Friday, April 27, 2007

Slush Funds Club

The first rule of Slush Funds Club is, you don't talk about alleged slush funds [CBC, Liberals quash request for 'Colle-gate' probe]:

Ontario's Liberals have defeated an attempt by the opposition parties to have the province's auditor general probe grants handed out to multicultural groups.

At a public accounts committee meeting Thursday, the Liberals outvoted the New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives, who had joined forces to try to force an investigation by Auditor General Jim McCarter.

The request asked for him to probe the $20 million in grants doled out to 31 community groups last year.

The second rule of Slush Funds Club is, you don't talk about alleged slush funds until after an election [Toronto Star, Liberals halt grants probe]:

In what critics called an effort to defuse the "slush fund" scandal, the Liberals used their majority in the Legislature's public accounts committee to order 30 groups that received $20 million in funding to report on the status of that money within six months.

That timing gives groups until two weeks after the Oct. 10 provincial election and is "an insult to the intelligence of anyone paying attention to this issue," said Progressive Conservative MPP Bob Runciman (Leeds-Grenville).

...

Liberal MPP Monique Smith (Nipissing) said at the public accounts committee that the auditor general is free to examine the grants if he so desires, but critics noted the auditor general's next annual report is not due until at least six months after the fall election.

Yay, for your Ontario Liberals!

Being Buzz Hargrove

So, does this mean that Buzz Hargrove will advocate the election of Conservative MPs during the next federal election [Toronto Star, Green tab: $300 a car?]?
"We can live with what they've announced today," said Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, who has been a strong critic of previous federal moves to promote efficiency.

[H/T, Torontoist]; hyperlink mine.

All the other parties are planning on shoving the old proverbial banana in the tailpipe, so I don't see how Mr. Hargrove can do anything but.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Strange Parallels

Using Ontario Liberal Party supporter logic, the federal NDP are attacking a federal Conservative effort to fund community groups.

NDP, Heritage boondoggle in the making says Angus:
New Democrats are asking the Heritage Minister to explain what appears to be a backdoor process to give Conservative MPs first dibs on a proposed summer arts program. Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) has obtained a memorandum from the minister’s office that is inviting Conservative MPs to come forward with ideas on how to spend a $30 million program slated for summer festivals. No criteria, applications or timelines have been posted by the Heritage Department with regards to this multi-million dollar fund.

...

“This government talks about accountability. But the first principle of accountability is fair and equal access to government funds. This minister must explain herself immediately. She must assure arts and culture festivals and local museums across Canada that she intends to hand out this money without the vetting or suggestions from Conservative MPs.”

I fully agree, the first principle of accountability is fair and equal access to government funds, as well as a fully accountable application process. The Ontario Liberal Party, along with the federal Conservative Party, should be encouraged to follow that standard.

Maybe I'm just new.

Updated: Changed hyperlink.

Angus Reid : Festivus Party Second Favourite in Central Nova

According to Angus Reid, Stephane Dion and Elizabeth May should have cut a deal with the Festivus Party in Central Nova, according to Canadians [Angus Reid, Few Canadians Welcome Dion/May Deal]:

Few Canadians are satisfied with a recent agreement between St├ęphane Dion and Elizabeth May, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies. 45 per cent of respondents disapprove of the Liberal leader and the Green leader’s pact to not run candidates in each other’s ridings in the next federal election.

...

If you were a voter residing in Nova Scotia’s Central Nova riding, which of these candidates would you support in the next federal election?

Peter MacKay (Con.) - 35%
Elizabeth May (Grn.) - 22%
Louise Loriface (NDP) - 16%
None of these - 27%

We here at the Festivus Party will gladly lend our 27% to any party leader that can make a convincing case that they best represent the interests of Canadians. We also accept Raptor post-season tickets.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why Not an Audit?

Ontario politics can be interesting at times.

I'd like to address the argument that the Opposition is "busy attacking the Liberal government for giving money to charities and community groups." This is untrue.

What is happening instead is the Opposition is busy holding the Liberal government to account for acknowledging that unadvertised grants were given without a formal application process and acknowledging that there isn't a clear audit about how the money was to be spent.

Premier Dalton McGuinty believes that this doesn't mean there isn't transparency - I'd like to know what his definition of transparency is.

The Opposition's concerns are fair and are ones a simple audit should be able to address.

Friday, April 20, 2007

mesh 2007 Meetup in Toronto - Political Bloggers

At this point, I have every intention of attending the mesh 2007 Meetup:

Whether you're a political blogger, party stalwart, consultant or media observer, or like us just plain fascinated by the impact that the Web is having on the way we discuss, organize and create political change, come on out and join us and folks from the Toronto Web 2.0 community on May 9 for snacks and libations at The Charlotte Room. Worst case, you can settle your political differences the way we were meant to - over libations and pool tables.

[H/T, BCer in Toronto]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

SES : Quebec's Second Choice After BQ

An SES poll indicates the NDP are poised to gain support in Quebec if the BQ disappears (or, I suppose, if Quebeckers can be convinced the BQ is irrelevant):
In a nutshell, the absence of the BQ would likely move the Conservatives into majority territory. They would lead in Quebec with the support of 41% of voters followed by the NDP and the Liberals who would be statistically tied (23% and 21% respectively). BQ committed voters would move to the Conservatives (who pick up 13 points), the NDP (who pick up 10 points), the Green Party (who pick up 8 points) and the Liberals (who pick up 3 points). Factoring the margin of accuracy for the sub sample the discernable movement is to the Tories and the NDP and to a lesser extent to the Greens.

As one commenter pointed out at the SES site, it's almost as though the Liberals need the BQ to maintain relevance in the province. This poll certainly suggests that the Liberal Party has little chance to sway Bloc voters to come under their "big tent".

Update: I just had a thought. I wonder if St├ęphane Dion would be open to not running a Liberal candidate in a riding with a lot of soft BQ support? Those BQ voters who normally vote BQ to avoid a Liberal win may not feel compelled to park their vote with the Bloc.

That would surely convince me that he's putting principle ahead of partisanship.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Birth of the Festivus Party

Are you:

  • A former federal Progressive Conservative who feels the federal Conservative Party is too right-wing for you?
  • A former federal Reformer who feels the federal Conservative Party is too left-wing for you?
  • A Green or a Liberal upset by the deal between Elizabeth May and Stephane Dion?
  • A Liberal just in general upset with Stephane Dion?
  • Former political insider who never gets invited to the cool political party parties any more? Maybe you still smart from all those knife wounds in your back?
  • Regretting that floor crossing?
  • Suffering from a whole bunch of skeletons in your closet?
  • An independent looking to cash in on the tax receipt goodness of party donations?

In short, are you something of a political persona non grata?

I hereby propose the creation of the Festivus Party - it's a political party for the rest of us.

It will be a party with no cohesive national platform or policy, not unlike today's choices for federal parties, but we will be honest and upfront about it.

You can be a fanatic or a moderate, you can be a hothead or a passive wallflower. Everybody in their own riding will have their own hidden or open agenda - your choice. While we won't have policy conventions, we'll still have conventions because conventions equal good times.

We also won't have a leadership convention - since it's my party, I'm the leader for life. Unless that's illegal, in which case I'll be leader emiritus [emeritus?] - except I want to be paid.

We will run multiple candidates in the same ridings just to make sure somebody will get offered a Senate seat or federal commission appointment to convince us to stop splitting the whackjob vote.

All votes in the House are free. Which, will likely be moot since there's really no likelihood of us winning any seats.

Memberships will cost the relatively standard $10 / year, but you can get a month-by-month membership for $2. This way, if your original political party is welcoming you back, you can always leave us in the lurch. Floor crossing isn't frowned upon, it is encouraged. Go, come back, tell us what kind of snacks they serve in their caucus meetings.

Before you ask, this is way different than the Rhinocerous Party. They were funny.

:-)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Why I Love Science, a Followup.

Owen, commenting in a previous post on why I love science, draws our attention to two other substances.

Cummingtonite
Cummingtonite is commonly found in metamorphosed magnesium-rich rocks and occurs in amphibolites. Usually it coexists with hornblende or actinolite hornblende, magnesium clinochlore chlorite, talc, serpentine-antigorite minerals or metamorphic pyroxene. Magnesium-rich cummingtonite can also coexist with anthophyllite.
Uranate
Uranate is the chemical term for oxide anions of the element uranium.
So, I found via the cummingtonite wiki page, a web page dedicated to molecules with silly or unusual names, called, funnily enough, Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names.
Believe it or not, some chemists do have a sense of humour, and this page is a testament to that. Here we'll show you some real molecules that have unusual, ridiculous or downright silly names.
It lists these two plus arsole, plus some of my new favourites:
  • Constipatic Acid
  • Fukiic Acid
  • Fukugetin
  • Crapinon
  • Erotic Acid
  • Fucitol

Friday, April 13, 2007

Electoral Dealings for Make Benefit the Green and Liberal Parties

So, of course the big news roaming around the internets is the fact that the Green Party and the Liberal Party have entered into an agreement of sorts not to oppose the other party's leader in the next federal election.

My first reaction went something like this:

"The Conservatives govern like Liberals. The Liberals govern like, well, Liberals. The Greens are now endorsing the Liberals. Who do I vote for now?"

In addition, I remembered reading this comment last week by Green leader, Elizabeth May, on her blog:
4. That said, Peter has shown some really serious errors in judgment. He should not have broken his word to David Orchard (the pact that sealed his victory, going down in history as the last-ever leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada) and turning it over to Alliance and Stephen Harper. The Progressive Conservative Party was cannibalized by the Alliance Party. The loss of the adjective “progressive” was more than grammatical. The heart was torn out of Canadian politics. The loss of the traditional, principled Progressive Conservative counter-weight to the ethically flexible Liberals has cost this country dearly.

Emphasis mine.

Clearly she's targeting the Red Tory vote, who traditionally voted PC, but now feels uncomfortable marching over to the Liberal Party.

That's my demographic in a nutshell, so I was willing to give the Greens a shot.

Maybe I need more time to digest this a bit.

If the Green Party had said, instead, they were only going to target the ridings they had the best shot of winning - I would have swallowed it a little bit better, perhaps.

See, one of the things missed in the dual press releases is that, for some of us, the Liberal Party is still simply not a viable voting option, so I can't get all excited about "non-aggression pacts" between the leaders, or potentially between other candidates.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

While I'm Burying the Hatchet ...

In light of this, I've also decided I'm not mad at Garth Turner or Scott Brison any more.

On Belinda Stronach Leaving

I would like to make a brief statement on the news that Belinda Stronach will be leaving federal politics [CNW Telbec, Belinda Stronach takes on new challenges]:

The Honourable Belinda Stronach, Member of Parliament for Newmarket and Aurora, today announced that she would assume the position of Executive Vice-Chair of Magna International Inc. effective immediately, and simultaneously, she will not stand for re-election as a Member of Parliament in the next federal election.

Way back when, I supported the merging of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative parties to create the new Conservative Party. I also supported Belinda Stronach to be the new leader.

I was upset when Ms. Stronach crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party, that she "did not stay, did not roll up [her] sleeves if [she] didn't like something ... Don't run from it. Help shape the direction of the new party." I stayed to shape the new party.

I realize now, sometimes, that shaping the direction of a party can be difficult. Pointless, really.

While I still question the floor crossing, I don't think I harbour any more negative thoughts toward Belinda.

All I can really say is that I wish her well in her future endeavours.

I'm sure it's been keeping her up at night, too. :-)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Why I Love Science : The Arsole

Futility Closet points out why I truly love science. I present the "arsole":
Arsole is a chemical compound of the formula C4H5As. The structure is like pyrrole except that an arsenic atom is substituted for the nitrogen atom and that arsole is only mildly aromatic. Arsole itself does exist but is rarely found in its pure form. Several substituted analogs called arsoles also exist.

When arsole is fused to a benzene ring, this molecule is called benzarsole.

Arsole may be referred to in some texts as 'Arsenole' - not the correct IUPAC name, but avoids confusion with a similar sounding slang term for the anus.
That's right. "Arsole" - say that without laughing. It's also fun to say "benzarsole" and "arsenole".

I dare argue that several scientists have become scientists because of the arsole.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dalton, Thy Name is Smear

Leader of the So What Revolution and Ontario's New Government, Dalton McGuinty has gone on the offensive against the opposition parties, claiming they are smearing his good government's name in connection with the ongoing Ontario Lottery & Gaming investigations [CTV, McGuinty blasts critics over OLG scandal]:

Premier Dalton McGuinty is lashing out at his political foes over what he calls a smear attempt at the Liberal government over the lottery scandal.

McGuinty accused critics and opposition leaders of using innuendo to try and link his office to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming in the wake of a scathing ombudsman's report that found retailers bilked winners out of tens of millions of dollars.

Which Ontario Liberals are offended by this?

These ones [CTV, Ontario Liberals lose seat in fierce byelection]?
The provincial Liberals lost their seat in a west-end Toronto byelection Thursday as the NDP's Cheri DiNovo defeated Sylvia Watson.

...

DiNovo said Liberals were taking her sermons out of context in a desperate attempt to smear her.

How about these ones [CNW Group, What is John Tory Hiding?]?

It has now been 3 days since it was revealed that John Tory is negotiating secret deals with a radical right wing group in order to win a few votes, and he still won't tell Ontarians what he's up to.

If there's one guy that can smell the use of a good smear or innuendo, it's Dalton McGuinty, who's continued political success seems largely dependent upon it.

I guess it's time to refer back to the 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.