Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Old Liberal Party

One thing I'm not going to miss about the election campaign is this constant reference:
If the Conservative Party were the old Progressive Conservative Party, they'd have a real shot at power.
Scott Brison says it every 5 minutes. He must be the life of a party.

Then, I read this by Adam Radwanski, where he details his trip through the Liberal Youth as a non-Martin supporter [hat tip, Bad Red Apple]; I'd like to suggest that the current Liberal Party is not the old Liberal Party. In that same theme, Sinister Thoughts argues that many left-leaning supporters are wrong in their belief that the Liberal Party is left leaning enough to stop conservatism, believing that the Liberal Party is the same one that was governed by Pierre Trudeau.

The quote from the campaign that comes to mind to underline this - "Liberals campaign like the NDP, but then govern like the Tories".

Canadians have decided that they like the country to be governed by Tories, but now it's safe to campaign like Tories (not entirely, granted, or we wouldn't be in a minority government). Quebec, having long relegated Conservatives to "also rans", has even said that they don't mind electing and supporting Tories - electing an amazing 10 Conservative MPs, and reducing the desire for separation due to the prospect of having another federalist voice in Ottawa, as suggested in a recent poll.

But, what about the Liberal Party? Do I want them vanquished? Gone? Not at all. I think having a mainstream left-leaning party is important.

We don't have one, though.

I think it's healthy to have multiple parties, debating ideas, and that governments change between those ideologies, so new policies and programs can grow.

I think the Liberal Party needs to push out the Martin-only team, the one that seems to be in control of the Liberal Party, as suggested by Adam Radwanski. I think they need this time to rebuild without either Mr. Martin or Mr. Chrétien whispering in somebody's ear. Will that happen? I don't know. I'm not a Liberal.

There is no need to campaign like the NDP and to govern like the Tories. Campaign like Liberals, and govern like Liberals.

In my opinion, because I need a Liberal Party, as much as I need an NDP to challenge my beliefs, I believe that if the Liberal Party wants to win the next general election, it must become the old Liberal Party.

Take that, Mr. Brison.

Updated: It looks like the poll that I quoted in this piece about the drop in support for sovereignty has been corrected to reflect new numbers [Toronto Star, Poll still shows drop in sovereignty support]:
The revised poll numbers indicate the number of Quebecers who supported an independent Quebec dropped to 37 per cent after the election from 40 per cent before the Jan. 23 vote.

The original results pegged support for sovereignty at 34 per cent after the federal election and 43 per cent before.


Claude Gauthier, vice-president of CROP, said in an open letter in La Presse today that the problems came to light after a thorough analysis of the makeup of the respondents.

"More non-francophones were contacted at the end of the poll and more residents of the island of Montreal, as well as, to a lesser degree, a few more women," he wrote.

"These are variables that figure prominently in the political opinions and which usually give the advantage to the federalist options and parties.
I've updated the original reference with the new link.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Conservative Minority Government

The Conservative Party is going to form a minority government, and it looks like a partnership with a surging NDP holding the balance of power, could be a possibility.

Hopefully, we'll see the platform for electoral reform pushed through. And, if I can just say - the NDP gets 18% of the vote, but takes in less seats then the Bloc who just get 9%? If it is not a system that needs to be fixed, I don't know one that does.

A justice and crime package could be pushed through as well, as both the Conservatives and NDP were talking that before.

I'm wondering how the tax package will work out. I think the NDP could support the GST cut, in exchange maybe for a larger infrastructure investment that the Conservatives have indicated could be on the table.

A big question to come ... will Paul Martin resign, or will he stay on as Leader of the Loyal Opposition?

Something else that is interesting, is that it looks like there will be no government caucus members from the big cities - no Conservatives leading in Toronto (too bad, Peter - next time!), Vancouver, or Montreal. I don't know how that's going to play out.

It's going to be an interesting several months.

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Comment Moderation Temporarily On

Because I also run a political-based blog, and a Canadian election is currently under way, I am enabling comment moderation on all my affiliated blogs until after 10 pm EST to make sure that election results aren't posted illegally.

Thanks for your patience.

Feels icky, I know.

Updated: I've turned comment moderation off @ 10:06 pm.

Comment Moderation - Temporarily Until Polls Close

I just got spooked into turning on comment moderation until after the polls close. While I'm a big supporter of free speech, I'm not a big supporter of me getting into trouble by having my comments section filled with results as they trickle in. There are other sites that I won't name that may or may not be showing the results as they trickle in, if they trickle in.


I will be monitoring the comments until after all the polls close at which point I'll disable comment moderation.

I hate comment moderation.

Updated: I've turned comment moderation off @ 10:04 pm. Let 'er rip.

Voting for the 39th Canadian General Election is Under Way

If you haven't voted yet, there is still time. Even if your vote is "none of the above", please spoil your ballot so it is counted.

From Elections Canada [Election Night: Preliminary Results]:
OTTAWA, Monday, January 23, 2006 — Elections Canada will begin posting preliminary results for the general election at www.elections.ca shortly after the last polls close at 10:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Monday, January 23. The preliminary results are unfiltered and are continually updated on the Web site after 10:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).

As soon as a poll closes, the deputy returning officer in charge counts the votes and calls the results to the returning officer for that electoral district. The returning officer immediately relays them electronically to Elections Canada.

At the same time, the results are sent to the computers of the Media Consortium. The Consortium is established by the national media during a general election as a co-operative effort to centralize the collection and distribution of election night preliminary voting results. The Consortium distributes the results as they are received to national, regional and local media members and to the Web sites of Canada’s main news outlets. The members of the Consortium include CBC and its French-language sister SRC; CTV; Global TV; TVA; CHUM Television; and The Canadian Press and Broadcast News/La Presse Canadienne and Nouvelles Télé-Radio.

The validation of results for the general election will take place in most ridings on Tuesday, January 24, 2006.

Further information on the process for posting preliminary results, the validation of results and judicial recounts is available at www.elections.ca in the "General Information" section.

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.
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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Everybody's Doing It

Today is Election Eve here in Canada, and I'm essentially doing what everybody else is doing and pulling numbers out of my assumptions.

Conservative Party - 139
Liberal Party - 79
Bloc Québécois - 57
NDP - 33

This will present itself as a stable minority because each Opposition party represents a "balance" of power and no two can defeat the government.

Do I have any sweeping election predictions? Not really.

I think we'll see two leaders resign in the coming weeks - Liberal Party leader, Paul Martin, and Green Party leader, Jim Harris. I think the Greens will show strong - maybe even showing up second in some ridings - but not strong enough to win a seat. This will likely be Mr. Harris's last kick at the can. I think in the next phase, the Greens will swing back to the near fringe left.

In case I won't be around too much after the election, I thought I would respond now with my post election thoughts and commentary.
Wow! I can't believe we have a [Liberal, Conservative] [minority, majority]! That's got me so [stoked, depressed] beyond belief! I knew it was going to [be close, be a landslide], but I had no idea! This election has confirmed to me that [democracy just simply does not work, democracy is the single greatest human institution ever].

Goodbye [Belinda Stronach, Scott Brison, Tony Valeri, Anne McLellan, all of the above, some of the above]!

Who gave [Jason Kenney, Gilles Duceppe] a microphone?

How long before [Paul Martin, er ... just Paul] resigns?

Say what you want about the guy, but you really got to hand it to [Stephen Harper, Paul Martin]. If it weren't for [Jean Chrétien, Rick Mercer, Ralph Klein, Scott Reid, Stephen Harper, that dude who plays that 16-year old interviewer on This Hour Has 22 Minutes], the election would have turned out completely different!

Well, since it's a [minority, majority], looks like the next election is [in several months, in 4 years, never - all hail Emperor Klang!].
Meh. Seemed funnier when I wasn't so tired. :)

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Friday, January 20, 2006

You And Me Both ...


It's bad enough he made you wear the hat, but there's no reason you have to listen to him.

Atta boy.

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Liberal Candidate Endorses Conservative Candidate

Gilles Savard, the Liberal Party candidate for the Quebec riding of Jonquière-Alma endorses Conservative Party candidate, Jean-Pierre Blackburn [CBC, Liberal candidate concedes defeat in Quebec, then backtracks]:
"It's certain that tomorrow I won't be the member here," said Savard. "That said, in my mind I'm sure that Mr. Blackburn should be the next member, that's how I see it."
Mr. Savard then clarified his position [Canadian Newswire, Clarification from the candidate Gilles Savard]:
... I encourage all voters to exercise their democratic right, I hope that they will support candidates with federalist convictions who have the interests of Canada at heart.
This is a good message for everyone to take to the voting box in Quebec.

I will say, this election has got more twists and turns in it than professional wrestling. I'm waiting for somebody else to do a face turn. They should start issuing programs, because I can't keep track of who is supporting who anymore.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Central Governance

This is something of an open thread, because I have a question.

I believe in "keeping local decisions local," in that each level of government exert sole influence in its area of responsibility, and upper levels stay out unless invited. One of the things I see played out is that we need a stronger central government to maintain a "national vision". The Liberal Party is asking us to, "Choose your Canada."

Why do we believe the federal government decides what that national vision is? Now, that may seem like a silly question (considering I'm asking why the federal government decides what the national vision is), but it's not.

For me, I don't elect Alberta, or New Brunswick, or Quebec Members of Parliament to represent what I want in health care, education, or social justice. I elect Toronto councillors and Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament for that.

The traditional powers of the federal government have been:
  • National defense
  • International trade and international relations
  • Currency and monetary policy
  • And, more recently, enforcement of the Constitution
You may argue, and argue correctly, that health care, education and social justice are more important now than when the powers were originally divided up. You may then argue that perhaps the federal government gave up too much in negotiating the power sharing. That's the debatable part.

My position is, the municipalities and the provinces should be defining local strategies and setting local standards under the rights and laws defined in the Constitution. The combination of those local strategies form the national strategy that a federal government should represent. It should not be the other way around - the federal government deciding a national strategy and then selling it to the provinces.

I think this latter method of governing Canada has led to ...
  • Feelings of alienation in Quebec and Alberta, as provincial issues are constantly challenged and overruled. When Paul Martin said, "I will look Ralph Klein in the eye and say, 'No' ", in regards to the (mistaken) belief that Alberta was going to launch private health care ... why is it Paul Martin's job to do that?
  • The belief that there is a fiscal imbalance, because a program that is launched nationally, must be sold provincially (or municipally), and each individual target has a different perception of the program benefits. The thought that, a province needs more money to meet a federal government's (and, by extension, the electorate's) level of service for this "national" vision.
And, with the last few federal governments, the governing party has rarely had broad representation from across the country. In 1993, Parliament was extremely fragmented regionally - the Bloc Ontario (Liberals), the Bloc Quebecois (Quebec) and the Bloc West (Reform). It hasn't completely healed, although the Conservative Party is now showing strength in every part of the country, but it certainly doesn't represent the views of all Canadians.

So, I ask you, because I'm interested in hearing other thoughts - is the federal government the best vehicle for a national vision? Why do we need to "Choose our Canada"?

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Why Internet Polls Can't Be Trusted

Canoe Politics, Canada Votes:

What I find kind of funny (or sad), is that the "94%" bar looks more like 65% - which is closer to the truth, but still a bit off.

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Coffee: Is There Anything it Can't Do?

According to recent research, caffeine may help to improve a woman's - ahem - desire [Food Production Daily, Caffeine could be Viagra for women, study]. I think I know why it's true:

Drinking moderate amounts of coffee may increase a woman’s desire for sex, suggests a new US study on female rats.

The research, conducted by Fay Guarraci, an assistant professor of psychology at Southwestern University, and Staci Benson, a recent graduate there, is the first to examine the interaction between caffeine and sex in females.


They found the caffeine shortened the amount of time it took the females to return to the males after receiving an ejaculation, suggesting that the females were more motivated to have sex.
You know how I know this is true? Simply because it removes the number one reason for not having sex [National Headache Foundation, Caffeine and Headache]:

Adding 130 mg of caffeine to a regular, two-tablet dose of common ingredients found pain relievers (aspirin and acetaminophen) makes them relieve headache pain about 40% better than they do without caffeine. Caffeine also helps your body absorb these medications, allowing you to get back to your daily life faster.

Because analgesics work better when they have caffeine added, you may be able to take less medicine when you have a headache. And because even non-prescription medications are real medicine with the potential for side effects, taking less reduces the risks associated with inappropriate use.
There you go. Not only will coffee build up her drive, but it will also get rid of "headaches".


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Friday, January 13, 2006

Anybody Hit the Wall Yet?

I think I'm starting to suffer from campaign fatigue.

I think if I hear "fundamentally" or "we're not making this up" or "we're going to deliver this" or "we're going to deliver that" one more time, I'm going to hurl myself from a window.

If an election date is set, can we use the notwithstanding clause to move it up a couple of weeks?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Support the Notwithstanding Clause

Recently, in the English language debate, Prime Minister Paul Martin pledged to remove the ability of the federal government to use the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It appears that he would not do a constitutional change, but a "ban" on its use.

[... As an aside, I thought he said during the debates, "through constitutional means" which kind of implies a constitutional change. That is, it would require assent from the House of Commons and the Senate, plus ratification from 7 provinces comprising 50% of the population - likely needing Ontario and Quebec. Quebec would never agree to that - considering they currently use it themselves. Of course, that's the provincial use, not the federal ... anyway, I'm going to skip this part and leave it for another day ...]

What is the notwithstanding clause? The short, somewhat legal definition:

The federal Parliament or a provincial legislature may declare a law or part of a law to apply temporarily "notwithstanding" countermanding sections of the Charter, thereby nullifying any federal/provincial or judicial review by overriding the Charter protections for a limited period of time. This is done by including a section in the law clearly specifying which rights have been overridden. The rights to be overridden, however, must be either a fundamental right (e.g., section 2 freedom of speech, religion, association, etc), a legal right (e.g., liberty, search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, etc), or a section 15 equality right. Other rights such as section 6 mobility rights, democratic rights, and language rights are inalienable.
In short, if a law enforcing a right guaranteed by the Charter is passed or a court decision renders a decision citing a legal precedent that a law violates the Charter, a government (provincial or federal) can override that decision temporarily. The premise being, that they can amend the law so it comes into line with the Charter.

The Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms guarantees Canadians rights before and under the law - freedom of speech, religion, among others ... as well as freedom from discrimination.

On the surface, the notion that Parliament (whether federal or provincial) could override the Charter is pretty scary.

It has only been done once - that I'm aware of, and correct me if I'm wrong - to suspend the rights of English-speaking Canadians in Quebec so that Quebec can enforce French-only language laws. That one, was done by the Quebec Premier. It has only been considered for use by one Prime Minister, and that's current Liberal Prime Minister, Paul Martin - in the case of same-sex marriage, if the Supreme Court ruled that clergy in churches that did not sanction same-sex marriage must perform the ceremonies as guaranteed by the Charter.

I think, equally scary, is the notion that the Supreme Court could decide constitutional matters with no check from Parliament. Let me give you an analogy. To me, the notwithstanding clause is a fire extinguisher - when there's a fire, you need it.

If the Supreme Court rules improperly or has misinterpreted the intent of the Constitution or a law passed by Parliament - it is a legal body who must rule on the letter of the law - Parliament would have no ability to pause the decision and get the law straightened around, or no means to pause the decision to have the Court re-examine the case (I don't even know if that's possible).

I think it's completely and perfectly legitimate to debate the use of the notwithstanding clause - but to remove it completely, is something that needs to be carefully thought through. I think Parliament, arbitrarily using the clause because it simply does not like a Court ruling for ideological reasons, is wrong.

In addition, the notwithstanding clause has a built in time-limit in that it needs to be re-applied every 5 years, which I feel is a good check. Because that gives Parliament the time to:

(a) Study the decision before it takes immediate effect,
(b) re-evaluate and / or rewrite the law that was overridden, or
(c) potentially amend the constitution.

Within that 5-year period, if the government that invoked the notwithstanding clause did nothing, it would become an election issue and the government would need to go to the people in that case.

Have a look at what others think:

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm Not Weird

So, I got tagged by Section 15 on this weird meme thing - it's because I commented on his toes ... my fault, I know. I have to list 5 weird things about me.

1) I don't do it as much now, but I had a habit of counting my steps between the cracks in the sidewalk. The short ones took about 2 steps to cross, and the long ones running through driveways about 3. No, I'm not obsessive-compulsive.

2) I have not found a food that does not mix well with peanut butter - pickles, barbecue chips, onions, ham ... I'm convinced peanut butter is the new butter.

3) I can never properly pronounce the word "accompaniment". I usually slow down and say it phonetically or say it really fast to get over the "-companiment" part. I keep thinking I'm adding more letters than there actually is.

4) I'm a frequent victim of deja vu.

And, since there's a theme about foot issues ...

5) I don't have knuckles or full toe nails in my pinky toes. I consider myself evolutionary because scientists a hundred years ago said we wouldn't have pinky toes - I appear to be the missing link between the "Pinkies" and the "No Pinkies".

I have no idea who to tag ... as I tagged a bunch of people for the 4 meme.

I will, however, tag Socialist Swine right off the bat, and think about the rest.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Not Dead Yet

... I plan on resuming blogging shortly.

Tonight's the last election debate, and I'm sure I'll have something pithy to say afterward.

That is, if I've decided not to watch wrestling.

Toronto's own, Edge is the WWE Champion!!


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Which Superhero Are You?

This one courtesy of Simon Pole.

Your results:

Iron Man

Iron Man
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Rhetric Conversion Table

I really got a kick out of this.

Balbulican over at Stageleft has created the Rhetric Conversion Table.

In the challenging weeks ahead, rising demand will be threatening our already depleted stocks of synthetic indignation. Here’s a handy tool for cranking out a righteously wrathful blast during those inevitable moments when your Gland o’ Indignation is feeling a bit flaccid. We call it a Rhetric Conversion Table. Have fun.
When I wrote my last post, I stumbled across "lapse in judgment".

Obviously when we do it, it's a "lapse in judgment"; when they do it, it's "premeditated".

Go have a read.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Please Resign, Mr. Takhar

The Ontario Integrity Commissioner has found that Ontario Liberal Transport Minister, Harinder Takhar, violated the Members Integrity Act which says that all personal business interests must be kept in a blind trust [CBC Toronto, Integrity commissioner reprimands minister]:
Integrity Commissioner Coulter Osborne said Takhar violated that directive by appointing the chief financial officer of his riding association as the person responsible for handling his business affairs.
The Integrity Commissioner formally reprimanded the Minister.

Why is he still in Cabinet? This decision carries the possibility of having Mr. Takhar's seat declared vacant. If his seat is not to be vacated or Mr. Takhar suspended, why is he still in Cabinet?

Mr. Takhar has been under a cloud since June 2005, and he wasn't vindicated via the Integrity Minister. Who in their right mind believes that appointing the CFO from your riding association (somebody you work with) is putting your affairs into a blind trust? If he genuinely got advice that that was okay, that person needs to go too.

Honestly, Mr. Takhar has largely been unable to perform public duties as Minister without being peppered with questions. Now, with this reprimand, do we think the questions are going to stop?

Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty indicated that Mr. Takhar had a "lapse in judgment."

Like Premier, like Minister.

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Election Present For Me

It's official.

My second-born will come into the world on January 24.

I have the pleasure of knowing that, regardless of who wins on the 23rd, the 24th will be a great day.


Socialist Swine has tagged me with the Four Meme.

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Skate sharpener, lawn care professional, burger cook, and government research assistant.

Four movies you could watch over and over:
The Blues Brothers, Monty Python: The Meaning of Life, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and The Empire Strikes Back.

Four places you've lived:
Oshawa (Ontario), Waterloo (Ontario), Scarborough (Ontario), and Toronto (by way of Scarborough/Toronto amalgamation).

Four TV shows you love to watch:
The Simpsons (Fox), Supernatural (CityTV), Family Guy (Fox), and Prison Break (Fox).

Four places you've been on vacation:
Havana, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Miami, and Charlottetown (PEI).

Four websites you visit daily:
Reality Blurred, Online Onslaught, BBC News Americas, and Yahoo! Fantasy Sports.

Four of your favorite foods:
Singapore noodles, pad thai, cheese (the older, the better), and BBQ'd beefeater steak - the kind I get from Loblaws (I don't know if "beefeater" is an actual cut, but it's thick and red).

Four places you'd rather be:
This is tough. I'm happy here (I'm appealing to the patriots among us :) ), but if I had to choose 4 of the next best places: Miami, Glasgow, Victoria (BC), and London (UK).

Four albums you can't live without:
Ten (Pearl Jam), S&M (Metallica), Garbage (Garbage), and Alice in Chains: MTV Unplugged.

Four vehicles I've owned:
1990 Chev Corsica LT sedan, 2000 Chev Cavalier sedan, 2004 Pontiac Montana (extended wheelbase), and a 2005 Chev Cobalt LS sedan.

So, assuming this is how it works, I tag the following four people for this meme:
G_Pi @
Notes Abbreviated
Ryan @ They Hate Us For Our Freedoms
Zorpheous @ The Wingnuterer
Glen @ Red vs. Blue

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Paul Martin, Guaranteeing Wait Times?

"This is the most indisputably meaningless policy. What is Martin going to do? Will he impose wait times on the provinces? Will he withhold money if they fail and thus make it more difficult to succeed? The whole thing really is meaningless as far as I can tell."

Of course, I paraphrase.

So, since it seems that their policies are the same, they're both equally meaningless.

But, for some reason, the Liberal policy doesn't allow for the flexibility of funding health treatments outside of Canada in the case where Canada can't meet the guarantee. Why is that? What happens in that case? I'm genuinely curious. I would think that we would want to ensure that if a patient cannot get access to timely care, that we would stop at nothing to ensure that care is delivered.

That's what's ultimately important: the patient!

Of course, this is not an official release. There has been no need to implement the Kirby Report's recommendation for health care guarantees up until this point.

Afterall, it's meaningless.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

What's Wrong with Kids These Days?

Happy New Year's everyone - I thought I'd share a New Year's Eve anecdote with my audience.

Time for an old man rant.

I shovelled my driveway and my sidewalk yesterday, in the hopes of beating the huge pile of snow that was inevitably going to build up overnight - knowing full well I'd likely have no desire to do it today. I also routinely do the sidewalks of my two neighbours.

About half way through, three teenagers - all able-bodied - walked past me. They looked at me, and then kept walking.

Not that I needed the help, but when I was their age I would have hit me up for money to shovel it. There's been a couple of snowfalls last year where I've just about handed the shovel to the first kid to walk by. I don't even know what the going rate is for snow shovelling.

I can remember the lawn cutting and snow shovelling market was fast-paced and highly competitive when I was a teen. I remember that if I didn't routinely go by my regular customers' places to remind them I was there and ready to work, they'd have forgotten about me and somebody else would have surely undercut me.

My leg up was that I advertised myself in local senior centres which built me up a steady stream of clientele - that meant I didn't need to rely on door-to-door sales for the bulk of my trade. I could easily rake in $50-$100 a week (tax free!) for about 10 hours of labour, and I didn't have to ask if you wanted fries with that. Spring and fall were the worst periods, of course - no snow, and the grass wasn't growing, but raking, yard cleaning, painting, staining, and pruning could help ease the tight periods.

Grass cutting was more steady and predictable, regardless of the weather - snow shovelling less so, but potentially more lucrative if it snowed a lot.

Now, I'm not old - I only just turned 32, so this was only 15-20 years ago... Wow. Say that again - "15-20" years ago. WOW. I am old ... ahem ... so this isn't like it happened in the olden days.

I wonder how these kids afford those cell phones they carry around.

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