Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Too Little, Too Late

Here's the little:
"Our government is committed to the federalism of openness, an approach to federal-provincial relations that relies on respect for jurisdiction and productive collaboration to get things done for Canadians," [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper said in a statement.
Here's the too late:

The criticism [of Ontario's budget] was widely believed to have been approved by Mr. Harper's office. But the move appeared to backfire on his government, with many observers criticizing it for meddling in the province's affairs. "It wasn't going well for them," a provincial government source said.
[Globe & Mail, Ottawa, Ontario find 'common ground,' cool war of words]

Couple this with the Ontario PC Party's invisibility when it comes to distancing itself from these attacks, and you seemingly have an orchestrated event to launch an all out Ontario Conservative attack on a sitting Ontario premier.

The worst part of this is that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives did actually criticize the Ontario budget and the policies of the Ontario Liberals:

Tory referred to several financial and economic indicators that demonstrate the harmful effect that McGuinty government policies are having on the Ontario
economy, including:

  • Four years ago, Ontario’s per capita fiscal capacity was $400 above the cut off for equalization payments. Today, that number has fallen to $84.
  • The Canadian unemployment rate is the lowest in 33 years. Yet, the Ontario unemployment rate was above the national average in 2007.
  • Ontario’s growth in 2007 was the slowest in the country.
  • In 2007, Ontario reported a net loss of over 36,000 people to other provinces, with a record loss of 14,720 people in the third quarter alone.
  • Ontario has the slowest growth in private sector job creation in Canada.
  • After the budget, of all of the provinces, Ontario has the highest tax rate on new business investment.

It was fruitless, of course, as it was all upstaged by Tweedledum and Tweedledummer.

Well played, everyone.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who is Linda Hasenfratz?

Blue Blogging Soapbox points us to a speech by Linamar CEO, Linda Hasenfratz, who pre-emptively came out in favour of Jim Flaherty's assault on Ontario back in December.

I'll just draw your attention to the part BBS highlights:

The federal government has stepped up with proposed tax rate cuts to take us to 15% by 2012, we need the provincial government to cut as well, and we need them to do it today. Evidence abounds internationally that governments collect far more tax revenue after dropping corporate taxes as companies reinvest in new equipment and R&D that drive accelerated sales and earnings growth and therefore tax payments.
Note the urgency. So, naturally, I go looking to find out a bit more about Linda Hasenfratz.

Linda Hasenfratz was born in Guelph, Ontario, in 1966. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Western Ontario and completed an Executive M.B.A. from the Ivey School of Business at the same university in 1997. She is Chief Executive Officer of Linamar Corporation.
Where did I get that biography from?

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister announces Canadian membership of North American Competitiveness Council:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the Canadian membership of the North American Competitiveness Council, which was launched at the meeting of North American leaders in Cancun, Mexico, in March 2006.

The Canadian members of the Competitiveness Council are Dominic D’Alessandro (Manulife Financial); Paul Desmarais, Jr. (Power Corporation of Canada); David Ganong (Ganong Bros. Limited); Richard George (Suncor Energy Inc.); Hunter Harrison (CN); Linda Hasenfratz (Linamar Corporation); Michael Sabia (Bell Canada Enterprises); Jim Shepherd (Canfor Corporation); Annette Verschuren (The Home Depot); and Rick Waugh (Scotiabank).

...

The Council will meet annually with security and prosperity ministers and will engage with senior government officials on an ongoing basis. The Competitiveness Council is an initiative of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.

Emphasis mine.

Take it for what you will. I just report what I Googled.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Well, Duh

Ask Wizards, 03/25/2008
Q: May a ninja use a gnome battle cloak without penalty, or will they still lose their AC bonuses?
I can't imagine a world without gnome battle cloak-wearing ninjas. That would be a very sad world indeed.

Progressive Conservatives Stand Up for Ontario

Unfortunately for me, it's the Newfoundland & Labrador Progressive Conservatives.

Bloomberg, Newfoundland Leader `Flabbergasted' by Canada Tax Row
"I'm flabbergasted, for want of a better term, and astonished that a Canadian federal finance minister would make a statement that his home province is the last place that people should be doing business in Canada," [Progressive Conservative Premier Danny ] Williams said. "That's pretty close to what he said -- that's a very irresponsible statement."

...

"If there was ever a time that Canada should step up and support Ontario -- and Ontario has been the heart of Canada for a long time from an economic perspective -- it's now. But they seem to be doing just the opposite," Williams said.
[H/T, Warren Kinsella]

Does the Newfoundland & Labrador Progressive Conservative Party accept out of province memberships?

Bonus Unquote

"Stephen Harper is such a clever tactician that his little games can be so fascinating we overlook their significance. The significance of this one is, well, significant: he's badmouthing his own country's industrial heartland and running roughshod over the prerogatives of a legitimately-elected government for the sake of cheap political points and to prop up his serial loser of a finance minister. It's not funny."

Paul Wells

[H/T, comment at Lord Kitchener's Own]

53 Empty Seats

© Copyright 2007 Roy Tennant, FreeLargePhotos.com It truly does not matter what Stephen Harper's end game is with respect to Ontario - whether it's to further the political aspirations of one of his ministers, to heap the blame on a failing Canadian economy on Ontario, or to score partisan points with the rest of Canada at Ontario's expense.

There are 53 Liberal MP's from Ontario in Ottawa who will not do a single thing to stop him.

[Picture, © Copyright 2007 Roy Tennant, FreeLargePhotos.com]

Unquote

"While it is understandable that our two governments may differ from time to time on matters of economic policy, it is completely unacceptable for Canada's Minister of Finance to publicly and deliberately attack the choices made by Ontarians. Together, Ontarians are working hard to create new jobs and secure new business investment. The competition is global and fierce. Minister Flaherty's extraordinary attack on Ontario is a betrayal of the federal government's responsibility to champion the Canadian economy, both at home and abroad."

Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario

[Link mine]

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jim Flaherty : Small Man of Confederation

I agree 100% with Dan's hunch that Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is using his position as federal finance minister to launch a campaign to take over the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

And this latest escapade further cements that hunch, in my opinion.

I can't help but feel that he wants Ontario's economy to falter, in order to launch a bid to "rescue" Ontario from Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The old manufacturing a crisis trick.

Prove me wrong, Jim - prove me wrong.

The federal finance minister (especially, one that is supposedly conservative) should not be commenting on the hypothetical contents of a provincial budget unless s/he is going to do so for every province and territory - and in doing so, only in the context of the federal economy.

Further, taking partisan shots at the Premier of this province is just unseemly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Too Much Drowzy

I mentioned previously that this cold season is the worst ever - this is my third in two months (my fifth all winter) or it's just one big cold and I merely went into remission for small periods in between.

I have a question to the drug companies that make cold remedies. Actually, it's the same question I have to those that make allergy remedies, too. I guess I'll kill two birds.

Why do the drugs you make that relieve my symptoms only do so when they also knock me out? For my one week spat of allergies in May and in September, only Benadryl works, but then I'm in a coma for about 5 hours. For my cold, only Tylenol Cold nighttime does anything - but then, I'm also knocked unconscious. For comparison purposes, Tylenol Cold daytime doesn't cut it - it keeps me more alert, but I still feel the cold heavy.

The non-drowsy allergy remedies do not work either. Pharmacists tell me you have to wait two weeks for them to kick in, but I want relief now. In two weeks, my allergy shots have kicked in.

So, the big question is, what's the point of relieving my symptoms if I have to be unconscious to enjoy it? I don't take NyQuil, but I've heard rave reviews. How do you know it works so great if you're passed out in your corn flakes?

I know chemically, it's likely the amount of antihistamine that knocks you out. The difference between the day and night time versions of Tylenol Cold is the amount of antihistamine - but, if it's the antihistamine that relieves the symptoms, then modern science should figure out a non-drowsy antihistamine.

Please start now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bob Rae Would be a Bad Choice*

A vote for Bob Rae in Toronto Centre is a vote to send another empty chair to the House of Commons.

Liberal strategy to date has been about abstentions, inconsequential motions and marginalizing their progressive wing.

Add to this, Bob Rae, Liberal foreign affairs critic, is unaware that Canadian troops are serving in Iraq.

Add to this, Bob Rae, needs to plant questions from high profile supporters in the audience at a town hall debate. For a guy that supposedly has a lock on the riding, he sure smells desperate.

* I borrowed the title of this post from Jason Cherniak's post, Bob Rae would be a bad choice.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Leader of Festivus Party responds to Launch of NOTA Party

Attention Political Editors:

Leader of Festivus Party responds to Launch of NOTA Party by former Minister of Silly Shoes, Zorpheous

TORONTO, March 12 - The Festivus Party of Canada (A Party for the Rest of Us) remains the only viable Canadian option for the none of the above voting block despite the call for the creation of a new party with a much more representative name. This party is being created by the former Minister of Silly Shoes, Zorpheous.

The Festivus Party is polling second in Central Nova (despite the second place vote actually marked for "None of These").

This is also despite the fact that Zorpheous has a larger blog following and would likely attract a larger political following.

Ahem.

The Leader of the Festivus Party, when approached for comment by Festivus Party media relations on this development said, "What? Who the hell are you people? That joke died out a long time ago."

Deputy Leader, I P Freely, explained that the Leader clearly articulates the thoughts of millions of Canadians when they go to the voting booth on a given election day and sees their supposed list of representative options.
Further, the "joke", being the current state of Parliament.

That's why the Festivus Party remains the best option.

He could not explain why the Leader than called the cops and threatened to have the media team removed from his property - that's neither here nor there.

Discussions of merger talks are clearly immature at this point - no one has offered President's Choice Buffalo Wings & Blue Cheese chips yet. They are yum delicious.

For further information: I P Freely, Deputy Leader - Festivus Party of Canada, (416) 555-1212.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Liberal Party has Jumped the Shark

Today and yesterday, in the progressive blogosphere, the Liberal party was being rightly taken to task for their support for Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act.

In the midst of this meltdown and to change their lagging fortunes, the Liberal party will enter a motion condemning the other Opposition parties for bringing down the Paul Martin Liberal-minority government [Toronto Star, Liberals plan motion slamming . . . NDP and Bloc]:
Liberals will attempt to turn the tables Thursday on rival parties who've ridiculed them for being afraid of toppling the minority Conservative government.

They'll introduce a motion condemning the NDP and Bloc Quebecois for defeating the previous Grit government in November 2005, thereby enabling Stephen Harper's Tories to win power.

The motion slams the Harper government for setting back women's equality rights by cancelling such Liberal measures as the Court Challenges Program and a national child care program.
Is this what a vote for the Liberal party means? Is this the kind of parliamentary work they were sent to do in Opposition? What's next? A motion condemning Canadians who didn't vote Liberal in 2006?

Bill Casey should be offended that he wasn't named in the motion since he technically voted to bring down the government while he sat as a Conservative.

The funny thing is, if this were a confidence motion, the Liberals would vote against it.

Updated: Added more posts to the "taking to task" comment at the top.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

... Or, Maybe It Is

Jane Taber tells us that the proposed changes to the income tax act to deny the CanCon tax credit was originally introduced by the Liberals [Globe & Mail, Liberals moved first to limit film tax relief]:
The Liberals acknowledged yesterday that they tried when they were in office to eliminate tax credits for offensive movies, but only to prevent a film about schoolgirl killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.

...

Yesterday, former Liberal heritage minister Sheila Copps recalled that the Chr├ętien government drafted guidelines in 2003 that would prevent accreditation of a film about the couple who kidnapped, tortured and killed two Ontario schoolgirls.
That smells like censorship. The previous government wanted to deny the credit due to the content of the production. You could argue that the content of a production was extremely tasteless - anything involving Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka would be impossible for me to stomach - but, where do you draw the line?

Which ones do you say gain the benefit, and which ones do not? Who gets to decide?

Again, if you think abuse is likely - eliminate the tax credit for all productions. Foreign-produced ones, too.

Further:
Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate, lashed back at Liberal Senator Francis Fox, who was questioning the government's intent regarding the amendment: "If Liberal senators are offended by the fact that we should not be protecting minority groups and child pornographers - that is, if they think we should be giving them free rein - they have every right to address that in the committee and move an amendment. We will then see what happens when it goes back to the House of Commons."
Senator LeBreton's comment about giving artists "free rein" certainly suggests she advocates for some level of censorship. As well, she comments that allowing this so-called free rein will lead to the exploitation of minority groups and children.

It certainly flies in the face of those supporters that claim this is not censorship - they argue these items could still be produced - just not on the taxpayers' dime.

At Least It's Not Censorship ...

Supporters of the government's Bill C-10 (denying "CanCon" tax credits to Canadian productions deemed to convey a message or imagery the government feels run contrary to Canadian values) can sleep better knowing that foreign companies can still produce the content the government wants to protect us from - all courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer [Globe & Mail, Hollywood productions can dodge proposed tax rule]:
Under the proposed changes to federal tax legislation, Canadian films that receive public funding may be scrutinized by the government for their moral suitability. Yet Hollywood films shot in Canada that have applied for tax credits will get a free pass.

...

The proposed amendment does not apply to the Canadian film or video production services tax credit in Section 125.5 of the Income Tax Act (the "Services Credit," through which Hollywood studios and producers from other countries can apply for labour tax breaks).
So, those horrible and unspeakable messages that the government wants to protect us from could still be produced (and still be produced on the taxpayers' dime), but there would be no advantage for that horrible and unspeakable message to be produced by Canadians.

Like most things in Ottawa for the past several years ...
"The proposed changes were poorly thought out and not well conceived."
I suppose it's just as well, as Canadian media companies are not really interested in Canadian-produced content anyway [Globe & Mail, Domestic TV orbits planet Hollywood]:
Canada's biggest commercial television networks spent $107-million more on foreign programming last year than they did to make domestic shows, the widest gap between Hollywood productions and locally made content the industry has ever seen.

For the first time since the federal broadcast regulator began keeping data, spending on Canadian TV shows fell, which the country's private networks will likely use at hearings next month as evidence of a sector in financial duress.

...

[T]he key reason U.S. shows perform better in the Canadian ratings is because they enjoy vastly bigger production budgets, noting that a one-hour Canadian drama will have a budget of less than $400,000, while a top U.S. show may cost more than $4-million (U.S.) an episode.

“How can you possibly compete with that, unless you start producing better product with more money,” he added.
But, at least it's not censorship ...

Gary Gygax : July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, has passed away. If you are, or ever were, a geek, you likely played D&D at some point in your life.

BBC, Dungeons and Dragons creator dies:

Gary Gygax, co-creator of the first role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, has died at the age of 69.
Gygax, who developed the game in 1974 with Dave Arneson, had been suffering from health problems for several years.

Famous for its mythical creatures and odd-shaped dice, Dungeons and Dragons was an instant success that spawned a slew of video games, books and films.

Gygax was also a author who wrote numerous fantasy books, including the Greyhawk series of adventure novels.

He died on Tuesday at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, leaving a wife and six children.
Two obituary posts in a row. Not good.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Residency Requirement for Health Care

Another Canadian is denied public health care due to his residency.

CBC, Sask. patient denied treatment, Alberta MD says
An Alberta doctor says her now-deceased patient was denied treatment last month because he was from Saskatchewan.

However, other health officials say they weren't aware of the seriousness of the man's condition.

Medicine Hat general practitioner Alison Cameron said she tried to transfer a man, who was from the small town of Leader, Sask., to Calgary when he suffered a heart attack after breaking his hip.

However, the transfer didn't take place and the man died.

...

"What they told me was there was that there were people in Alberta waiting for those beds, so they weren't willing to give them to Saskatchewan," she said.
Medicine Hat, Alberta, is 160 km away from Leader, Saskatchewan. The nearest large centre in Saskatchewan - Saskatoon - is 284 km away. Moose Jaw is 324 km.

In the previous case, an Ontario musician was denied Ontario health care coverage because he did not pass the Ontario requirement for residency length.

Residency should not be a prerequisite to receiving health care.

How do we change it?

Conservatives and the Death Penalty

I'm confused.

Is the Conservative government for seeking clemency in cases involving the death penalty, or not?

I was going to ask the question if the Conservative government was going to seek clemency in the case of Mohamed Kohail, who was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia [CTV, Montrealer sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia]:
Friends of a Canadian jailed in Saudi Arabia on murder charges lashed out at Saudi justice and demanded help from the Canadian government Monday upon learning that he was convicted and sentenced to a public beheading.
I was going to ask, but then my Google search turned up this tidbit [Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa wins no-execution guarantee for American murder suspect]:
Despite its controversial refusal to seek clemency for a Canadian murderer on death row in Montana, the Conservative government has won a no-execution guarantee from U.S. authorities for an alleged American killer facing deportation from Quebec to South Carolina, Canwest News Service has learned.
Contrast this with the government's public position of no longer seeking clemency for Canadians being sentenced to death.

Supporters will argue, that the Conservative government can still seek clemency because its position is that it will simply not automatically seek clemency.

What, then, is the criteria the Conservatives are using to decide when to seek clemency? I know - polls.

On November 5, the Toronto Star reported that the Conservatives found little support for the death penalty, with the strongest support in Alberta and the weakest in Newfoundland & Labrador.

Ronald Allen Smith was born in Alberta and Roger Eugene Shephard fled to Quebec. I could connect the dots, but I won't.

Either way, the Conservative government needs to explain to Canadians - supporters and non-supporters alike - what their consistent "principled" Conservative viewpoint of the death penalty is.

Updated: Thanks to Scott Tribe in the comments for explaining it further.

It seems that the government must seek assurances that the death penalty will not be used on persons being extradited to a country where the death penalty is a possibility.

If, however, you are already there, there is no requirement for the government to seek similar assurances.

Updated x 2: Ronald Smith is fighting the government's new policy [CBC, Canada's reversal of death row policy called unconstitutional]:
Lawyers for an Albertan on death row in Montana are asking the Federal Court to force the Canadian government to continue seeking clemency for him.

An application to the court says the federal government acted unconstitutionally when it reversed a long-standing tradition of lobbying foreign governments to show mercy on Canadian citizens facing death sentences.

Changing Your Political Brand

In the CBC article detailing the win by Alberta's Progressive Conservatives that I reference in one of my previous posts, the piece quotes political scientist Duane Bratt:
I think the Liberal brand is so toxic in this province that the only way they can survive is a name change.
It's not the first time this has come up.

So, what's in a name? Is sharing the name with the federal Liberal Party really that toxic for Alberta Liberals?

The Yukon Party was formerly known as the Yukon Progressive Conservative Party. They chose to change their name due to the decline in popularity of the federal Progressive Conservative Party. The Yukon Party formed a minority government in 1992, then sat in opposition until 2002 - they've governed ever since.

The Saskatchewan Party, while not formerly a rebranding of the Saskatchewan Progressive Conservative Party (which still wants to exist), was formed in 1997 and is considered to be dominated by former Progressive Conservatives who are attempting to escape association with the previous PC government under Grant Devine. The Saskatchewan Party sat in opposition until 2007, until November when they formed a majority government.

With the exception of British Columbia, none of the provincial big-c conservative parties have rebranded themselves as the Conservative Party within their respective provinces - choosing to remain the Progressive Conservative Party - BC changed to the Conservative Party in 1991. The Progressive Conservative "brand" is the government in Alberta (since 1971), Nova Scotia (since 1999), and Newfoundland & Labrador (since 2003).

Contrast this with the federal party - post-merger, the party was renamed the Conservative Party in 2003. The party remained in opposition until 2006.

So, does changing a party's name influence electoral results?

It seems to be the case - anecdotally. A Liberal is a Liberal and a Conservative is a Conservative - it doesn't matter if it's federal or provincial. Provincial Liberals were as much to blame for AdScam, as provincial Conservatives were harbouring a secret right-wing agenda. For the NDP, it's a little more concrete.

However, it doesn't seem to play out that way in an actual election.

The Yukon and Saskatchewan Parties sat in opposition for 10 years before forming government. And, remaining Progressive Conservative did not seem to impact provincial party success (or failure) in the provinces that have them.

If the Alberta Liberals changed their name, it will not likely change their electoral fortune. Ultimately, voters change governments when they get tired of the old one or if they like the message of an opposition party.

Alberta Liberals can change their name, but they'll either have to hope that Albertans tire of the Progressive Conservatives (electoral success since 1971 - ahem), or they'll have to change their message.

A rose by any other name, and all that.

Playing devil's advocate for the moment, only Conservative parties have attempted to change their name to try to garner electoral success - a Liberal party has not. So, it may not be entirely possible to separate the failure of the name change from a failure for a Conservative message.

As an aside, a Google search for "liberal party alberta" comes up with the Liberal Party of Canada (Alberta) website first with a big old picture of St├ęphane Dion on it, and the Alberta Liberal Party, second.

Contrast that with a search for "conservative party ontario", the first link is the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

Updated: Cleaning up some of the awkwardness.

Adding Insult to Injury

The CBC provides an interactive results map for the Alberta election. Apparently, there are 10 ridings in there that aren't blue.



Proof that Bland Works

It's not entirely surprising that the Progressive Conservatives won, but how well they did ... wow [CBC, Albertans re-elect historic 11th straight Tory government]:

The Tories, who began their political dynasty in 1971, captured 72 of 83 seats, gaining 11 seats and increasing their share of the popular vote by about six per cent from the last vote in 2004.

...

The extent of the Conservative victory stunned the Alberta Liberals, led by Kevin Taft, who lost seven of their 16 legislative seats, led by a collapse in their traditional base of support in Edmonton.

...

The NDP also suffered a major blow Monday night, losing two of their four seats, including one in Edmonton held by former leader Ray Martin.

The Alberta Greens increased their popular vote by two per cent over their 2004 election results, but failed again to elect their first-ever MLA in the province, as well as in Canada.

The Wildrose Alliance will not be represented in the legislature as leader Paul Hinman lost a tight race to retain the party's single seat in southern Alberta.
I would also like to point out that the Alberta Progressive Conservatives took 88% of the legislature with 53% of the popular vote [CBC, Alberta Votes 2008].

Monday, March 03, 2008

Jeff Healey : March 25, 1966 - March 2, 2008

JeffHealey.comHe will be missed.

The Canadian Press, Despite long battle with cancer, Jeff Healey's death still shocking, bandmate
Acclaimed jazz and rock guitarist Jeff Healey was remembered Sunday as a musician of rare ability who had a wicked sense of humour and a generous nature as fans and bandmates mourned his death at age 41, following a battle with cancer.

...

Healey rose to stardom as the leader of the Jeff Healey Band, a rock-oriented trio that garnered a Juno award, international acclaim and platinum record sales with the 1988 album "See the Light."

But Bray and Scriven said Healey's true love was jazz, the genre that dominated his last three albums with the Jazz Wizards.

Healey's guitar prowess was characterized by a unique playing-style that saw him lay the instrument across his lap.

It led him to share stages with such rock luminaries as George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King, but Bray said jazz allowed him to exercise his other instrumental talents such as trumpet and drums.

Healey's love of jazz also led him to host radio shows on the CBC and a local Toronto station where he spun long-forgotten numbers from his personal collection of over 30,000 vinyl records.
Cross posted.

Jeff Healey : March 25, 1966 - March 2, 2008

JeffHealey.comHe will be missed.

The Canadian Press, Despite long battle with cancer, Jeff Healey's death still shocking, bandmate

Acclaimed jazz and rock guitarist Jeff Healey was remembered Sunday as a musician of rare ability who had a wicked sense of humour and a generous nature as fans and bandmates mourned his death at age 41, following a battle with cancer.

...

Healey rose to stardom as the leader of the Jeff Healey Band, a rock-oriented trio that garnered a Juno award, international acclaim and platinum record sales with the 1988 album "See the Light."

But Bray and Scriven said Healey's true love was jazz, the genre that dominated his last three albums with the Jazz Wizards.

Healey's guitar prowess was characterized by a unique playing-style that saw him lay the instrument across his lap.

It led him to share stages with such rock luminaries as George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King, but Bray said jazz allowed him to exercise his other instrumental talents such as trumpet and drums.

Healey's love of jazz also led him to host radio shows on the CBC and a local Toronto station where he spun long-forgotten numbers from his personal collection of over 30,000 vinyl records.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Asparagus != Asparagrass

Asparagus is a plant, and asparagrass is a made up word.

This has been another public service announcement.

The Morality Police : Film and Tax Credits

I think the proposed changes to how federal tax credits are paid out to film and television productions - smelling entirely of socially conservative-based censorship - displays clearly how the Conservative party is not a fiscally conservative political option in Canada [Toronto Star, Tax credit changes are ominous for local film industry]:
An impending change to federal government guidelines on tax credits for movies and TV shows is a threat to artistic freedom and financial stability, critics say.

A tax bill amendment – now before the Senate and poised to become law – revises criteria to exclude tax breaks for shows that bureaucrats regard as offensive or not in the public interest.

Tax credits – approved by the heritage and justice departments after a film is completed – are a vital part of the production process. They're part of the budget plan producers take to lending institutions for up-front financing before filming begins.
If this so-called Conservative government felt that tax money was being used to improperly fund movie and television projects that do not reflect "real Canadian values", it would eliminate the tax credit in its entirety - that would be the fiscally conservative thing to do. That would leave the market to entirely decide which productions got made. It would likely kill all Canadian-based productions, but it would be ostensibly "fairer".

Instead, it is going to strengthen the bureaucratic layer that approves and reviews the tax credit eligibility - creating a class of "activist bureaucrats" - which is an entirely socially conservative thing to do.

Further, this change will not entrench morality within the law as social conservatives want. It will position it within a temporary bureaucracy - changed when the government changes. Especially since final word resides with the Heritage Minister.

And, the government will change.

Updated: Fixed some grammar.