Sunday, October 24, 2010

How better to motivate the base

than by stating you expect your opponent to win 2 of the 3 seats up for grabs in the November by-election?

In this story in the Globe and Mail:

A Conservative source told The Canadian Press the Tories expect the Liberals to take at least two seats.

If head office (the PMO) is worried, then every true blue Harper-worshipping Conservative will be sure to get out and vote. And the Liberal supporters? Well the PMO is obviously hoping they’ll view a Liberal win as a given and not bother to vote at all. Voila - 3 Con seats!

Some pundits have actually come out asking “What were they thinking?” with that announcement. Well it’s actually pretty obvious, and quite clever in a Machiavellian sort of way. Expect to see lots more “We don’t expect to win” messaging over the next 4 weeks.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cheap shot of the day

In today’s Ottawa Sun Joe Warmington goes on a rant about apparent special treatment afforded convicted killer Russell Williams at Kingston Pen. Warmington’s unnamed sources told him that Williams was met by the warden and given the “VIP treatment” on arrival.

If true, and if Williams is being given special treatment, then that is clearly an affront to everyone who is disgusted by his actions and applaud the fact he will spend the rest of his miserable life behind bars. The report would be more credible if Warmington had anything to offer as evidence other than information from an “outraged insider”, but he has succeeded in fanning the flames so the story was successful.

But then he goes on with this, an unfair cheap shot aimed squarely at Williams wife.

My source says stay tuned for the conjugal visit application which should come around the same time as the taxpayers pay Williams’ too silent wife Mary-Elizabeth Harriman $3,000 for the OPP disturbing her home while they searched for vital murder investigation evidence.

I can’t imagine anyone in their darkest hours would want to go through what Mary-Elizabeth Harriman has had to experience over the past few months. And just what did he expect her to do? Stand beside her man all weepy and supportive as in the “till death do us part” bit? Or create another media circus by publicly decrying the monster she didn’t know? Get serious. Silence was, and is, the best and only option for her.

And as for his unnamed “source” anticipating a conjugal visit any time soon, that’s clearly just another figment of someone’s imagination and unworthy of publication, even by Warmington’s low standards.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Note to Peter MacKay: Don’t buy this sub!

A few more florid than normal faces around the UK Ministry of Defence these days.

astute-class-submarine.jpgOne of their newest submarines, an Astute-class boat, somehow ran aground off the Scottish coast.

Now how on earth (or on sea) can a modern warship, with literally tens of millions of dollars of navigation gear, sonar, depth sounding technology, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, run aground? Well that’s what the MoD would like to find out. (One rumour is that the Captain was ashore replenishing his Scotch inventory when the tide went out, but that has yet to be confirmed.)

While the British are feeling very safe in their beds knowing that the Royal Navy is out there protecting their island home, the Ministry of Defence is putting together another offer of a “gently used” submarine for their former colony’s naval forces.

So I say to Peter MacKay, remember the Upholders and HMCS Chicoutimi.

Randy Quaid a refugee?

According to this story, Randy Quaid (yes, that Randy Quaid, of Brokeback Mountain and National Lampoon Vacation movies fame) and his wife Evi have applied for refugee status in Canada.

The article isn’t clear on what basis they have made application, but it did mention an outstanding warrant in California for “vandalizing a Santa Barbara home they lived in” and “allegations the couple defrauded an innkeeper in Montecito, Calif.”.

Randy and Evi QuaidRight now they remain in a Vancouver jail as designated flight risks while their application is processed.

With all the changes Jason Kenney is making to the various refugee acts to fix the supposed problems with the system, he should put a superfasttrack process in place that would have had Mr. and Mrs. Quaid on the first bus back to the US as soon as the word “refugee” came out of their mouths. That we allow this sort of crap to clutter up our refugee determination system is just plain nuts!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Air Canada nut-free buffer zone gets OK.

When I saw this headline I was quite relieved to know I‘d never again have to worry about having a Harper Cabinet Minister as a seatmate on any long-haul Air Canada flights. Or short-haul ones either.


But then I read further and discovered they were talking about real nuts and passengers who had severe allergies.

Too bad. I thought Air Canada was really onto something there.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why there’s a productivity gap.

A client recently had a requirement to purchase up to 4 high-end PCs for a very specific business function. We scoped out the requirement and approached 4 different local suppliers for quotes. To be fair it wasn’t going to be a huge order (under $10,000), but we were dealing with small locally-owned computer stores which, one would assume, would like the business. We got these results.

Supplier 1 initially told us they were interested in quoting but even after 2 reminders did not. Nor did they acknowledge either of the follow-up requests.

Supplier 2 quoted a system that did not meet one of the key requirements. The error was akin to quoting a pickup truck when the requirement was for a 4-door sedan.When this was brought to their attention they re-quoted with a station wagon.

Supplier 3 quoted a system which seemed the best solution. It was purchased but when delivered a key component had not been installed. It was on a minimum 2-month backorder, which the supplier neglected to mention beforehand.  The system was returned and the order cancelled.

Supplier 4 quoted a system that included several items not in the original specification because “we thought you overlooked them.” (We did not.)

In each case the supplier didn’t read the specifications and/or made unwarranted assumptions without contacting the client. As a consequence none of them got the business, nor will any of them ever get another opportunity to quote on  future business.

I expect this is not an isolated situation as I’ve heard similar stories from others trying to deal with small businesses. The lost productivity hours on this buy alone are significant. Multiply that by several thousand transactions per day and one gets a sense why there’s such a productivity gap in this country. And also, I expect, why small businesses come and go like mayflies in spring.

None of this is rocket science. 1. Read the specification. 2. Configure the system. 3. Verify it meets the specification. 4. Deliver the quote. 5. Win the business.

But for some reason even that basic checklist seems beyond the capabilities of so many businesses today. It’s actually quite depressing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just black and white please. We’re Cons.

Sometimes I wish I was more like the Cons and many of their supporters, able to view the world and the human condition simply in terms of black and white, yin and yang, with us or against us.

Let’s face it, life would be simpler if one never had to think in shades of gray – no nuance, no subtlety, no opinions other than your own to consider. No debate or intelligent discussion, just yelling matches.

I thought of this today when the news broke that maybe Omar Khadr would cop a guilty plea in the hopes of coming back to Canada to serve out his sentence. I expect that’s a faint hope, and it will happen only over Harper’s cold, dead (political) body, but that didn’t stop the wingnuts from commenting in their usual erudite fashion.

- “Terorrists(sic) don't have RIGHTS!!!”

- “I don't give a rat's @ss about this home grown terrorist. He should have been shot in the face back on the battle field.”

- “Personally I think he deserves to hang!”

The US military’s story on Khadr is so full of holes you could drive a Humvee through it. But regardless of the legality of the case and the guilt (or innocence) of this man, he is entitled to due process. And as a Canadian, he is entitled to it here, whether the Harperites like it or not.

But to understand that requires some thought, and thinking is in awfully short supply on the far right side of the political spectrum. Which is not so surprising because thinking is difficult and, done well, doesn’t always result in a reaffirmation of preconceived views. Heaven forbid considering another perspective or alternative viewpoint, that’s for elites.

And do I really wish I could see the world in simple black and white terms? Of course not. I can think of little that would be more horrible, more mind-numbingly dull, than not being able to consider multiple sides of a situation and be able to take a considered position based on a rational understanding of the facts rather than simply ideology and fear.

Money can’t buy class… or taste!

Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani, reportedly worth about $30 billion (yup, with a “b”), has built a new home for his family in Mumbai.

And this is it:

billion dollar homeWorth approximately $1 billion (also with a “b”), the home is 27 stories high, has a staff of 600, parking for 160 cars, 3 helipads on the roof (Don’t you just hate it when you have to wait your turn to land?), 9 elevators,  and a 50-seat theatre.

The family of 4 will live on the top floors so they can enjoy the best views of the Arabian Sea. And the slums of Mumbai, no doubt.

The only adjective that comes to mind is ugly!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Watch for heads to roll at HRDC

“The Conservative government wants to help unemployed Canadians find careers as strippers and for-hire escorts.”

This according to an HRDC draft policy memo concerning occupations acceptable for posting to the Job Bank.

To be clear, the Job Bank will not list prostitution per se, but, it is suggested, should include:

• Exotic dancer, erotic dancer, nude dancer, striptease dancer and table dancer.

• Escort, chat line agent, phone agent for personal services and telephone agent for personal services.

Not one of which professions is, in any way, shape, or form, illegal in this country.

Of course all the usual shrill voices have jumped all over this. Charles (“Chuckles”) McVety says “This is appalling activity by our government” and goes on to point out the hypocrisy of a Conservative government (this one in particular) taking this position after hounding Judy Sgro  out of Cabinet over a relatively minor breach of their Victorian morals some 6 or 7 years ago.

And you can also be sure talk-line radio will be all over this today, “coast to coast to coast” as they like to say.

Expect a strong denial from the PMO, heads to roll at HRDC, and McVety to claim victory once again over the forces of evil. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NHL hypocrisy in plain view

If there was ever any doubt about the NHL’s nudge-nudge-wink-wink approach to cleaning up dirty play on the ice, these two stories bring the reality into sharp focus. Clearly the NHL has NO serious intention of taking the steps necessary to protect its most valuable (and only) assets, its players. As a result, more and more fans are being driven from the sport, disturbed by the on-ice antics of some players and the Neanderthal attitude that seems to permeate head office.

In the first instance, the New York Islanders’ James Wisniewski gives an opponent the finger after an on-ice verbal exchange. The recipient of said gesture, (Sean Avery - himself no angel), is uninjured and continues the game but whinges and moans about the insult after the game.

Blackhawks Sabres Hockey In the second instance, Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson blind-sides Buffalo’s Jason Pominville and drives him into the boards. Pominville suffers a concussion and is carried off the ice on a stretcher. It’s uncertain when he will be back playing.

And the punishments meted out? 2 game suspensions in both cases.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is it still a Tim’s if they don’t sell Dutchies?

dutchieRunning into the city the other day I had a craving for a medium black and a Dutchie, so I swung off the Queensway and headed down to a Tim’s on Carling Ave. for my fix.

I pulled into the parking lot (I don’t do drive-thrus) and went inside only to find they don’t sell Dutchies at that location!

How can it be a Tim’s if they don’t sell Dutchies? It’s the iconic Tim Horton’s sugar-enriched, 360-calorie treat widely credited with hardening the arteries of an entire generation of Canadians. It was also, along with apple fritters, the first product ever sold by Tim’s. And it’s still one of their best selling items – at least at any outlet near where I live.

Clearly the universe is dangerously unbalanced and something must be done. Does Jimbo Flaherty know this? Maybe they stopped carrying Dutchies during the Chretien years, in which case it’s obviously the Liberal’s fault. Perhaps a few Economic Action Plan dollars could be tossed in Tim’s direction. (Note to PMO: Think of the photo op this presents. Against a backdrop of non-elites, Harper could scarf down a Dutchie while holding a double-double emblazoned with the EAP logo.)

It’s no wonder Ottawa’s going to the dogs. (Sorry, dogs, no Dutchies for you.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Amateur hour on The Hill

According to this story at

“The Harper Conservatives injected partisan politics into their UN Security Council campaign, telling international diplomats Wednesday that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff puts his party before his country.”

lawrence_cannonForeign Affairs Minister Lawrence “Loose” Cannon levelled the charge at a gathering of non-partisan international diplomats, defying the normally accepted international protocols of leaving partisan politics at “the waters edge”.

If these guys weren’t such complete fools they’d understand there’s a reason why a country, no matter the politics at home, should appear united in the international political sphere. To do otherwise damages the country’s reputation abroad and brings into question the stability of it’s government, and hence it’s value as an ally and/or trading partner.

Is it possible they are that stupid? Or is this just another indication of the Cons seemingly insatiable need to destroy this country and all that it stands for, piece by piece?

“The audience of about 150 sat impassive and silent throughout the address offering polite applause at the end.”

Like Flaherty’s bombast a week or so ago, this is just another example of amateur hour, and I can’t wait for an audience, somewhere, to pointedly stand up in the middle of one of these inappropriate partisan diatribes and leave the room. And then watch Soudas try to spin it as a Liberal conspiracy.

Buffoons, the lot of them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

“It Can’t Get Any Worse”

tiriricaThat was the campaign slogan of Tiririca, an illiterate clown who was just elected to the Brazilian Congress.

Voters responded overwhelmingly to his platform, the main plank of which was a promise to tell voters what their elected representatives actually did on a day-to-day basis – a platform of transparency one might say.

And how could one not vote for a politician who’s honest enough to come right out and state that one of his reasons for seeking office was to help the needy, “including my family”?

It’s not a slam-dunk however as the Brazilian constitution requires lawmakers to be able to read and write, and there’s some dispute over just how illiterate Tiririca is. But should he take his seat I can only hope, for the voters’ sakes, that their illiterate clown does a better job than our illiterate clowns on the whole transparency and integrity  issue.