The Steve Burgess Guide to 2017: S to Z

Ed Sheeran can’t win, Site C is a no-win situation, and no one can win against Trump.

By Steve Burgess 22 Dec 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

The calendar, the alphabet, the planet — the end is definitely near for two or more of them. Final instalment in the Tyee’s year-end review.



It’s been a bad year for old celebrity dudes, but so far the big guy has escaped any serious allegations. Fingers crossed.

Sea Lion

Clowns in sewers? Meh. The breakout horror film of 2017 was filmed in Steveston.

Ed Sheeran

Attacked by Game of Thrones fans, snubbed by the Grammys. Why do people hate that nice young Ed Sheeran? Is it because he’s in love with your body? Or is it because he's a major pop star who apparently takes his dates to all-you-can-eat joints?

Site C

You’re the premier of B.C. You face two choices on the Site C dam project. Giving the green light means you destroy the Peace River Valley, earn the enmity of environmentalists everywhere, and commit the government to a project described by a government agency as massively expensive and unnecessary. Cancelling means you kiss goodbye to billions of sunk costs and tens of thousands of construction jobs, while saying no to a supply of relatively clean hydroelectric power in favour of other renewable energy projects that, while admirable in theory, are not currently in the works and face their own logistical issues. Say yes, and it means lawsuits. Say no? Lawsuits.

Horgan said yes. Result: lawsuits. Also abuse, opprobrium, calumny, obloquy, vituperation, and contempt, over and above the usual volume of premier-related vilification.

And people fight to get the premier’s job. It’s like lining up to be Tased.


2017 was incredibly slimy. Slime was everywhere you looked, covering everything and everybody. Anyone with an internet connection could easily find the source of the slime. The recipe usually included glue, baking soda, water, and food colouring. Kids love it. It’s fun! (Disambiguation: For Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump, see below.)


Imagine you’re reading a book on, say, Bozo the Clown, and there’s an index. Under “P” you might find “Pie, in face;” “R” might have listings for “Red nose, large,” and “Red hair, pointy.” Then you look under “B,” and it’s pretty much the whole book: “Bozo the Clown, birth of; oversized shoes of; distinctive laugh of; TV show of; legacy of;” etc.

That’s why there is no “Trump” listing in this 2017 review. Even on the internet, there just isn’t enough space.


Tourism is important to our economy, and it’s nice to know Seth Rogen is out there pitching for us. As one of the people behind the outrageous AMC series Preacher, the Vancouver-born actor, writer and producer has clearly not forgotten his hometown. In one scene this season, a character named Cassidy, a drug-addled Irish vampire, discusses the merits of Vancouver as a possible hideout. “There’s plenty of meth,” Cassidy says, “and the hiking is good.”

Coming soon to a souvenir coffee mug at YVR.


Back in the day, it took secret White House recording systems to blow open a major political scandal. But that was then. Say what you like about Richard Nixon, no ever called him a tweet-spewing imbecile.



It’s down! So there’s no excuse for not finding the three jobs you need to pay your share of the rent you are currently splitting with four roommates.


Vacancy Tax

2017’s version of the foreign buyer’s tax. Maybe this one will work.

Vision Vancouver

The fall byelection/park board vote suggests that Mayor Robertson and his party are in serious jeopardy. There are people who say Vision is too pro-developer, but if you believe that’s why they’re in danger, you may have overlooked the fact that the other main party is the NPA. No, it says here that Robertson and Vision are in trouble because they are committed to cycling infrastructure and it makes motorists bat-shit crazy. The next mayor will be the candidate who promises to replace the Roundhouse with a 30-storey parking garage and make cyclists pay for it.



Among the more devilish aspects of the new TBR (Trump-Based Reality) is how difficult it can be to attack the man politically. Trump got elected by saying he was going to build a giant wall along the Mexican border. Mexico would pay for it. The proposal managed to hit that Trump sweet spot by being both hateful and ludicrous. A year after the election there is no wall nor any serious indications that there will be one.

But how do you attack him on it? Complain that Trump has failed to deliver on his moronic, racist campaign plank? Claim you could do better, if you were inclined to do something so stupendously idiotic?

And that’s how you build a dog whistle. Mexico may not be paying for it, but over 60 million Americans bought it.

Harvey Weinstein

You know, he too played a huge part in kicking off one of the most important social movements of 2017. Perhaps we can send him a thank-you card, as soon as we find out where to deliver the subpoenas.


Are you?



You can say it doesn’t start with “X,” but I disagree. The people who made a difference in B.C. this year were the people who got out and marked one.



As horrible as famine can be, at least a famine is easy to explain. There is drought, crops have failed, please help. Situations like Yemen are worse. Children are starving with little help in sight. There is civil war. The Saudis are blockading Yemen and no nation wants to piss off their oil-supplying buddies. But more than that — the Yemenese Houthi rebels are backed by Iran and Hezbollah. Even if you hate Saudi Arabia, it is hard to see the other side as the good guys. Aid workers have been forced into hiding as the war rages. Save the Children reports that 130 children are starving to death every day, denied sustenance by the richest nation in the world.



At last Robert Mugabe resigned after decades of tyrannical misrule. Imagine how bad things must be when people are dancing in the streets because the longtime president has been replaced by a guy whose nickname is “The Crocodile.”

To put it another way, think how you’ll celebrate in 2018 if Mike Pence becomes President.  [Tyee]

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