Tuesday, January 30, 2007

McGood-Bye

I only made it through half the introduction to Fast Food Nation, and already, I'm off fast food.

Images of chemical plants in New Jersey manufacturing smells and tastes are what did me in.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wow, That Was Quick

I openly admit that I never thought the "new car smell" would completely disappear off the New and Improved Liberal Party™ this soon [Globe & Mail, Dion may let disgraced Liberal back into party]:
The sponsorship scandal came back to haunt Liberals Wednesday after newly minted leader Stephane Dion suggested at least one of the organizers disgraced by the affair should be welcomed back into the party.

Mr. Dion was forced to clarify after telling a Quebec newspaper he has no objections to Marc-Yvan Cote, a former key party organizer in eastern Quebec, being allowed to resume his Liberal membership.

He told Le Soleil that Mr. Cote's punishment was exaggerated, that he'd recognized his error and shouldn't be penalized for life. He stressed, however, that no decision had been made to readmit Mr. Cote and that it was up to the party president to decide.

53 days. That's got to be a record.

Thank you, Mr. Dion, for reconfirming my disbelief in the Liberal Party.

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Prediction : Howard Hampton's Likely Successor in Ontario

James Bow made me think of a Howard Hampton resignation scenario; it was inspired by a comment to my previous post.

If Howard Hampton fails to gain much in this October Ontario election, I predict he'll resign. That's not so bold - he has been leader now for 11 years and at some point, he has probably considered resigning.

If he does resign, the Ontario NDP will be looking for an extremely high-profile candidate to take his place.

I predict that if Howard Hampton resigns as leader of the Ontario NDP, Olivia Chow will go after it and she'll win. She's got face and name recognition. It would mean for the first time spouses would lead the NDP at the same time (at different governing levels, of course). She would likely gain the support of Toronto mayor David Miller and all those who supported Jack Layton in his bid for the federal NDP.

Further, if that scenario held true, the Ontario NDP would likely gain a large number of seats in Toronto, likely all but shutting out the Ontario Liberals in the city.

You heard it here.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ontario NDP Convention : January 26-28, 2007

If I hadn't gone on their website, I would not have known that the Ontario NDP were having a convention this weekend right here in Toronto.

The only news outlet that reported it seems to have been the Ottawa Citizen in a little snippet. I'm presuming the party faithful were notified, but it doesn't seem to have generated a lot of buzz with our intrepid Blogging Dipper friends - unless I missed it.

Is anyone going?

Ontario NDP - Convention 2007

Toronto 2007, the Ontario NDP's 23rd biennial Convention, will be held in the provincial capital, one of the most exciting,vibrant and diverse cities in the world.

Our Convention team is hard at work to ensure Toronto 2007 is fun and engaging as we get ready for the upcoming provincial election.

The Convention will feature exciting keynote speakers. Prominent grassroots activisits have been invited to speak. And training workshops will help you get the word out - Ontario's NDP is the party that will make life better and more affordable for working families.

If that isn't enough, Toronto 2007 will also feature exciting receptions and live music that you won't want to miss.

We're striving to have the largest, most diverse convention ever with delegates from every corner of Ontario. If you have any questions or you need any help signing up, getting credentials, submitting resolutions or finding accommodation or child care, contact Toronto 2007 headquarters.

See you in Toronto!

Considering this is an election year in Ontario, I would have thought this should have generated more news and buzz.

Ontario NDP Convention
Sheraton Hotel
123 Queen St W
Toronto, Ontario
[map]

Information Package [PDF]

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ontario PC Website Makeover Edition

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party's website has had a much needed makeover. Some of the links aren't working yet, but they'll get on it.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Liberal Party would like to know what you plan on doing this holiday season in a fun little online poll. It's hard to believe that 2007 is almost around the corner~!!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dalton McGuinty Planning To Raise Our Taxes Again?

I think it's a valid question.

Now, this isn't a post on the merits of raising, lowering, or maintaining current tax levels; this is just a simple question.

Back in the 2003 Ontario general election, then Opposition Leader Dalton McGuinty promised not to raise taxes, nor to cut them. During his first year in office as Liberal Premier, he raised taxes - breaking that pledge. The Ontario NDP called it an "unfair, regressive health tax." It should be noted at the same time as the health care premium was introduced, health care services available under OHIP were cut.

Mr. McGuinty indicated that his new government was unaware of the financial health of the province and that money due for needed services was unavailable. So, he broke his promise not to raise taxes to address the "social deficit".

Well, now, presumably, he is aware of the financial health of the province, as his ongoing struggle over the fiscal imbalance seems to indicate.

Suppose now that the worst fear held by Premiers is right and that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to disappoint a lot of provinces in addressing the fiscal imbalance to favour Quebec. The fiscal imbalance between Ontario and Ottawa will still exist, and money needed for services will still be required.

Again, we have three by-elections coming up in February well in advance of the federal budget. Premier Dalton McGuinty should know now if he has a plan in place to raise taxes to meet service delivery deficiency if Ottawa does not increase transfer payments. Indeed, he continues to reference the social deficit Ontarians face by the very existence of the fiscal imbalance.

Are his Liberal candidates talking about this while they are campaigning?

Is Dalton McGuinty planning to raise our taxes again?

Updated: Added labels.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Guess Who's Not Up to the Job Again?

Back on June 15, the Ontario Ministry of Energy launched it's Bold New Plan to Clean Up Ontario's Air. Remember?

No? Here it is, in case you forgot [Ontario Ministry of Energy, McGuinty Government Unveils Bold Plan to Clean Up Ontario’s Air]:

The McGuinty government’s aggressive plan to replace coal-fired generation with cleaner sources of energy and conservation will clean up our air, improve the health of our citizens, and contribute to the sustainability of our environment while ensuring a reliable supply of electricity, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said today.

I was going to quote more, but it's like shooting fish in a barrel [CBC, Report reveals Ontario's smoggiest year on record]:

A government report says 2005 was the worst year on record for smog in Ontario and the problem has worsened since the Liberals came to power in 2003.

The data comes from the government's 2005 Air Quality Report, which was quietly released last month.

Now, I could rag on about how releasing a report during December when no one is paying any attention is a bad thing - I know some of my Liberal friends like to point fingers to a certain federal politician - but I think what's more important is the fact that this clearly shows that Dalton McGuinty is still not able to govern.

Meanwhile, get ready for smog advisories in the winter. Further down:

Dr. Ted Boadway, the clean air adviser to the Ontario Medical Association, ... says while there were reductions of acid rain causing nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide in 2005, the report says ozone and fine particulate matter — the major components of smog — remain the pollutants of most concern.

Is there a silver lining for our already beleaguered Ontario Liberal heroes? Of course [Ontario Ministry of the Environment, AIR QUALITY IN ONTARIO 2005 REPORT [PDF]]:

Analysis of smog and weather data strongly indicates that the American Midwest and Ohio Valley Region of the U.S. continue to be significant contributors to elevated ozone and PM2.5 in southern Ontario during the smog season.

That should be good news for the Ontario Liberal Party war room, right? A way out of this horrible mess they've gotten themselves in? A way out of Yet Another Broken Promise™?

Oops. See, the Ontario Liberal Party blamed Ontario for the smog days back in 2003 [CBC, Ontario blames U.S. for smoggy days].

Ontario's Conservative government blames high levels of smog on coal-fired plants in the United States, but the opposition says plants in the province are among the biggest sources of pollution in the country.

...

"We have over 2,000 premature deaths in the province of Ontario. It costs us a billion dollars a year, and yet they're only prepared to point south of the border," said [Liberal Environment critic Jim] Bradley.

Now, it would just look foolish to blame the U.S. now when the Liberals blamed Ontario before and promised to do away with those coal-fired plants. I mean, sure, they changed their mind and won't get rid of the coal-fired plants until the same time that the Progressive Conservative Party planned to, but that's neither here nor there. Right?

Bold promises, bold dreams, followed by an "aw, shucks it's not our fault we can't deliver" press conference with a startling attack on something or somebody else. It's either Mike Harris, Bob Rae, Paul Martin, or Stephen Harper - it's either the fiscal imbalance or the strong Canadian dollar. I can imagine someone around Liberal Party headquarters, even as we speak, looking for a Conservative or a Dipper to blame for this.

It's a common theme with the Ontario Liberal Party. Any time they are unable or unwilling to deliver on one of their campaign or project announcements it is because of everybody and everything else, except Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party.

Dalton McGuinty wants you to believe he shines out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark. That's what he told you back in October of 2003 - and for a moment, you believed him.

There are three by-elections this February, and one general election this October. All you Dippers that voted Liberal to stop Mike Harris, you can go home now. All you Red Tories that voted Liberal to stop Mike Harris, you can go home now, too.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Howard!

One year ago today, Howard Stern began broadcasting on Sirius Satellite Radio.

From MSNBC, Howard Stern’s Sirius question is answered:

It’s true, Stern’s audience is about a third of what he commanded on terrestrial radio. Whether the majority can ever wrap their heads around paying for something they’re used to getting for free remains to be seen. It’s still early in the day for satellite radio. But any questions or criticisms surrounding Stern’s decision to move are now moot. No matter the loss, no matter the cost, the creative freedom is worth it.

Again, to echo the highfalutin, it’s not about the cuss words or the poopy talk. It’s the freedom to swear, or rather not prescreen every syllable before it’s said, that’s blown Stern's show wide open. Between the vomit fetishists and unbleeped fart jokes, real life has room to spread out and tell its story. And that’s interesting and entertaining.

The next significant anniversary is February 6, 2007 - one year that Howard Stern once again began broadcasting in Canada.

Long live Howard.

You Got Peanut Butter in my Nutella!

I do this as a public service message, and only because you've been wondering the same thing deep in your hearts.

Peanut Butter + Nutella != a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sandwich

Is it worth trying out? Sure. It doesn't taste bad, but it doesn't taste like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. I think the Nutella isn't chocolatey enough, or the peanut butter isn't bogus peanut buttery enough.

Or, something.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Green Plan Needs Gonads : Business

Using the economy and business as an excuse for not implementing a comprehensive environmental plan (A Green Plan with gonads), is a bad strategy [Globe & Mail, Green movement getting a blue-chip hue]:

Almost 40 per cent [of chief executive officers, chief financial officers and chief operation officers] said they were less likely to vote Tory in the next election as a result of the replacement of the Kyoto accord with the new provisions.

In Central Canada, 50 per cent of executives said the new act made them less likely to vote Conservative, and among manufacturing executives, almost 60 per cent were in that category.

At the same time, a remarkable 7 per sent of corporate executives said they'd back the Green Party if an election were held right away.

Yes, the survey was done by the Gandalf Group - so there's going to be calls for the validity of the survey - but I think the sentiments expressed are valid. Especially, this one, by Jon Grant, of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Executives are waiting for some targets to be set, and some direction to be given by government, [so] they can follow and buy into it and become part of it.

At the very least, business expects the government to set strict regulations around the environment. Is it better to do it now, or let the issue linger?

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Which Tarot Card Are You?

Chicks dig the Devil.


You are The Devil


Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession


The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.


Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.


The New Chess Master

In a post long ago, I called Jack Layton the master of the game of parliamentary chess.

Now, I agree with Greg (the artist formerly known as Sinister Thoughts):

On the NDP side, Jack is in a real bind. His move on the Liberal budget was seen as a great stroke of political strategy. The NDP spin was that they were able to wring spending out of a weak prime minister who was circling the drain. This is not going to be the perception this time. Say what you will about Harper, but he is not Paul Martin. This time, it is Harper who is maneuvering Layton around in hopes that Layton will be his willing pawn in his repackaging effort. Layton is going to have to score very, very, big to counter the perception among his own voters that he is being used to advance the cause of the Tories, rather than helping out the environment.

If I can expand on this a bit.

This parliament chess board now belongs to the Prime Minister, and the defection of Liberal MP, Wajid Khan, cements it. Jack Layton is in a tremendous bind, as Greg indicates.

The seat distribution is now:

  • The Conservative Party (125) + the NDP (29) = 154 seats.
  • The Liberal Party (101 100) + the Bloc Quebecois (51) = 152 151 seats.
  • Independents Andre Arthur and Garth Turner = 2 seats.

The last thing Jack is going to want to do is to have to vote against a Conservative budget or non-confidence motion in the near term. Why? For the last little while, we have heard nothing out of the Liberal Party except that the NDP caused the last election for short-term election gain - and all those "borrowed votes", to borrow a talking point, will likely go back to the Liberals.

I can see the campaign ads now from the Liberal Party ...

The NDP asked to borrow your vote to elect a Conservative minority. Now, they want your vote to help elect a Conservative majority. Tell Jack Layton, no.

This message will likely resonate huge with swing voters that shift between the Liberals and the NDP, for the "horror" that a Conservative minority has inflicted on their ideals.

So, not only will Jack have to do something to wring something huge out of the Prime Minister, he will have to retain credit for it (Doing Something for Canadians, Again). That retaining credit will be very hard to do since it appears with this latest cabinet shuffle, the Prime Minister is attempting to redo policy in their weakest areas.

If Jack can't get a huge concession from the Prime Minister, I think he'll need to support the Conservative Party on initiatives they may disagree with at least in the short term - very likely (possibly) angering the NDP base.

I don't see either independent, even Garth Turner - as much as he might like to stick it to the man - voting to defeat the government when the next opportunity arises.

Don't get me wrong - I don't know if the Conservative Party wants an election, or believe they can win one. They may, based upon the mantra of "promise made, promise kept" or that the population isn't ready to re-elect the Liberal Party. Who knows.

Interesting times ahead, I guess.

Updated: Actually, I think my math is wrong. I included the Speaker in the Liberal Party totals, who only votes in the case of a tie (and who traditionally votes in favour of the government). I've updated the post, with strikeouts. It means that the independents don't matter ... in a vote of confidence.

Garth, you can feel free to stick it to the man!

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Canada's New Cabinet

With Rona Ambrose now Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, we can safely expect that half of all current Quebecois that consider themselves a nation, will be reduced by 2050.

It's only marginally funny, and it was seriously my first thought.

:-)

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ridiculous Ad : Brita Filters

There's a commercial I just don't get, for two reasons.

It's an ad for Brita water filters, and it shows an empty kitchen with a glass of water sitting on a table. Then, the terlit flushes and the water spirals down the glass and refills. A woman emerges from a room off of the kitchen, presumably from the bathroom.

I was Sherlock Holmes in a previous life.

Anyway, text on the screen says, and I may be paraphrasing somewhat, "Water for drinking and water for the toilet come from the same source."

Then, the pitch that you must use Brita.

Now, for the parts I don't get. I don't mind the flushing and refilling glass - I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for that.

What difference does it make where the water comes from? It's not like water that swished around in your toilet is now swishing around your glass in some post-swishing action In fact, it merely implies that municipally-treated water (which the commercial now disclaims is safe for drinking), is too clean for use in your toilet. If anything, Brita is explaining why we should never flush because it's a waste of perfectly clean drinking water.

Stop flushing!

Secondly, who has a bathroom just off the kitchen? Is that a good idea? If you have that set up, are you really concerned about water quality so much as ... ahem ... air quality, while eating?

I used to have a friend who had a bathroom kind of just off the kitchen. You had to officially step in the hallway first, but then you were in the bathroom. In fact, it was right at the crossroads between the kitchen and the main living room. If you had some "issues", you would be broadcasting them to the entire house, most likely.

Just off the dining room? That's okay because the convenience would overrule any objections - especially on mystery burrito night.

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Two Moms, Afterthought

Just read this comment by Joanne (True Blue) over at Olaf's site and it made me think of something witty as an afterthought to this (now, it's not directed at Joanne specifically - I don't know her).

Some social conservatives, when same-sex marriages were recognized legally, questioned why governments had a role in marriages at all. Why can't they like "civil unions"; it's the same thing, just called differently, they said.

Following that bit of logic, all socially conservative parents that believe that should have themselves declared "step-parents" or "guardians". It's the same thing, right? Just called differently.

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Two Moms

This is what I said back in June, when a case of a same-sex partner requesting parental rights came up:

Ontario should move quickly to remove this impediment restricting same-sex [partners from being named on a child's birth registry]. It seems to me, if the mother of one child wishes their partner, male or female, to be an official parent in the eyes of the law, the law should be consistent. We should be applauding that another adult wants to take parental responsibility for a child in identically the same way as adoption.

I said that based upon the regulations for adopting a child in Ontario.

All Ontario residents are able to adopt a child without discrimination on the basis of such factors as race, religion, age, ethnic origin, mental/physical disability, gender, sexual orientation, or marital status. In intercountry adoptions, the Ministry makes every effort to ensure that adoptive applicants are informed about the laws, requirements, and eligibility criteria of the foreign jurisdiction.

So, it's with no surprise that I applaud this Ontario court decision in this similar case [CBC News, Ontario court says boy can have dad, mom — and mom]:

In the so-called "two-mother" ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal said the biological mother of a five-year-old boy and her same-sex partner can both be legally recognized as mothers of the child. The boy's biological father is still recognized as his dad.

Again, we should be applauding that an adult wants to take on parental responsibility for this child.

The world isn't going to end - it's gotten a bit stronger.

Updated: Olaf, at The Prairie Wrangler says it nicely too.

Do I think that children benefit from a two biological, opposite sex parent household? Possibly, but it's by no means assured. I don't see any reason why there should be government standards preserving the traditional family that for all intents and purposes no longer exists, especially when a traditional family is only as good as the parents who run it. I think a child would benefit from two parents of the same sex who are loving and functional, than a traditional parentage consisting of parents who are detached and dysfunctional.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

This Year in Politics

2007 could be huge for Canadian political geeks, especially in Ontario. In October, Ontarians go to the polls in a general election. If the minority Conservative government fails, we'll see another federal general election, too.

While I believe the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party under John Tory is the best option for Ontario, I have become somewhat disillusioned federally ... which happens, I guess. You either love everything, or find something that ticks you off and makes you move on.

So, in the event of a federal election, I'm at something of a clean slate, and I want to honestly review platforms for the best option when voting.

I thought what I would do is to take a look at some of the issues that are of interest to me, and compare the party's stance on it. As opposed to taking the traditional partisan route, and reviewing a platform and saying how great it is.

I tried that.

I died a little bit inside.

There will be a couple of ground rules for myself:
  • I'll have to completely burn off my short term memory and pretend the last three years in Canadian federal politics did not exist, otherwise I'd never vote Liberal or Conservative. Ever.
  • I can't vote Bloc, so I will likely only include the Conservative, Liberal, NDP, and Green Parties.
Looking back, I've only ever voted NDP, Progressive Conservative, and Conservative. During the last election campaign, I did that CBC Vote by Issue quiz, and the NDP came close to the Conservative Party - so, it may be worthwhile to go through this exercise (at least to me).

Comments will be open on each coming piece - an open space available for you to shill and spin your party's platform :-) .

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