Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quebec and backwards thinking

Political science "experts" are warning that Quebec won't much like it if the federal government goes through with a plan to add parliamentary seats in suburban Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Notice anything missing? That's right, Quebec.

So MY question is twofold - what did they expect Quebec to think, and what does Quebec expect will eventually happen, seriously.

The fact of the matter is that Quebec's population has largely been outgrown by other areas of Canada, in the past 5 years gaining an average of 1/2% per year of population while Ontario (.8% per year), BC (1.1% per year) and Alberta (2.1% per year). This in itself lends to Ontario, BC and Alberta being underrepresented in Parliament. It also shows that the "West of Canada" is growing much faster than Quebec is, meaning that if this trend continues, the West SHOULD gain more political strength and voice to the detriment to Quebec and Atlantic Canada (which also is overrepresented and has largely shown negative growth over the past 5 years). This shouldn't be surprising to Quebec that it will lose power if it loses ground to the rest of Canada in population growth.

The second question is largely a political one. This country was ruled by a Quebec native for the better part of 4 decades. It has pandered to Quebec separatists, it has given Quebec everything it asked for and then some. For my entire lifetime, the prevailing opinion was that all majorities included a substantial contingent from Quebec. If this plan goes through, then it makes it much easier for a majority government to be formed without substantial representation from Quebec, and that will surely scare the hell out of Quebecors and the Bloc Quebecois the first time they find out that they have become irrelevant, not because they aren't a substantial caucus in Parliament, but because they aren't represented in a majority government.

The day that Quebec does not have substantial representation in a federal government will spell the death knell for the Bloc Quebecois. Think of it. A prime minister who can tell Quebec to "get bent" the first time that they cry for more, more, and yet more. Mr Harper has tried to appease Quebec. He has tried to win them over, but the fact of the matter is that they aren't buying what he's selling, and as such this plan will allow him to make decisions for the good of Canada without having to worry about what Quebec thinks. They've largely brought this on themselves.

Obama becomes Harper Lite?

If President Obama comes around to Prime Minister Harper's way of thinking on foreign policy with respect to Iran, then does that make him Harper Lite?

It's very simple - for some people in the world, many of them leaders of their respective countries - endless platitudes just embolden them rather than deterring them. For these people, interventions may be necessary if they abuse and murder their own people, or those of another country without provocation. I sincerely hope an intervention isn't necessary in Iran's case, but I would support our decision to intervene if necessary.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Define "racist"

Anybody winning an argument with a “progressive” or a “liberal”.

Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, says that all people protesting Barack Obama’s policies are racist. He says that people are protesting not because they don’t agree with his policies and are scared of the direction that the United States is being pushed by Mr. Obama, but because they are scared of the color of his skin and don't want to follow a black man.

Personally, I could care less about the color of his skin, so let's play a little game... close your eyes and imagine that anything that Mr. Obama has said was said by Mr. Carter. "We need to pass this $787 billion stimulus package right now lest the unemployment rate go about 8% (despite the fact that the majority of the stimulus package won't be spent until years 2, 3 and beyond)." Yeah, no, I would have to disagree with him. "We have to pass this budget with a 2 Trillion dollar deficit right now, with no reading the bill." Ummm nope disagree there too (the fiscal year end for the US federal government is October 31, meaning that they had a full 6 months to comfortably pass the bill, and it still didn't need to have a 2 trillion dollar deficit). "I'm going to hire 32 people to top advisory 'czar' positions without having them vetted by congress or even my own people". Ummm yeah Jimmy, batting Oh-for still. How about Health Care? "I want congress to draft legislation overhauling the health care system, include a public option, ignore tort reform because that would anger our base, exempt union health benefits from the proposed tax on health benefits from work provided plans (because that would anger our base), and ultimately effect the state takeover of one-sixth of the American economy. Hmmmm nope, still disagree.

Sorry Jimmy, this isn't about race, it's about policies. Maybe you should just wander back to your peanut farm and stay there for a while, 'cause you're sure not helping the debate out here.

Clean energy outside of Nuke or Hydro?

A couple days after the Uranium Development Partnership released it's public consultation report, and all of the Greenies are crying out in victory for their particular favourites - "renewable energy" - things like wind and solar - energy which, while being clean, is definitely not "renewable".

The problem with these forms of energy until now has been that they are not suitable for base load power - because the sun doesn't necessarily shine all the time, because the wind doesn't necessarily blow all the time, the output of these sources of energy would fluctuate too radically to ensure that the base load power would be covered with just these forms, meaning that they can not reliably replace ANY of the existing plants.

Until now.

I was reminded of an article I read in the National Post approximately a month ago about an advance in battery technology which might solve the problems with installing wind and solar as baseload power. The advance makes use of the element Vanadium, and seems to be a promising way to not only store energy, but also to use in electric vehicles and other applications.

Sounds great, right? There is one problem - Vanadium is not found in large quantities on it's own, and the processes which produce and purify the element aren't things that the Greenies would like - steel smelting, processing uranium and burning fossil fuels.

So, given this choice, which do you think the Greens would embrace, the nuclear option, or the use of a highly toxic element to create batteries to allow for their "clean" energy options to be installed as baseload?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pint sized ripoff?


I learned something a few years ago - that a pint in the bar isn't actually like a pint in the real world. The bar in which I learned this served an 18 oz pint, not quite the full one, but apparently more than the average pint served in a bar.

What I find funny is why the provincial government in British Columbia felt the need to ensure that a pint isn't actually a pint.

Can we really be surprised?

Today was the day when the Uranium Development Partnership was to release it's findings on the public consultation process which took place during the spring and early summer.

Given the way that the consultation was to be conducted, I can't say that I'm really surprised at the result which was produced and released today. In reading through the notes from each of the sessions, there are a couple things which stood out:

1) that the vast majority of the comments made at the public consultations were negative, and
2) that the vast majority of the comments made at the public consultations were misinformed.

What it comes down to, is that the pro-nuclear people didn't bother to show up at the meetings and relied on their various groups and associations to make intelligent submissions on their behalf. The anti-nuclear people took every opportunity to lodge their objections.

If there's one thing that the report was correct on though, it was that the government needs to embark on a program to educate the people about the modern realities of nuclear energy. That and to move slowly and cautiously on anything they do.

I think that a plebiscite is in order to prove that the conclusion reached in this report ACTUALLY reflects the will of the people, and not the will of the squeaky wheel.

Friday, September 11, 2009

... And another blast from the past

I remember watching these on farmer vision back in the day between Mr. Dressup, The Friendly Giant and Sesame Street.

A blast from the past

What a classic

May we never forget that day...


And a link to a memorial site for the Canadians who died that terrible day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy Monkey Friday

In honor of Monkey Fridays, which is planned to be a regular feature here at Oxygentax, here's the story of a man who may or may not deserve to pay the Oxygen tax....

A couple of good billboards...

In Winnipeg...

Meanwhile in Edmonton...

An anniversary all but forgotten

It was on this day 70 years ago that Canada truly affirmed its independance on the world stage.

Happy Anniversary Canada. God knows nobody else is saying it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A motto I can believe in...

Mostly because it's based on conservative values - not that the people who put it together would necessarily understand it:

Today I pledge to be the best possible me

No matter how good I am, I know that I can become better.

Today I pledge to build On the work of yesterday

Which will lead me into the rewards of tomorrow.

h/t Neo

I can't believe a judge is even looking at this

Actually, I can believe that a judge is looking at the issue of whether Mr. Harper broke his fixed election law.

The simple answer here is "no" though. In fact, it's easy to judge the simple answer because of the fact that Democracy Watch isn't even arguing on the letter of the law, they're arguing the spirit of the law. That's a big determinant that you're arguing from the wrong side when you can't argue factually rather than spiritually in the case.

Now, I do agree with them that the law is there to stop a prime minister from prematurely calling an election. By setting the fixed election date, this also removes one of Democracy Watch's proposals - that being that there should be a 60-90 day cooling off period before an election writ is dropped.

My question for Democracy Watch is whether they would argue as vehemently if the opposition parties were to force the Prime Minister to the Governor General before the next fixed election date? Would that violate the spirit of the law as well?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Safeway, Lucerne and the strike of the lazy

After reading stories like this one, it's no wonder that I don't like unions.

The union and the employer came to an agreement at the end of August. The settled deal included increases of approx. $2.65 per hour (13%) over 3 years and an increase to the work week of 3 hours per week to 40.

The proposal was rejected by workers, not because of the money, but because of the extra hours.

Now, the explanation seems to make a little bit of fear mongering sense - that if workers work 3 extra hours, then some layoffs may come (personally, I think that it may be more about reducing part time employees in favour of full time ones, but that's just me). Of course, if they stay out on strike for a long one chances are likely that the whole distribution centre gets shut down and EVERYBODY loses their jobs.

Which brings us full circle back to why I don't like unions. It's not that they aren't good for the safety of some classes of workers, because they are. It's because unions figured out many years ago that they could push a company around for more, more, always more... and they use that sledgehammer every chance they get to interfere with the efficient management of a company.

Like it or not, companies sometimes need to downsize operations, adjust their workforce or even move operations to a place where it makes more sense to operate. None of these are evil, except for the people who are affected by the changes.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Revisionism as a tool

Revisionism was always part of the old Bolshevik plan to remake the world, but it has been the order of the day in Russia since Mr. Putin, a former KGB agent and then-president, delivered a State of the Nation address in 2005 in which he declared the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."
This from a story here about the exclusion of Stalin's many evil deeds from the record, or the repackaging of those deeds, not as evil murderous dictatorial actions, but instead as necessary means to justify the end result.

As I read that line, though, something else came to mind. Something that Bob Rae said on the Rutherford show (link to more on that here). Mr. Rae is engaging in a similar revisionism, denying that the Liberal party had a coalition with the Bloc and the NDP. This, of course, was disingenuous hair splitting by the former NDP premier of Ontario. He's right - the Liberals didn't have a "coalition" with the Bloc, they just signed a deal ensuring that the Bloc would support their coalition government for 2 & 1/2 years.

Another case of the ends justifying the means?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The politically incorrect mayor

Amidst having a Prime Minister and Provincial government that needs to seem as if they care about everyone and everything, I find myself wanting to have this guy (Daily mail, Telegraph) running government, if just for a year.

I will be clear though that I think Mr. Wall is the closest we'll come to a guy like this in Saskatchewan, and Mr. Harper (after he gets a majority) is the closest Canada will come to having a guy like this... not that there's anything wrong with that.

h/t SDA

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

White South African gets refugee status

I'm going to be a little politically incorrect this morning, call it inspiration from the last post.

When you think of a refugee, one normally doesn't think of a white person. One thinks of someone from a war torn region of the world, like the middle east, southeast Asia, or the interior parts of Africa. One would assume, as evidenced by this article, that whites are dominant the world over, and would (should?) never be considered disadvantaged.

The fact is that there ARE some regions, and indeed, some countries in the world where whites are in the minority, and their rights are being trod upon by the ruling majority. South Africa is one of those countries.

Founded as a colony of the Dutch, and later given over to British rule in the 19th Century, whites in South Africa did enjoy first world status under racial segregation and apartheid. Since the early 1990s when apartheid was abolished however, racial equity policies have increasingly forced whites into poverty while bringing some blacks into the middle class. It is these policies which emphasize race rather than ability, which remove your freedom to hire the most qualified which make me believe this refugee claim, and many others who have immigrated here from South Africa through the proper channels.

I'm going to be clear however. I don't agree with discrimination, regardless of who is doing the discrimination. I don't agree with a "preference" policy with respect to hiring unless two candidates are fully equal but for one being from a disadvantaged background. When I hire in my business, I don't hire based on race - that doesn't even enter into my mind when I'm interviewing - I hire based on whether the person I see can do the job I need them to do. Simple as that. I think that if we truly want to lift up the disadvantaged, we should do things to eliminate training and qualification differences rather than saying "you're not quite as good as that guy, but I'm going to hire you anyways because of your race". By eliminating the gap, you increase competition for jobs and make it harder for an employer to discriminate on their own.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What is an essential service?

Reading this story I started questioning, "What, in this current society, is an essential service? What can't we get along without?"

This all has to do with 2 bills which were passed by the Saskatchewan Legislature last year, barely a 6 months into the Saskatchewan Party's term in office. One of those bills forces management and union to discuss, compromise and agree on a list of essential workers who can not strike (Bill C-5). The second is a bill amending the trade union act to force secret ballot votes and to raise the threshold required to begin the unionization of a workplace from 25% to 40%(Bill C-6). Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why unions might be upset about these two bills. That doesn't mean that the bills are fundamentally wrong and should not have been passed.

What it means is that unions now find themselves having to justify why someone is NOT essential before they can even negotiate the new contract.

So who is essential? I guess it depends on many different circumstances. The time of the year. The job they do. The department they work in. A highway maintenance worker in the summer time is not essential - we'll just drive around the potholes like we usually do. A highway maintenance worker in the winter time IS essential because of the prevalence of winter storms and the danger of letting snow, slush and ice pile up on highways. A nurse on a ward may not be as essential as the cook in the kitchen, getting meals out for all the patients in a hospital.

What it comes down to, though, is that unions have had some power taken from them with those two bills. They no longer get to dictate terms because an employer could, now, designate enough of a skeleton staff to leave strikers out much longer than before, thereby taking the economic reasoning for striking.

Perhaps this should be a signal to unions that they can no longer take a combative stance with their employers. Perhaps it's a signal to employees that unions are no longer as powerful or as important as before. Either way, it is good that more power has accrued back to the risk takers of the world.

The end of summer, and you know what that means...

"We're tired of propping up a minority Conservative government. We want the NDP and Bloc to prop up a minority Liberal government instead."

Less than 11 months after Stephane Dion's Liberal party got pasted in an election, less than 9 months after the Coalition of the Unintended results was overturned and rejected, 4 months after Micheal Ignatieff ascended to the top job in the Liberal party, and he wants an election?

Wow, that took less time than I thought it would.

Then again, the question I have is "are we REALLY going to go to the polls this fall"?

Let's examine. The Liberal Party is on a high after drastically improving their fundraising in the second quarter of this year, but what happened during that second quarter? A Liberal Leadership Convention in which all 3000 people in attendance had to have paid an entrance fee of approximately $1000 (which was the the same as in 2006). Of COURSE their fundraising is going to be higher. What interests me is whether that fundraising "machine" drops back to normal during the third and subsequent quarters. THAT will be the true test of whether the Liberals are going to make a game of the next election.

The Liberals are also "tired of propping up the Conservatives", and I can understand the point. Of the three opposition parties, the Liberals are the only party which agree with the Conservatives on anything resembling policies... at least until they're trying to get votes. But the understanding is that in our system, the two largest caucuses should be fighting, not agreeing, and that puts a minority Conservative government in tough when they need something important passed.

Finally, let's look at something Ignatieff and his finance critic have attacked on... finances:

Earlier Tuesday, Liberal finance critic John McCallum said that his party isn't satisfied with the Conservative government's management of the economic crisis, saying the Tories were too slow at getting fiscal stimulus money out the door this summer.
So let's see. They complained last December when the Conservatives decided not to do anything further to stimulate the economy, having already decreased taxes over the previous year and a half. They then complained more when the Conservatives relented and spent money on stimulus projects, causing a huge deficit. Now they're complaining because the stimulus money hasn't gone out the door fast enough?

My prediction? The Liberals HAVE to go now, because if they don't, the economy recovers and they have no chance in the next election. Either way, good luck to the people viewed as causing the election. Hopefully it's not only about EI.