Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Two Different People Make an Interesting Point Together

James Bow:
Those principled conservatives in particular, taking the MPs to task, including Harper himself, are probably especially disappointed, since after finally electing somebody new to replace the increasingly arrogant and corrupt Liberal government, the new guys have shown themselves to be discouragingly similar [to t]he old.

Check.

Idealistic Pragmatist:

This is also why I can't agree with the analysts who point to the PC-Reform merger as a success story for conservatives. Sure, it bought the Conservative Party of Canada power, but at what cost? The Red Tory faction now has no political home.

Check.

Now what do I do? No idea.

Barrel of Fish with all the Shooting

Dueling press releases.

Attorney General To Overhaul Victim Services, Ontario Liberal Party press release:
In the longer term and as recommended by the Ombudsman, [Attorney General Michael] Bryant will overhaul the current compensation system. The Attorney General will appoint an independent expert to hold meaningful, thorough and broad-based consultations on a proposed new framework with victims' organizations and communities.

Ombudsman Finds Ontario Broke its Promise to Crime Victims, Ministry of Attorney General Acting Contrary to Law, Ombudsman Ontario press release:

But governments have been unable or unwilling to act, and "have chosen to watch with eyes wide shut as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board has degenerated into the failed institution it is," Mr. Marin says. "Instead, governments, including the current one, have chosen the oldest delay strategy known to bureaucracy - pretending to act by studying the thing to death."

Emphasis mine.

Ontario Liberal Party press release:

"I want to thank Ombudsman André Marin and his staff for their work on this important issue," said Bryant. "We share the view that the current compensation system for victims of violent crime requires immediate action. I am committed to making changes to ensure the government better responds to the needs of victims in a timely and compassionate manner."

Ombudsman's release:

While the Board has serious systemic problems of its own, the primary responsibility for this "colossal failure" lies with the Government of Ontario, Mr. Marin says, "because it has, through its Ministry of the Attorney General, developed a culture that is unsupportive of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, and because it has made promises in the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act which have not been kept.

Emphasis mine.

Ontario Liberal Party press release:

In 2006-07, the government allocated an additional $5.2 million to the board over and above its current budget to assist with claims-related costs. The board's budget makes up approximately 22 per cent of planned spending on victim services. It is part of an ever-growing network of victims' programs and services across Ontario.

Ombudsman's release:

"The Ministry of the Attorney General is acting contrary to the law and interfering with the Board's autonomy by limiting the money available to the Board to fund its awards."

Good night, folks.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Keep Me Out of the Kitchen

Here is something else that didn't work as much as I thought it should have.

Yogurt + Freezer != Frozen Yogurt

I put a container of yogurt in the freezer, and it, well, okay - it did turn into frozen yogurt, but not frozen yogurt, the kind you'd get at Yogen Fruz. I'm not entirely sure why I thought it was just a simple matter of shoving yogurt into the freezer.

It was rock solid, and I couldn't get a spoon into it.

Human Rights and the Rule of Law

I don't often answer questions posed in another blog's comments, but I thought I would this time. I was reading a piece over at The Phantom Observer, regarding the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to rule that the current way security certificates are implemented is unconstitutional. Victor argues that the Supreme Court's decision was right. One commenter, Ian, disagrees:
Question ? If you are not a Canadian citizen how can you be afforded protection under the Canadian constitution?

The simple answer is basic human decency calls for it, that's why. Do unto others, as you would have done unto you. It's unconscionable to suggest that there are people that should not be afforded protections granted under the rule of law.

Now, read this [Toronto Star, Canadian boy caught in Texas detention]:

A 9-year-old Canadian boy is in a Texas detention centre after his flight to Toronto made an unscheduled stop and U.S. officials detained his family.

Now the boy's Iranian parents are pleading with Canadian officials to help secure the family's release from the immigration holding facility, which has come under fire for allegedly detaining children in sub-standard conditions.

"All the time he is asking me, `Why am I wearing the uniform? Why I am here?'" the boy's mother said, as she sobbed during a telephone interview from the detention facility yesterday.

"We didn't do nothing. My child is innocent."

[H/T, Verbena-19]. The 9-year old is being held at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center.

We can see what happens to Canadians when they are not treated with basic human dignity overseas; we rightly fight to bring them home.

We should fight to ensure that those who arrive in Canada are treated with all due protections of the law, and we should fight to ensure that Canadians unjustly treated overseas receive our full support.

Annamarie, from Verbena-19, is asking everyone to contact Peter MacKay, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, about this little boy.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

BRITNEYWATCH 2007

The following is a important news bulletin.

[insert heavy drum beating and trumpet blowing]

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

We are here to report on the latest happenings in the life of Britney Spears.

She has or has not maybe re-entered rehab, or she has or has not married someone she may or may not have known for either 5 seconds or all her life. We are also unclear if she has or has not shaved her head or anyone else's.

What is known for sure, is that she has maybe or maybe not exposed herself in front of a camera somewhere with or without someone else.

Reports are sketchy, but we want to keep you, the public, informed on the updates as they occur.

Tune in again in about 15 minutes for more developments. Or, just hit refresh on this post every 15 minutes and re-read the same thing.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I Will Wait for the Translation

John McCallum, quoted in the Toronto Star, commenting on the "pre-election" spending spree the Conservative Party is on:
"It seems there is no limit to the hypocrisy of this government, because when they were in opposition they would slam us at every opportunity for spending the budget at the end of the year, the `March madness,' and now I think they've gone mad themselves," says McCallum, MP for Markham-Unionville.

McCallum says the Liberals believed it was "appropriate" to spend year-end surplus money "in important investments like the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and other things."

"The difference is we never said it was wrong to do. They say it's wrong to do and now they're doing it."

I am confused.

Does Mr. McCallum believe the spending is right or wrong, or is it right or wrong dependent upon whether who spends it says the spending is right or wrong?

In short, does he agree with the spending, or not? I can't figure that part out.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Parallels

Back here, I told you I was reading Fast Food Nation. Well, I finished.

Now, I'm not sure what the legalities are around quoting a book in a blog are, so I won't bother quoting, but I will refer to the book for one interesting parallel.

In the afterword, it discusses the early belief that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow disease") could be spread when ruminants ate the meat of infected ruminants, and that consumption of BSE-tainted beef was dangerous to humans. This warning went back as far back as 1986.

The short of that story was that when it was initially proposed, it was dismissed; sold as "junk science".

Governments indicated that there was nothing to worry about; that enforcing regulations based upon this would cause the agriculture industry to fail.

Does that sound like a story you've read before?

NDP and Ontario Progressive Conservatives : Immigration

A federal NDP initiative [H/T, Accidental Deliberations] coincides nicely with a Ontario Progressive Conservative pledge introduced last November to help integrate new immigrants into Ontario.

The NDP initiative:
The proposal includes an agency with an internet portal and a toll free line which would act as a one-stop shop where new and potential immigrants could access information on assessment criteria, information on education and licensing bodies and recognition processes. This information and pre-assessment should be made available at orientation sessions at international visa offices so potential immigrants can get assessment and accreditation prior to their arrival to Canada. The agency should be integrated with Service Canada so there is help available in different regions across Canada.

This proposal closely matches the one proposed by the Ontario PC Party who have pledged resources and the expansion of existing resources to help , last November, which I'll summarize (again) here.

  • Building a really useful, cutting edge web portal that provides accurate credentialing information and opportunities for potential immigrants before they move to Canada. The same portal could and should deliver courses to help people Canadianize their credentials.
  • Expand the Ontario Student Assistance Program to make loans available for new Canadians bridging or upgrading their training.
  • Provide more supports for ESL training – to lower the language barriers that
    stand in the way of so many new Canadians’ success.
  • Use the platform of TVO to provide effective general language, training and integration information to help new immigrants to adjust to Canada. Training materials produced by TVO would be available on-line to people waiting to come to Canada.
  • Leverage on our existing system of colleges and universities and support them in providing training opportunities overseas.
  • Expand bridging, mentoring and work experience programs for new Canadians by including more small and medium sized businesses. These programs must be attractive, accessible and affordable for smaller enterprises.
Obviously, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives can only devote resources and plans towards helping new immigrants to Ontario, but it's great to see a federal party take the same initiative to the federal level. If the NDP initiative gains steam federally, then a John Tory-led Ontario would complement and strengthen the initiative as a whole.

And, if it stalls at the federal level because the federal Conservatives or Liberals are unwilling to support such an initiative, again, a John Tory-led Ontario would show that such an immigrant-support plan is feasible and positive.

Issues around immigration are truly non-partisan, and it's fantastic to see that the federal NDP and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives coming together with similar plans.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Stephen Harper Must Support Kyoto

Stephen Harper will not win an election opposing Kyoto, and I think he realizes that [CBC, PM says he will 'respect' Kyoto bill]:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he would respect the passage of a bill that requires the government to meet its commitments to Kyoto, but suggested that there's nothing in the legislation for him to act on.

...

"Of course, if and when that becomes law, the government would respect it," Harper said in the House of Commons during question period Thursday.

"I'll just point out that the bill has no plan of action in it; the bill gives the government no authority to spend any money to actually have a plan of action."

Strategically speaking, the Conservative Party cannot campaign on an anti-Kyoto platform. It won't work - simply put, there aren't enough votes out there to win an anti-Kyoto election. The Clean Air Act was a bust in the public's eye, so any attempt at a New and Improved Made in Canada Clean Air Act will fail too.

If the Conservatives approach the Green Party or the NDP to develop a Kyoto plan, they will win the next election - it will be implied that their previous attempt failed to deliver strong enough measures and they have now realized they should approach one of the parties reputed to be strong on environmental issues (one that they don't normally compete with on votes) to come up with an effective plan.

By doing this, the Conservatives will get the rub on the environment without attempting to look like they are simply "greening" their image.

The Liberals will claim that the Conservatives have "flip-flopped" - but that's okay. It's not bad politics to flip to the right position. No one has ever lost an election because they implemented policy desired by the people.

Implementing the will of Parliament and a strong Kyoto plan would do more damage to the election hopes of the Liberal Party than playing witty commercials attacking the Liberal Party record.

Update: Yes, I know the right answer is he shouldn't implement Kyoto for strategic purposes; he should do it for a deep belief in the fact that Canada can control its greenhouse gas emissions and make a meaningful contribution to the world's effort.

Take it any way you can get it, I say.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Best Idea for Tim Hortons Ever

I believe this is the best idea Tim Hortons never even thought of; but, they can take this idea if they want. Just as long as they name it after me.

First, a bit of background. I love the Tim Hortons breakfast sandwiches. I think they are like 3 kabillion times better than an Egg McMuffin, and contrary to Torontoist's opinion, I think the Tim Hortons sandwich looks 100 times better too.

Anyway, McDonald's has a different sandwich offering than just the Egg McMuffin. They have the McGriddle. Essentially, it's a breakfast sandwich that can come complete with all your favourite greasy goodness - bacon or sausage, cheese, and egg - but instead of an English muffin or a biscuit or something, it's shoved in between two pancakes infused with syrup.

In short, it's a breakfast buffet in a sandwich. It's brilliant.

Well, Tim Hortons must compete and so I got to thinking.

Tim Hortons does the breakfast sandwich. What does Tim Hortons have that is sweet and could hold in a whole pile of breakfast sandwich goodness? Don't make me draw you a picture.

That's right: doughnuts (or donuts, whatever).

Tim Hortons should offer the Donut Breakfast Sandwich! Customers could put their choice of fillings - egg & cheese, bacon, or sausage - and shove it inside their choice of donut. The donut would be masterfully cut in half and filled with all that good stuff.

What says Canada more than a maple dip donut filled with bacon, cheese and egg? That's good eatin'.

Administrivia

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted here. My apologies.

I do have a new post about to come up, but I wanted to get something out of the way. I've since upgraded to the new version of Blogger. One of the things I'm going to be doing over here is to eliminate the use of the Technorati tags and fully embracing the Blogger labels.

As I said over here, I'm probably going to play around with the template so I can take advantage of the various widgets and whatnot.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

George Smitherman and the Hard Right-Wing Group Hug Agenda

John Tory wants to put soldiers on our streets.

With hugs.

I'm not making this up.

They had George Smitherman on the CBC Toronto News at Six last night commenting on the new ads out promoting John Tory.

If you go to the CBC Toronto website, click on "Latest News at Six Broadcast" and go to about the 13:15 mark, you'll see it.

In a nutshell, Mr. Smitherman accused John Tory of both wanting to govern via a "group hug" and of harbouring a hard right-wing agenda, by relying on the opinions "Mike Harris' cronies have imposed upon him".

That's right. John Tory is going to impose a hard right-wing group hug agenda.

Has George Smitherman jumped the shark?

I mean, don't get me entirely wrong, he started out okay - the piece said something about him saying the ads lacked substance which I entirely disagree with, but it was at least a reasonable partisan attack.

But, what's a hard right-wing group hug agenda?

Now, I appreciate Mr. Smitherman's role as the "attack dog" - he can feel free to attack the opposition while the Premier can continue to look all statesman-like, but come on.

Is this the best the Grits can offer?

For those of you keeping track, we have to watch out for:

Mind the Dust

So, I was forced to upgrade this blog to the new version of Blogger. So far so good, it would seem. I'm going to play with the template over the next little while to see if I can get those widget things to work.

I'm also going to stop using the Technorati tags at the bottom of the post and start using the Google labels. It's keeping me awake at night.

Update: Wow, the spinner thing telling about the posting status is gone. It's now fast. Welcome to the 90's Blogger! :)

Update x 2: I've just noticed that since the upgrade, my posts don't auto-populate over at the Canadian Blog Exchange when you click on the "View Related Articles" link down below and subsequently hit the Add New Post link. I don't know if that's a known issue, or it's unique to me.

It might be because I'm using an Old World Blogger template with the new blogger, or what have you.

Update x 3: I want widgets without changing my template. That's the next thing to keep me up at night.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tomayto Tomahto

Jeff over at BCer in Toronto references an article today that talks about the Conservative-partisan appointments to the judicial review committee. He asks, "Worried about electing a Liberal government?"

Don't fret. Apparently the courts will keep us in check...

Good catch. However, there is a snarky comment to his post from Anonymous that made me think:

No worries. Chretien and Martin stacked the courts in Liberals favor [sic] with partisan appointments.

Harper would need to be in power roughly 13 years to even it out.

What happens if you don't like either prospect? I mean, I don't relish the thought of any governing party rewarding their stalwarts with any sort of appointment.

Is it realistic? Not really. When you get to a certain career level, you are almost certain to become a partisan at some level. I don't think it's possible for someone in the higher echelons of a corporation or professional organization to not have partisan links.

Right now, using a very detailed and highly confidential patented thought process, I figure that most of these upper echelons that are tapped into for these committees are probably split 50/50 in their partisan links - 50% Liberal and 50% Conservative, with a bare handful that are neither. Thus, if I see appointments to a committee, I would expect - in a fair and non-biased process - that about half of the appointees will be Liberal partisans and the other half would be Conservative partisans.

In the history of this country, a fair and non-biased process to appoint to committees has never happened. So, do I need to get all worked up if the Conservatives fill a committee with their partisans when the Liberals will do the same thing if elected the next government? Especially since, in a lot of cases, their end goal is the same?

In other words, is there truly a lesser evil in this respect? Can you, with all certainty, argue that there are better partisan appointments than others?

Take for example my series of posts on the Toronto Port Authority. The Liberal Party created the Authority to stack it with partisans and ignore the City of Toronto. When the Conservatives had an opportunity to change the direction of the Authority, they didn't - they just stacked it with their own partisans and continued the long standing practice of ignoring the City of Toronto. In the end? The Port Authority runs the same today as it ever did, just with a different set of partisans.

The only prevailing school of thought suggests that, as long as your filling an agency or a committee with your own partisans, that's a good thing.

Am I wrong?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"Right-Wing Nemesis"

Wow, it's come quick [Toronto Star, Ontario Liberals to run more women candidates]:

As for the Conservatives, [Deputy Premier George] Smitherman said they are haunted [by] the cuts made by former premier Mike Harris and the current policies of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"It's a scary reminder to Ontarians about the right-wing nemesis that lurks inside the Conservative party," he said Sunday.

John Tory will start answering for Stephen Harper, when Dalton McGuinty starts answering for Alphonso Gagliano.

It's too bad that the Ontario Liberal Party, unable to run on their own record "front and centre", have to pull out the 2004 federal Liberal Party of Canada election playbook: Conservatives are Scary™.

I have a better plan.

Pull out the 2006 federal Liberal Party of Canada election playbook.

PS: Don't forget - wait for the references to Richie Rich coming soon.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Kathleen Wynne Stands Up for Public Education

Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Minister of Education, has some advice for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. I paraphrase:

Kathleen Wynne ... said she wants the [Peel] board to develop a budget based on the needs of kids, not on those of the provincial funding formula.

Good for Kathleen Wynne.

I'm surprised she'd stand up to Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party. It takes strong leadership and a strong committment to go against your government to remain consistent with your personal convictions.

Wait, what? That was 7 years ago? That was when she fought the Ontario government's takeover of the Toronto District School Board?

But, she would hold the same views now, right [CBC, Peel school board refuses to balance books]:

Under the Ontario Education Act, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne is mandated to appoint a supervisor to take over financial control of a school board's books to balance its budget.

That would force Wynne to do the same thing she protested against as a Toronto trustee in 2002 when the Conservatives ... were in power.

Surely she has misgivings.

In an interview with CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Tuesday, Wynne emphasized her position as education minister.

"The law is very clear. If the board's budgets don't balance, then the province has to take action."

Through all of this confusion, I think the Dufferin-Peel board should agree with Kathleen Wynne's position on government-appointed supervisors and the Ontario government's education funding formula, don't you? Whatever that position might be.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ontario By-Elections : February 8

On February 8, Ontarians in Markham, Burlington, and York South-Weston will vote for new MPPs.

I've included your Ontario Progressive Conservative candidates and their contact information.

Alex Yuan, Markham [voter information]
4128 Highway #7 East
Markham, ON
L3R 1L6 [map]
Phone: 905-475-1962
Email: alex.yuan@ontariopc.on.ca

Joyce Savoline, Burlington [voter information]
3500 Fairview Street, Unit 3
Burlington, ON
L7N 2R4 [map]
Phone: 905-637-5565
Email: joycesavolinecampaign@bellnet.ca

Pina Martino, York South-Weston [voter information]
1285 Weston Road
Toronto, ON
M6M 4R2 [map]
Phone: 416-241-1615
Email: pina.martino.campaign@ontariopc.on.ca

General election information, can be found at Elections Ontario.

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Of Attack Ads and Smear Campaigns

My apologies for the lack of substantive posts lately. It's a case of, once again, real life interfering with blogging. The nerve.

Anyway, I feel compelled to comment on the latest round of Conservative Party attack ads as I've now seen them on TV, and more particularly on the commentary that's sprouted out in the blogosphere.

While reading the commentary, I was reminded of an old post over at Stageleft - Balbulican's Rhetric Conversion Table.

When we use attack ads and smear campaigns, we are stating facts and pointing out fallacies in our opponents' positions. It's politics. The electorate will ultimately decide if it's effective.

When they use attack ads and smear campaigns, it's completely unwarranted and unnecessary, and completely lowers the level of political discourse in this country. It's shameful. The electorate will ultimately decide if it's effective.

So, do I like the attack ads?

Well, they're kind of like an ad for Sensodyne: I already know what the product is trying to pitch, it has strong market presence, the message may at some time in the future resonate with me, but I have no need for it right now. I might need it later on, and I'll keep it in mine when I need to make a decision. But, I'm not in anyway spurned to action right now.

In other words, a solid meh.

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