should be leveled against him. Instead, he believes that he is entitled to live his life this way.

The secret of self-respect

Candace Plattor
Nov 15th, 2013

Well-known TV icon Dr. Phil is revered by many, and repelled by others. Personally, I find that his down-home country “charm” is often marred by a disturbing arrogance that he, at times, spews onto his guests. Although I agree that sometimes only speaking our truth will do, I also believe that doing this compassionately will go a lot farther with most people than a display of abusive entitlement—especially for the sake of TV ratings.

However, that being said, sometimes Dr. Phil comes up with wonderful sayings and slogans, such as his classic “How’s THAT been workin’ for ya?” It’s a great question, designed to keep us on track in our lives—because if the way we’ve been doing something isn’t working, it could very well be time to try another way.

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