Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why the long census matters

Why the long census matters -

So let me see if I have this right...
The family history website,, sent out a statement saying contrary to government claims, Canadians are not troubled by privacy concerns, but

“are overwhelmingly in favour of access to the kind of information that could soon become obsolete.”

“The long form paints a really robust history of your ancestors’ lives,” says Karen Peterson, managing director of Genealogy buffs were fascinated learn that a great grandfather was a poet. “The how is a bit lost when limited to the short form.”

Census forms with personal data are available only after 92 years.

Canadians don't think that the census is intrusive, but even if it is, it allows people to learn about their ancestors 92 years after the fact. So basically this is collecting information for information's sake.

In the city of Toronto, the long form census provided intimate glimpses into neighbourhoods — each containing 200 to 400 households. It helped locate day cares, language programs for newcomers and aided marketers.

“Many marketers want to offer products and services targeted to new communities,” says Jan Kestle, president of Environics Analytics. The data on newcomers influences decisions on what kinds of food to stock on grocery shelves, or where to distribute flyers. “So people don’t feel they are getting useless mail. It’s tailored to the community.”

Helped cities locate day cares and language programs. Well here's a thought... If these communities want these programs, they would ask for them or find a way to get it done without government intervention. As for marketers, shouldn't they bear the costs of providing better service to their clients?

What this all comes down to (and these are just a couple concerns that the Star brought forward) is that too many people think that they are using the information to do good, but in reality are using the information to meddle. Cities can review or track their services and sales to find out the information the long form already does. School boards only need names and ages to find out where to place schools (oops, short form questions), and realistically, so do cities wanting to place services. There is nothing in the long form census that needs to be answered, and certainly not under penalty of fines and jail time.

And to those who are concerned that certain constituencies won't answer an intrusive, long survey voluntarily, I would point out one thing... It's YOUR job to explain why they should want to fill it out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Because Yes, he can

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives in the US forces all citizens aged 18-42 to serve for 2 years of mandatory service in whatever capacity deemed necessary by the US president. This may include mandatory military service in times of war (or military service in lieu of civilian service at the option of person), or civilian service at the discretion of the US President. That's right, the President can name anything he deems to be a worthy cause and force people to serve in it.

Read the bill here.

Now, I'm not going get very hysterical about a bill like this - I think that it's good for some people to give back to the community. I don't agree that it should be mandatory service. What I find funny is that someone who would introduce this bill obviously didn't think it through. Let's assumed that this bill was passed in the wake of 9/11. What are the odds that the President at the time would use a bill like this to force participation in that war? How much opposition would there have been at the time? What do you suppose the average American's reaction to the use of such a legislation would have been?

Long story short, this bill will do a lot of damage from unintended consequences. Hopefully both Houses will ensure that it never gets passed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mother sues son she abandoned at age 15 for parental support

Mother sues son she abandoned at age 15 for parental support

All I can say is that this woman is a piece of work.

This is a very good reason that for every new law enacted, 5 existing laws should be repealed. The law that she is attempting to use to, in essence, steal money from her kids (and grandkids) was a law enacted in the 20s, before Old Age Security, before CPP and the rest of the social safety net. The law was enacted to ensure that less people would become wards of the state during a deep recession, and is now all but obsolete in the present day.

Every story has 2 sides, but the fact that this woman is (and has been) estranged from all of her children save one, leads one to believe that she should be entitled to support from her children when she repays the support that she withheld earlier 100 fold. This woman deserves the support of her children as much as an extra, bullet sized hole through her head.

As for the lawyer that took this on, he should have backed away from the case the second that he learned that she was estranged from all of her kids.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Palestinian victims noone talks about

It has nothing to do with Israel, the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, but Mr Toameh has a very real, very valid point.

Palestinians are given the short end of the stick in virtually all of the so-called "Arabic" countries, but it's only Israel's perceived wrong doing that gets reported or punished by the United Nations.

I wonder why that is.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Well, he oughta know about "condescending twits"

He works with a few after all

To be absolutely honest, I don't agree with Mr. Goodale's comments in regards to his colleague Mr. Trost, to whit:

"What an insulting, condescending little twit. I mean, that is outrageous for a person of his position to lay that kind of abuse . . . on the cities and towns and villages and rural municipalities of Saskatchewan. That is just appalling," said Goodale.
But enough about Mr. Goodale and his ilk. What I'm more concerned with are the remarks by Mr. Trost and the reason he had to give them.

To be honest, we all know that the municipalities won't act like school kids given a snow day without their homework done, but his concern is genuine and valid. The point I would make, as Mr. Ritz has also mentioned is simply this:

The March 31, 2011, deadline as of now stands, said Ritz. But he noted there are "extenuating circumstances," and Wall and Harper had a "good discussion" of the idea of an extension when the PM toured flooded areas near Yorkton earlier this month.

"The prime minister had said certainly he would take that to heart, but that there was some months left in the construction season and they both agreed that major things could happen if we have a good open fall. But we would keep our eye on the prize and make sure everybody had the chance to move forward with the projects."

In other words, we're not inclined to grant an extension right now, but if it's looking like you won't make the deadline, we'll consider making a special case to do so. This is exactly what Mr. Trost should have said in the first place.

Now realistically, even if an extension WERE granted, that's no guarantee that some municipalities might not reprioritize projects in order to get more important ones done first. That notwithstanding, it is actually of benefit to the municipalities to have a hard deadline at this point in order to be able to avoid situations like what happened on Highways 26 and 55 in the waning days of the last NDP government. Highway 26 was earmarked to have a stretch rebuilt in 2005. Work started that fall with the highway being torn up in preparation in 2006. Because of weather problems (among other issues), Highway 26 wasn't completed until the spring of 2009. During the interim, the "highway" was little more than a nuisance during dry weather, and all but impassable during wet weather. A similar problem occurred with Highway 55 in the same area - with stretches of the "primary weight" highway being of lesser quality than the gravel grid road not 2 miles to the north.

With a hard deadline, the municipalities in question can say "get it done or you're finishing it with less money". With a soft deadline, the companies can be more leisurely about their pace, and that doesn't benefit anyone.

In short, Mr. Trost would have saved himself and everyone else a whole lot of trouble if he had just said the simple statement: "We're not considering it at this point, but we may be persuaded in the future if the weather causes interminable delays".

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Levy frustrates out-of-province campers

Levy frustrates out-of-province campers

That's when the Pollards learned they'd have to cough up an extra $4. When he asked why, she told him: "Well, the people of Saskatchewan pay taxes, some of which is applied to operate the campgrounds, and they feel that others who don't pay these taxes should pay their fair share."

Just a note this morning for the Saskatchewan Party government...

Make the camping and park fees on all of your provincial parks self-sustaining and drop the idea that because Saskatchewan residents subsidize the parks and as such shouldn't pay as much as others.

That isn't a way to ensure that outsiders feel welcome and WANT to come to Saskatchewan to spend their money, and honestly why should the provincial parks be subsidized? They charge fees. Fees for usage. Fees for services. Fees for rentals. If you can't find a way to make the parks self-sustaining with all of the fees at their disposal, then fire staff, increase your fees for all people, or allow more development in the parks. Charging fees based place of origin is just another barrier to trade between provinces and hurts us more than they help.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I can't believe we're still talking about the census

But here it is again.

According to the former head statistician for Stats Can:

“Now, it is clear that Statistics Canada did not make the recommendation to the government to have a shortened census, which would have been a real stain on the organization’s reputation,” Mr. Fellegi said. “It would have indicated we didn’t know our own business.”

That business, says the former Statistics boss, operates best when the politicians maintain their distance.

Of course apparently this is also

evidence of a decades-long erosion in the relationship between public servants with a job for life, and politicians whose lifespan is unknowable from one election to the next.

Now here's the thing, and there's no getting around this. The purpose of government isn't to provide a job for life, nor is it necessarily to provide job satisfaction for those same civil servants. No, the purpose of a government agency is to get something done according to the instructions of the government of the day - regardless of the political stripe of that government.

Now, one can not necessarily assume that Stats Canada DIDN'T suggest to the government that the same information could be collected via a voluntary survey, but I have two questions:

  1. How exactly do pollsters collect reliable data via voluntary surveys?
  2. What use, exactly, IS the information collected in a survey either every 5 or 10 years? Why is this relevant information when Statistics Canada takes several years to properly compile the data?
One last question:

Each census is intended to count everybody in the country — which is impossible to do. So Statistics Canada includes “population estimates.” And the population of each province is a driving factor in determining equalization payments and federal and provincial transfers.
if it is impossible to count everybody in the country, and Statistics Canada does "population estimates", how reliable is the data in the first place?

When it comes down to it, forcing Statistics Canada to change it's methods in order to get the same reliable "data" without forcing anyone to cooperate may be an ideological choice, but that doesn't mean that it's the wrong one.

And these people are all absolutely right - Statistics Canada should be free of government intervention... just like Nanos, Ipsos Reid, Angus Reid, Environics... and while we're at it, let's strip their ability to force us to do anything under penalty of fines or jail time.

It's only fair to give all of the employees at Statistics Canada what they want... they should be careful what they wish for however.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

And so that turbulant chapter ends...

RCMP absolve Jaffer, Guergis of wrongdoing

Okay, so LEGALLY she did nothing wrong, but let's be honest - she and her husband DID do some things which might be considered inappropriate behaviour for any adults, let alone Members of Parliament (both current and former).

I'm not really surprised that she hasn't rejoined the Conservative caucus, and it may take some time before she would be trusted back within that happy family again. The fact is that the appearance of impropriety can make or break a career in politics let alone ACTUAL impropriety, and in this case, the appearance of impropriety may taint her brand for a long time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

And a happy re-birthday to us

One year ago today, this blog was reborn in the current format.

Thanks for reading - hopefully you'll find more to read about in the coming year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More on the Long form census

So just out of curiosity, were Canada's 21,000 adherents to the Jedi way of life in danger of being jailed for not answering truthfully the question about religion? After all, Section 31 of the Statistics Act makes it a crime to knowingly give a false statement, and the Jedi Council wasn't federally recognized until January of 2009.

Just food for thought.

Who knew that getting equal treatment was racist?

Apparently CBC thought so, but Cold Lake's city council had another thing to say about it.

Now with all due respect to city council, I have no doubt that some of the reaction was tinged with prejudice.

Here's the thing though - offering land to ANYONE for 90% of fair value is a bad idea - it doesn't matter WHO they are. Regardless of what you think the reasons are, what it comes down to is that Council DID make the right decision, regardless of if the Islamic community or the CBC thinks otherwise. This doesn't preclude the Islamic community from building a mosque (they can), it doesn't even preclude them from buying the same land and building the mosque there anyways - all it does is preclude them from getting a deal that every other non-profit organization or religious organization would jump at.

What it comes down to, is that religious organizations already get a tax exemption for their churches or gathering places, council made the right decision in not allowing a sweetheart deal to go through. The optics may be bad now, but it will go away when the Mosque gets built anyways.

Panel should be independent

Panel should be independent

Better idea: Privatize the crowns and allow them to set their own rates.

I mean, not for nothing, but crown utilities aren't THERE to provide the "lowest bundle of utilities in Canada". They aren't there to minimize debt in order to make the government look good, nor are they there to maximize a "dividend" payment to general revenue in order to make the government of the day look good as well.

No. The crown corporations are there to be run as normal businesses that just happen to be owned by the government and provide services to all residents of the province. There shouldn't BE a rate review panel because crowns should be expected to act like normal businesses and price their product in order to ensure proper maintenance of the infrastructure and a normal return on investment.

In SaskPower's case, the infrastructure deficit is so large (as evidenced by the fact that the government didn't take any dividend in order to allow SaskPower to replace and maintain with that money) that the rate review panel shouldn't be making any adjustments to the rate anyways.

So back to the original point. Privatize the Crowns and do away with the rate review panel. I would be the best thing this government ever did.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tories agree to explain decision to scrap long-form census

Tories agree to explain decision to scrap long-form census

Municipalities, researchers, statisticians and a broad range of community and academic associations have publicly panned the government’s decision, saying a voluntary questionnaire is less likely to be completed by groups such as immigrants, people whose first language is neither English nor French, and those with low income or education, producing a skewed demographic portrait and undermining the country’s statistical information.

Moreso than say... forcing people to answer a 40 page survey in which you can't verify whether the information is correct?

When it comes down to it, if they information is that useful to all of these groups, I would suggest that they should pay to have the data collected themselves - in which case, they would still have to garner voluntary participation. Realistically though, that beats threatening people with jail time if they don't comply.

Perhaps the Conservatives can have a "mandatory" survey, but refuse to punish anyone refusing to comply? Would THAT make these groups happy?

The more information the government collects at gunpoint, the more meddling they can do in your life.

By the way, Mr. Garneau's email address is here. Let him know what you think.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Other Side of the Gaza Blockade

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire.”

Or DOES it?

Need a job? Move to Canada, says Huffington Post

Need a job? Move to Canada, says Huffington Post

Okay, first off, yes Americans, please do move to Canada.

We need lots of labour on the prairies to feed your compatriots' desire for cheap energy in all of its forms.

That notwithstanding, I welcome the move for one reason: The ones most likely to move are good, hardworking, entrepreneurial people who are likely to settle in, start businesses and help us grow our economy. After all, who else would leave never ending employment "insurance" benefits just to find another job? It sure wouldn't be a union member. Not many unskilled workers would take that chance either.

No, the ones that would come are the exact ones we need. Thanks Huffington for the vote of confidence for us and against your country. We appreciate it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Unions Discover Joys of Outsourcing

Unions Discover Joys of Outsourcing - Stephen Spruiell - The Corner on National Review Online

Just a thought here... could this not be a way out of the SEIU, CUPE and SGEU not striking because as the SEIU stated previously, 90% of their members have been deemed as essential under the essential services legislation passed in 2008.

I mean really, I hate to help out the unions in their fight against the evil, well, us. But just think, all they have to do is spend some money and they can picket without breaking the law.

Of course, the hypocrisy of non-union members being paid to picket would be an interesting sell to the general public, and this would ruin their plans of a general strike for the middle of next year, but still, it's a way to get the contract negotiations moving.

Of course, finding someone in Saskatchewan that is willing to picket for minimum wage would be problematic, what with the boom sucking up all available labour and forcing labour rates upwards, but that's not really the issue, is it?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Union slams SAHO

Union slams SAHO

Funny how things work out.

It's almost like the union doesn't WANT to reject the offer just yet.

Meanwhile, back in the hospitals, more fun from the rank and file members.

Now, I don't know for sure why the unions are specifically waiting to hold a vote on the contract offer that SAHO presented in January. What I DO know is that many of the unions during negotiations tend to take the position that it's not about the money, it's about management not listening to their concerns.

The problem is that those concerns don't seem to be communicated effectively, especially when stuff like this happens:

Mary-Frances Eley, who gave birth to twins one month ago at RUH, said she was encouraged by nurses to complain about the situation.

"The nurse actually told us that we should write to the board to get more resources for new parents so there would be staff there to take care of babies. She really encouraged us. She said, 'I think there should be something like that there, but there's not.' "

Now, I don't know what that looks like to you, but it REALLY looks like a nurse in this situation was attempting to use a patient who did not have all the necessary information as a mouthpiece to get something that the nurses would appear to want - more positions and more people hired.

Now, with all due respect to many good people out there, employees usually fixate on the trees to the exclusion of the forest. Groups of similarly minded people end up being unions who gather more power in numbers and cause problems for proper management.

Still, the more I view both situations, and the anecdotal evidence that I see on a regular basis, the more I come to a conclusion that others including Gormley have already arrived at:

The SGEU, SEIU and CUPE aren't allowing a vote on the contract offer by SAHO for one important reason - they're afraid of what their members might do, and they are trying to hold out until next spring when they can do a general strike.

There's labour unrest coming. The problem for them is that the labour unrest may cause a backfire that will put the NDP in a tenuous position going into the next election.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Environmental groups target Alberta and Oilsands

But I seriously wonder what these environmental groups would REALLY do if the price of their fuel doubled along with all of the other derivatives from oil - plastics, synthetic materials, heating fuel, etc.

That being said, I have to admit that Mr. Stelmach put it best in his ad in the Washington Post on July 2nd:

A good neighbour lends you a cup of sugar.
A great neighbour supplies you with 1.4 million
barrels of oil per day.

If some groups aren't careful, they might not be able to fly off to their environmental conferences and photo ops.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To pay or not to pay... that is the question

What's everyone getting their shirt in a knot over?

Oh, it's just Magna International

Actually, I shouldn't say that, nobody is really getting their shirts in a knot over Magna International, it's just some institutional investors that are unhappy over a plan to restructure Magna in order to remove it's family owned controllers from the helm.

So let's see if we have this right... Magna International was founded by Frank Stronach in 1957, and during the subsequent decades with Frank at the helm, grew through various mergers and acquisitions to become one of the most important suppliers to the auto industry in North America. In 1962, the company went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange with what one would assume was the same share structure as it currently holds, including dual class shares, after which it grew rapidly under the guidance of the man who started it all.

Now, the Ontario Teachers, the CPP Investment Board, and the APP investment board all have their shirts in a knot over a corporate structure that existed at the time when they invested their money into the corporation, especially at a time when the company's Board of Directors is seeking to reorganize the corporate structure and pay the founder of the company to go away.

Do I have that right? Shirts in a knot over a corporate structure that existed when they originally invested. Hmmm yes, seems like it.

The fact of the matter is (and I'm going to be a pretty unabashed free marketeer here) that some people use other people's money to expand and fail, others use other people's money to expand and succeed. That money can come from banks and investors in the form of loans and guarantees, or it can come from investors in the form of equity, but regardless of how it came, Frank Stronach took that money and expanded his business from $70,000 in sales the first year to a multi-billion dollar multinational powerhouse within the span of 50 years. With all due respect to the institutional investors, Mr. Stronach deserves every penny of premium that he is paid to walk away from his company, and then some, and to be quite frank, if those investors don't like it, then they can sell their stakes in the company and walk away.

It's a free country.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Omar Khadr V. U.S.A: The charges

David Akin's On the Hill :: Omar Khadr V. U.S.A: The charges

Any questions? Anyone care to guess how many of those charges were substantiated without the "torture" in Guantanamo Bay?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Old White guy with constitutional law background...

So let's see if I have this right, Mr. Selley:

Duh old white guy with constitutional law background bad, terrorists good

Does that sum up your position, Mr. Selley?

I hate to sum up your position so simplistically, but it seems as though that's what you're doing to everyone else, so apparently it's fair game.

First, the "Old White Guy". For the record, Michaelle Jean did an exemplary job during a politically tumultuous time in our history, and the Sun is wrong to bring up her CBC background again BECAUSE she did an exemplary job. But you have to know, Mr. Selley, that the last thing that the country wanted to see was yet another journalist receiving a job for which he or she is only qualified because of the colour of their skin, or their linguistic skills, or their religion (first Sikh perhaps?) or their gender. The country wanted to see someone who is qualified, and Mr. Harper was going to make that choice regardless of identity politics because HE wants to see that too. The added bonus is that by selecting someone eminently qualified for the position, he is putting those who would disparage the candidate in an awkward position by forcing them to focus only on the identity politics of the choice (and show their true feelings on the subject in the process).

Next, let's focus on your point regarding Omar Khadr:

And today, in an only slightly less cretinous effort, the Sun Media editorialists say “screw him” to Omar Khadr on account of his father and brothers are/were such awful people. Classy. Still, unlike the Johnston editorial, it’s at least somewhat in keeping with what many Canadians think. On the other hand, what the hell is this supposed to mean: “Khadr was 15 when he ended up in the American prison camp at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, and he is now almost 24. Boo-hoo. And la-dee-dah.”
Now, some facts. Mr. Khadr was captured on the field of battle in Afghanistan, where he was fighting against the NATO force (in this case, our allies the Americans) in support of the terrorist cause... you know, all those guys that keep planting bombs by the side of the road and strapping vests full of bombs to their bodies and detonating them? Yes, THOSE roadside bombs that have succeeded in killing 150+ Canadians in Afghanistan. Mr. Khadr was wounded during that battle and suspected of throwing a grenade at those same Americans, mostly through the circumstantial evidence of being the only one who COULD have thrown that grenade. He was 15 at the time. He was then taken to Guantanamo Bay (after medical treatment and rehab) where he was held and interrogated as an enemy combatant. Now, I don't know if you know this, but Child Soldiers stop being child soldiers at age 14, and enemy combatants don't get constitutional protection because the Constitution of Canada AND the US covers only what happens within our own country - it's not a get out of jail free card.

Now, Mr. Selley, if you want, it might be a good idea to also highlight that Mr. Khadr has repeatedly thrown wrenches at the legal process he is supposed to be charged under, delaying through obfuscation and tactics like firing his legal representation, boycotting hearings and the like, all of which lengthened the time he was in Guantanamo. It would also be a good idea to highlight that under the Geneva conventions, "enemy combatants" can be held without trial as a prisoner of war indefinitely - as long as there is a war ongoing. You might also want to note that since this has been ongoing since 2002, which essentially means that 3 different Prime Ministers have had the option of doing something and has refused. One more thing to note - of those 3 Prime Ministers, only Mr. Harper has chosen to allow the justice system in functioning allied democracies run their course before bringing the suspect home to serve the sentence.

The sum of all these things is to point out that Mr. Khadr will stay where he is until justice has run it's course, and very few people in the country can make it go otherwise. If you want, however, we can pay for his ticket back to the hills of Afghanistan where he was originally taken, with a detailed account of what he told Canadian and US authorities. We can also replace the 3 bullet holes taken out of him as well, and leave a grenade in his hands, just in case he wants to use it. That way, he can pick up exactly where he left off. Fair enough?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rage Against the Machine Rages Against Anglo-Centric Police State’ in Arizona

Rage Against the Machine Rages Against ‘Anglo-Centric Police State’ in Arizona

Yes, yet another story about millionaire "artists" complaining about something the more right wing people are doing, but with a twist.

The band is called "Rage against the Machine". Presumably this would mean that they would rage against something that the establishment are doing. Unfortunately, they really should have stayed quiet in this case.

Why, you might ask? Because while the FEDERAL "machine" is ignoring and choosing not to enforce its own law, the STATE "machine" is doing the exact opposite in accord with its rights.

Now personally, I could care less what Rage thinks about immigration - I've listened to one of their albums repeatedly and that's about it. It would seem to me though that the band isn't raging about everything the "establishment" does, nor should it. No, the band should really only be raging against the stupid and unnecessary things that the establishment does, and in this case, passing a law which is then not going to be enforced would be the epitome.

Unfortunately, these idiots are choosing to go another way, railing against everything indiscriminately. Tell me how it works out for ya boys.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Known al-Qaeda Operative Could Not Be Deported - Daniel Foster - The Corner on National Review Online

Known al-Qaeda Operative Could Not Be Deported - Daniel Foster - The Corner on National Review Online

Call me crazy, but if you immigrate to a country and then conspire in an act of terrorism against that country, they probably don't want you there anymore.

And to be quite frank, it shouldn't matter what the consequences of your returning to your original country are. Let's be honest - if you were willing to blow yourself up for your cause, then anything else that gets done to you should just be an extra bonus. Just a thought.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

SK: Sell-Outs a Sign?

SK: Sell-Outs a Sign | Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Actually Colin, the SK sellouts AREN'T a sign at all.

On page 3 of the report, Hopson notes: “Our on-field success helped lead us to another record breaking year on the business side of the club. A regular season attendance record was established in 2009 after averaging 30,717 fans per game.”
He's saying that the stadium has helped to boost attendance, but if that's the case, then where were all these people in the 80s and 90s?

No, this is a case where the on-field product has entirely fueled attendance, and has highlighted the problems with the current stadium design flaws. Sure it may cost $6 million to "repair" the existing stadium to allow it to be serviceable for another 10 years, but this is a faulty comparison.

The real comparison is how the cost to upgrade the stadium to "shorten the bathroom lines" among other things would compare to the cost to build a facility which incorporates those concerns into the design in addition to providing a year round facility which can be used to attract or develop large shows and additional entertainment options.

I don't agree that NO government money should go into constructing such a facility, but there should be enough government dollars to ensure that it can be built.

Doomed by democracy?

I'm just going to say one thing here...

"I have a feeling", Mr Lovelock told journalist Leo Hickman, "that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.
The "scientists" that are pimping the Climate Change will have to do a better job actually TELLING me what the absolute evidence is that supports their claims. And quite frankly, they have to tell me what it's doing by using actual evidence and not a computer model. Unless they do these things, then there is no way that democracy can be suspended unless most of the population are idiots.

And while we're on that topic - Mark Steyn weighs in about it here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A century later, Punjab wants $150 million from Canada for a historical wrong

A century later, Punjab wants $150 million from Canada for a historical wrong

... except that they can't prove that it was a wrong committed by the federal or provincial governments.

There is a line that we should be drawing when it comes to "redressing historical wrongs". Personally, I think that the appropriate line falls somewhere around redressing stuff that the government ACTUALLY did, assuming it was outside of the prevailing attitude of the day.

For example - federal government turning back the boat according to established policy at the time - not wrong. Federal government turning back the boat because they couldn't pay an entry tax? Wrong. We won't know what was exactly the problem at the time, other than the policy specifically being applied. It could have been that the $15,000 was a portion of the charter fee due upon arrival. We may never know what exactly this part of the story was.

But in the end, we don't need to know. The ship was turned back for procedural reasons, not for lack of money. It may have been a tragedy what happened to the passengers upon return to Southeast Asia, but it is certainly nothing that we need apologize for a century after the fact, and it's certainly nothing that the federal government should be paying compensation over.

After all, if you pay compensation to these victims, do you also pay compensation and apologize to the Germans dispossessed during the First World War? Do you also apologize and pay compensation to detained German and Japanese during the Second World War? Where does it stop? At what point do was say "What's history is history. Enough"? I think that time is now.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Local protesters mark oppostion to G20 arrests with rally

Local protesters mark oppostion to G20 arrests with rally

“I was concerned about what happened during the G20,” said Christine Leclerc, calling the arrests “arbitrary.” “It’s unconstitutional.”
... except that it isn't arbitrary or unconstitutional. What it comes down to is one thing - a lot of people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Some might say that I'm saying that the protesters shouldn't be there, and I would reply that they are absolutely right. But here's my reasoning:

In April, a group of "anarchists" attacked (read: firebombed) an RBC branch in Ottawa and promised that more damage would happen at the G8/G20 summits. The Federal government, naturally, increased security (costing the earth in the process). So on comes the G20 and what happens? These "anarchists" show up to cause damage, but they do it in such a way that they can blend into the crowd after their acts of violence and vandalism. The police, being quite anxious to disperse the crowds and possibly apprehend those who committed vandalous and violent acts, arrested about 1100 people over 2 days, after a day of rolling over and playing dead mind you, and releasing all but a handful of those vandals - the ones that are actually going to get charged with something.

But here's where my rationale comes in... Everybody KNEW that there would be people trying to do vandalous acts during the protests. Everybody KNEW that these people would commit their acts and then blend in with the crowd. So if you knew those two things, WHY WOULD YOU BRING YOUR GROUP TO PROTEST??? Why wouldn't you issue a press release during the week leading up to the festival stating that your group would NOT be protesting, here's why, and by the way, this is why we oppose the G20. Why would you provide cover for the idiots that decided that breaking windows and burning police cars "anonymously"?

The fact that these groups witnessed and provided cover for these idiots means that they are not only culpable, but complicit in the acts themselves. For that reason, I would submit that all of the arrests were legal and constitutional. Good luck to those trying to prove otherwise though.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Atlas Shrugged: The movie

I am currently in the process of re-reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, and for some reason got the brain wave that this is a novel that should be turned into a movie.

Then I looked on the Internet Movie Database and found that they already ARE making it as a movie.

After finding that there already is a movie of the book in the works, I realized just what a bad idea that might be, but not because of what this guy says:

I believe that if this project actually sees the light of day, we could be in for some turbulence up ahead. A movie version of Atlas Shrugged isn’t just destined for failure- it could turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes Hollywood could ever make.
Now, I look at the making of this movie, in the wrong hands, as something that could horribly damage that particular point of view for years to come. Given that Hollywood is filled with people who do not agree with this point of view means that there is a good chance that the movie DOES end up in the wrong hands. I'm comforted that it is an independant, privately funded movie and thus may actually be out of the hands of those who may do the message harm.

But really, back to this piece of work. Why does he think that a movie like this is going to be a mistake? I'll let him tell you himself:

First of all, the ideology espoused here is extremely radical. Making a movie based on the work of Ayn Rand would be akin to making a movie about Stalin and his version of communism. Sure, I’d love to see a biopic about Stalin be made. The difference here is that ATLAS SHRUGGED would bathe this radical philosophy in a positive light. Imagine the uproar if a movie were to hit theaters that made Mussolini out to be a hero, a savior, a prophet.

Second, so long as this ideology has been contained to a hulking piece of literature, the movement and its followers have been confined to a relatively small group. Generally, those who get wrapped up in Atlas Shrugged are those who are frustrated with mediocrity in society. They see themselves as much better than the average man.

What’s so scary is the possibility that Ayn Rand’s words would spread to a much larger audience. People without the intellectual capacity or willpower to slug through the book would be exposed to this extremely enticing philosophy. Understand this- I spent about a year of my life under Rand’s spell. It’s an extremely alluring premise- live up to your full potential, care only about yourself, succeed, work hard, don’t let anyone take what’s rightfully yours. It sounds so great!

Were the troglodytes of society to venture to their local cinema and fall prey to the mystique of an ATLAS SHRUGGED movie, we’d be in a world without rules. It’s a scary thought, but I honestly worry that a single movie could have this much effect. Will it? Probably not. But it definitely could pan out this way. I’d argue the same for a movie on the far left, such as an affirming adaptation of The Communist Manifesto.

So, if I may paraphrase - he thinks that painting self-reliance in a positive light is a bad thing for today's society, and worries that most of the people who watch the movie aren't intelligent enough to understand why self-reliance is necessarily a bad thing. He cites that this is radical ideology while simultaneously pointing out that nary a Tea Party (the fastest growing political movement in America today) gathering goes by without some part of Atlas Shrugged being cited. He also points out that a similar movie about the Communist Manifesto would be bad for a similar reason.... except that it's not a book nor even a story... more of a catechism for those inclined to believe it.

I would submit, after reading his entry, that Mr. Schiffelbein really didn't understand the novel or Ms. Rand's message in the novel. Her message wasn't of selfishness, but of self-reliance. Her message was that society will advance further faster if the government stops trying to hold back those who are successful from their endeavours, and stops trying to legislate "fairness" in everything they do. Her message is that the government does nothing as well as an individual with a stake in the results. In essence, Ms. Rand's text is about the rising tide lifting all boats - a truism which holds up today. I would also submit that Mr. Schiffelbein has embodied one of the characters in the novel - Bertram Scudder - with his use of weasel words and innuendo to get his point across.

In essence, what Mr. Schiffelbein is fearful of is that too many people may be exposed - and latch onto - a message that isn't good for socialism in America and abroad. A message that states that the government should be limited in what it does and how it does it. That the government should take caution in what it tries to regulate and why. That the government should stop trying to redistribute wealth lest the productive in society reach their breaking point and finally say "Enough".

I hope for all of our sakes that Mr. Schiffelbein is correct about this movie's reach and influence. It's obvious that those who view Ms. Rand's world view with derision will not be affected by the movie, but then they aren't the people this movie is for. This movie is for the 80% of Americans who self-identify as conservative or moderate and will be open to the idea that self-reliance is better than relying on a government that may or may not be bankrupt.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fairness for everyone

What is fairness? How does one define fairness?

“Fairness” suits Britain’s coalition government so well not just because its meanings are all positive, but also because—like views within the coalition—they are wide-ranging. To one lot of people, fairness means establishing the same rules for everybody, playing by them, and letting the best man win and the winner take all. To another, it means making sure that everybody gets equal shares.
The problem with fairness is that everyone has to agree that something is fair before something is viewed as such. Unfortunately, as the passage points out, fairness is in the eye of the beholder, and it can be used by all sides to mean what they want it to without achieving the same results.

As the economist also says:

We reject the wide, woolly notion of fairness in favour of sharper, narrower words that mean what they say, like just or cruel.
This is a wish that I wish all politicians would or could follow. Too bad it won't happen.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Iran lectures Canada on Human Rights

Yes, you saw that correctly - IRAN is lecturing Canada on it's G20 protests pointing out that the arrests are a violation of human rights.

I know Adrian didn't link to it, but let me put this further into perspective:

Iran, the country which fixes elections and then brutally represses and arrests demonstrators, killing many in the process…

Friday, July 2, 2010

And The Crowd Says, Boycott BP!

And The Crowd Says, Boycott BP!

A great commentary telling you why the BP oil spill is everyone's fault, not just Obama's or Bush's or BP's.

Money quote:

Most of us would complain if we saw even the slightest hike in gas or food prices due to an increase in cost to BP or ExxonMobil or Shell because of more money spent on safety procedures.

Most of us would bemoan any significant increase in the tax on gasoline, even if the proceeds went directly to the creation of alternative forms of energy.

He has a point, although I'm not sure that we need MORE laws, I think that the existing ones need to be clarified and enforced.

Update: I have an idea - let's boycott Citgo for this spill. Citgo being the US subsidiary of the Venezuelan company PDVSA.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Truth about the UN

It may be a comedy routine, but it's no joking matter.

After this post, my girlfriend and I had an interesting discussion about how a country obtains power and influence.

In Norway's case, it isn't particularly populated (being roughly the same population as Alberta and half the land mass), but it does have wealth by virtue owning it's own oil company (bank, aluminum production, electric generation, telecommunications...). It has remained officially neutral in both world wars and it's GDP ranks below the top 20 in the world. Moreover, Norway prefers to let issues be handled through institutions like the UN.

And therein lies it's problem. The comedy routine, while being amusing, isn't actually a joke. That's actually how it happens. So get enough tinpot dictatorships together, and you could deem the United States as a criminal state subject to having its resources confiscated by all the other countries. You can also have them deem Norway's oil wealth is criminal exploitation of the poor countries and as such, should be confiscated for use in lifting those countries out of poverty. Oh wait. Yeah, Norway probably wouldn't like that.

Fact of the matter is that having the top 20 economies of the world, encompassing 66-75% of the total GDP of the world, agree on non-binding goals and actions is much easier and more effective than trying to get all (or a simple majority) of the countries of the world to agree on anything.