Monday, September 27, 2010

Conservative fiscal responsibility? An oxymoron.

Just as a matter of curiosity I went back a few years and took a look at the annual contributions to the national debt. Then I overlaid the party in power at the time.

83/84 was the last of the Trudeau/Turner years, followed by Mulroney/Campbell. During Mulroney’s reign annual debt contributions grew by nearly 100%.

In late ‘93 Chretien came into power and with Paul Martin began to turn things around. By 2005-06 annual debt had been reduced by close to 50% – almost to pre-Mulroney levels – and a $13 billion surplus was on the books, which would have reduced it even further.

Now we have the Harper Conservatives in charge, and guess what’s happened. The $13 billion surplus has been spent and the annual debt contribution is now in excess of $50 billion a year, far surpassing even Brian Mulroney’s profligacy.

And they have the gall to represent themselves as being the best custodians of Canada’s financial health? One can only laugh at the self-delusion.

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Darwin contender

I’m always suspicious of those Darwin Awards that periodically cross the blogosphere and end up in my inbox, but here’s a real case that deserves special consideration as a contender. According to the Seattle Times, this happened in Dover, N.H.

A New Hampshire high school student shocked so severely in shop class that his heart stopped beating is suing his teacher, the school district and the city of Dover.

Kyle Dubois and his parents claim teacher Thomas Kelley did not warn Dubois and other students of the dangers of the electrical demonstration cords in their electrical trades class.

On March 11, Dubois attached an electrical clamp to one nipple while another student attached another clamp to the other. A third student plugged in the cord.

Dubois was critically injured.

The New Hampshire Union Leader says Dubois' suit contends he suffered permanent brain damage.

Kelley resigned from his teaching position about a month after the incident. He declined to comment on the lawsuit.

I expect the brain damage may have been a pre-existing condition.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rob Ford – just 1 of 45

Rob FordIf there was ever any doubt about Rob Ford’s credentials to become mayor of Toronto, the fact that he is being endorsed by his friend Jimbo Flaherty should quickly put that to rest.

As an outsider I can stand back and smile condescendingly as the good burghers of Canada’s largest city all but acclaim Ford amidst the chorus of calls for sanity from the main stream media (except for the Sun, of course). But having seen Ottawa’s Larry O’Brien experience up close (which has many similarities, including a Sun endorsement, if I recall correctly) it’s worth remembering that Rob Ford has only 1 vote out of 45 on council.

So unless he’s a helluva salesman and can convince at least 22 fellow councillors he has the right answers he’s just going to be another angry white guy with a pulpit, doing little permanent damage other than providing the rest of Canada with 4 more years of entertainment at Toronto’s expense.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How not to impress the boss

From today’s Toronto Sun, online edition. (http://www.torontosun.com/comment/2010/09/17/15388356.html)

On September 5, 2010, a column by Ezra Levant contained false statements about George Soros and his conduct as a young teenager in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

The management of Sun Media wishes to state that there is no basis for the statements in the column and they should not have been made.

Sun Media, this newspaper and Ezra Levant retract the statements made in the column and unreservedly apologize to Mr. Soros for the distress and harm this column may have caused to him.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Well aren’t we sensitive.

Last Sunday, Ian Davey quipped on CTV’s Question Period that “It was once said about the Toronto Sun that it’s a newspaper for people who can’t read.”

Well that prompted a flurry of indignation from Sun editorialists and reporters (of which there are some apparently, when they’re not watching CTV) who failed to see the humour in Davey’s comment.

But instead of being a 1-day wonder, the story is still being reported in the Sun media empire days after the dastardly deed.

Of course the one common element is that in every story and editorial Davey is prominently linked to Michael Ignatieff, even though he hasn’t worked for him for about a year.

Today Lorrie Goldstein, in an open letter to Ian Davey also made the requisite link to Ignatieff, but at least contributed this bit of humour to the discussion.

“The Globe and Mail is read by people who think they are running the country but aren’t. The Toronto Star is read by people who know they should be running the country, but aren’t. The Ottawa Citizen is read by people who are running the country and don’t know how to. And the Sun is read by people who don’t give a damn who’s running the country, as long as she has big boobs.”

Now isn’t that a LOT better than being told you can’t read?

Welcome to Faux North.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

“Scrap the registry” hypocrisy

The Toronto Sun reports today that the Conservatives are mounting a targeted ad campaign against those MPs who might vote against Hoeppner’s long-gun registry private members bill.

The huge 10-by-20 foot billboards will go up in the key ridings early this week, calling on constituents to pressure the local MPs to vote with the government and support Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner's private member's bill to scrap the registry later this month.

(I wonder who’s paying for those – Candice Hoeppner? The Conservative Party? Canadian taxpayers?)

Party deputy director Fred DeLorey said, in support of the initiative:

 "This will be a part of our plan to encourage the 20 Opposition MPs to keep their word to their constituents. These MPs need to be reminded they work for their constituents who want the long-gun registry scrapped, not their Ottawa bosses who want to keep it."

The hypocrisy is palpable. Is John Baird “working for his constituents” in Ottawa-West Nepean when he stands to vote for this bill? How about Pierre Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton)? Or Alice Wong (Richmond, BC)? There are numerous Con MPs representing major urban areas where the majority of the population has, and will continue to support the long-gun registry, and those Con MPs are most certainly NOT “working for their constituents”.

"Whatever the leader said, I stand behind what the leader said,"

toewsThis according to Vic Toews as reported in the Winnipeg Free Press. Reporting on the Quebec Conservative hockey arena fiasco (to be named the Stephen Harper Coliseum?), Toews is further quoted as saying "Manitoba has received, in fact … more than its fair share"  of infrastructure spending.

I don’t particularly care who got more or less of MY money (for it is, in fact, my money (and yours) the feds are throwing around to seed the Conservative vote garden) but that they are getting any of it at all – especially for commercial/professional sports facilities.

But the real point of this is that, yet again, another Conservative Minister has publicly admitted that he cannot or will not think for himself, but instead just blindly follows the orders of the supreme authority.

Say what you will about the so-called dysfunction in the Liberal and NDP caucuses where individual members sometimes take a principled stand on an issue, or publically disagree with their leadership, but I for one would much rather have thinking MPs in Parliament than just a bunch of bobbleheads doing what the boss tells them. That’s how Kim Jong Il operates and we’ve all seen how well that’s worked out.

The voters in Provencher should think hard about that come election time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What values?

This morning the Ottawa Citizen reports Majority of Canadians say Muslims don't share their values.

The poll, conducted earlier this week by L├ęger Marketing in Canada and Caravan in the United States, found that 55 per cent of Canadian respondents and 50.3 per cent of Americans disagreed when asked whether "Muslims share our values."

This is such a breathtakingly stupid poll as to be laughable. What values are we talking about? When you broad-brush the question to that degree (i.e. lumping all “Muslim” values into a single question) you are going to get similar, if not more extreme results on just about any subject.

Ask mainstream Canadians if the “Conservative Party of Canada share our values” and you’ll get 70% or so who disagree.

Ask Canadians if the Bloc Quebecois shares their values, and you’ll get even higher disagreement numbers.

Finally, since the topic is religion, ask Canadians if the “fundamentalist Christian right share our values” and I’d be willing to wager the results would be very close to the question posed about Muslims.

No, this is nothing more than fear-mongering about those among us who may be different.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

“The state does not belong in the bedrooms of the nation”

That according to Pierre Trudeau in 1967. And, I would suggest, neither does the CBC.

The CBC has been twisting itself in knots trying to justify why it “outed” Lori Douglas, associate chief justice of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench (family division).

Justice Douglas had the misfortune of having a husband who, back in 2003 at least, didn’t quite get the concept of discretion when it came to one’s (private) sexual relationships and practices. As a consequence she has now been cast into the spotlight by the CBC for what are personal choices that have absolutely no bearing on her performance as a judge.

Is she a good judge? I have no idea. But she is not automatically a bad judge simply because she and her husband have been known to indulge in certain sexual activities when she removes her robes.

The CBC claims that they are justified in running the story because of “a lawyer's duty to a client; the duty of other legal professionals to report matters of concern to the relevant professional associations; the duty of a potential judge to disclose pertinent matters in advance of his or her selection; and the responsibilities of judicial selection committees as they make their choices.”

In other words, the CBC has determined that a person’s sexual proclivities are and should be “a matter of concern to … professional associations”. What utter bullshit. Unless the individual in question is breaking the law, anything else they do in their free time is no one else’s business but their own.

And don’t even get me started on the lowlife that took $25,000 to shut up in 2003 and 7 years later decided to go public.

 

What price a few hundred votes?

The asbestos industry in Quebec has become a national embarrassment. The health risks from this mineral have been known since the early 1900’s and ultimately led many countries to ban the mining or use of asbestos. Not so in Canada where the federal and Quebec governments continue to actively support an industry that kills in those third-world countries and elsewhere where a ban does not exist.

According to the World Health Organization, asbestos-related illnesses result in as many as 107,000 deaths a year. And since Canada produces about 10% of the world’s asbestos (virtually all of which is exported), 10,000 of those deaths could be directly attributed to this industry, and by extension, to the federal and Quebec governments.

The Chrysotile Institute maintains that the form of asbestos being mined in Canada, chrysotile, is significantly less dangerous than the amphibole types used in years past. On their web site they state, “they are much more less dangerous than amphiboles which were ban a long time ago” (all typos and grammatical errors included.) but then go on to provide a series of safe handling considerations which are all intended to help avoid the inhalation of fibres.

Some reports claim that asbestos mining accounts for about 700 direct (mining) jobs and another 2,000 indirect jobs – most if not all in the Province of Quebec. If those 10,000 deaths were all occurring in Canada you can be sure our governments would have reacted by now, but since they are predominantly in 3rd world countries like India and China one has to wonder whether the two governments consider 3 to 4 deaths per year a reasonable trade off for each of those Quebec jobs and votes.

“This is the stuff of … whack job conspiracy theorists …”

This according to Charlie Angus commenting on Saskatchewan MP Garry Breitkreuz’s statement that “[Police chiefs] won’t admit it, but it appears they don’t want Canadians to own guns. To that end, they need a database that will help them locate and seize those firearms as soon as a licence or registration expires.”

Well Charlie, you nailed that one – at least the “whack job” bit.

Now I have been opposed to the gun registry from day 1, not because I disagreed with the premise (You have to register your dog for Pete’s sake, why not a lethal weapon?) but  because I disagreed with the criminal sanctions associated with failing to register. Make it a misdemeanour punished with a modest fine and remove the draconian search and seizure components and I‘d be fine with that.

But MPs like Breitkreuz and even Hoepner with their over-the-top rhetoric  are clearly just pandering to the most hard-core of the tinfoil-hat wearing conspiricists out there. And sadly, that’s a pretty large segment of the Harper base.