Maclean's and Scotiabank are partnering up to ask you to define the moment you felt proudest to be Canadian. You can give your submission here: http://moments.macleans.ca/submit-your-defining-moment/
Read my article in Policy Options here. Also, here's the longer essay here, in the Canadian Parliamentary Review. What do you think?...
Friday, April 27, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Short, catchy sound-bites are a trademark of effective politics in today's society. In the last election Michael Igantieff incessantly complained of the Conservative agenda of "jets, jails, and corporate tax cuts." Now new NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has a slogan of his own, repeated for media and Question Period observers alike.
Apparently the Conservatives are creating "the largest ecological, economic and social debt in our history."
But what does this rhetoric really mean?
Ecology: the study of the relation and interaction between organisms.
Economy: the economic systems of a country or area which consist of labour, capital, and land resources; and the manufacturing, production, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services in that area.
Sociology: the study of society; a society is a group of people related to one another through persistent relations.
"Debt" is something that is owed or that one is bound to pay to or perform for another.
Where it gets fun is when we now have to create definitions between these terms that clearly have nothing to do with one another.
An economic debt should be pretty straight forward: it's the current debt we see many countries, including Canada, faced with. But what's an ecological debt?
According to some South American environmentalist groups, any time your country produces greenhouses gases and does not pay, you're creating an ecological debt. Of course, obvious questions remain unanswered: who are we supposed to pay? How much? Where? For what is this money used? How are these figures calculated?
And a social debt?
One source (who also praises Hugo Chavez, for the record) says it is "the large-scale, long-term social regression suffered by the vast majority of people." This assumes that you owe someone else something, hence the term debt. Another source states that social debt inflects a debt owed to American blacks by American whites.
So let's summarize... or... on second thought, I will not. What do you think these phrases mean? Considering their sources and definitions, what is the NDP leader really saying when he says Canada is creating "the largest ecological, economic and social debt in our history."
I await your responses!
Friday, April 20, 2012
Although Canada's Official Opposition is the NDP - a party bent on raising taxes and imposing billions of dollars in job-killing tax hikes on every sector imaginable - we must not forget about the Liberal Party of Canada, who, even after their worst showing in history in last May's election, still hold seats in the House of Commons.
Because of this, they're still more than able to waste thousands of dollars of Canadians' money - your money as well as mine - on ridiculous filibustering and gamesmanship for the purpose of freely promoting their own party.
Just like we saw yesterday at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP).
Parliamentarians are on a two-week break from sitting at the House of Commons. They weren't scheduled to return until Monday, April 23.
But that didn't stop Liberal MP Gerry Byrne from recalling the entire committee - 11 members, the chair, two committee researchers, and the comittee clerk - for what he and the Liberal Party insisted was an urgent debate to discuss the Auditor General's report on the F35.
So there sat 15 people who would have not been there had it not been for Mr. Byrne. Surely Mr. Byrne had urgent business to propose to the committee, right?
Er, well, er, yeah, they, uh... it seemed not even Byrne knew why he was there.
For two hours he fumbled through paperwork, attempting filibuster after filibuster to no avail.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Board Andrew Saxton proposed the committee hold a planning session on April 24 to determine who would testify on the F35 portfolio.
Byrne responded with "well here's my party-approved list of witnesses right here! Use them!"
The committee rejected his list - all members determine the list of witnesses, not just Mr. Byrne.
Then Byrne suggested "well, we're here! Let's hold the planning session right now!"
The committee rejected his suggestion - everyone was prepared to discuss witnesses on April 24, not immediately. And Mr. Byrne could hardly expect the committee to instantaneously know every single person they wish to call forward.
Finally Byrne suggested "well, at least don't hold the meetings in camera."
The committee rejected his suggestion, noting a future session would determine who, if anyone, would appear in camera.
This carried on for two hours. Two hours. Only to have the committee return to Mr. Saxton's original motion: big surprise, they're still meeting on April 24!
How much money did Mr. Byrne waste with his political games? How much money did Canadians - you and I - pay to fly 12 MP's back early to hold a special meeting? How much money was the clerk and researchers paid for their special appearance at this snap meeting? What did it cost to book the room for the Byrne's special meeting? Who else incurred costs that would have not otherwise been incurred due to Byrne's games (news crews? House technical staff)? Were any special allowances given to anyone appearing because of this snap meeting?
The Liberal Party of Canada: even though they're not the Official Opposition, they can still waste your money.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Hooray! The new NDP leader is here Canada! "Hello" as Thomas Mulcair would simply say.
Apparently these new ads introduce Mulcair to Canada and show how he's a "crusader" fighting that evil Conservative government (the government that has reduced or eliminated over 150 taxes on you and your family since 2006).
Mulcair will fight for your family, they say. But how is he fighting for your family by demanding you pay $12.6 billion per year for a cap-and-trade system?
How is he fighting for your family while demanding that Canada uphold Kyoto, the failed international environmental policy that would have cost Canada $14 billion had we not withdrew when we did?
How is he fighting for your family by demanding gas taxes be raised by 10 cents per litre?
The NDP cares if you make ends meet, they say. Unless you're a "scab" who wants to make ends meet while your union goes on strike. Then you're out of luck.
And best of all, a woman on a bicycle says Mulcair's NDP cares that she finds a good job. Of course they do - they want to use affirmative action to create 50% men 50% women on all boards and committees, but they won't explain which ones. So while this bike-riding woman is certainly being paid attention to, what about the other Canadians who just want to work? What about the qualified Canadians who want a job because they're qualified, not because they're a man or woman?
The Conservative Party of Canada clearly remains the party for you and your family. On top of lowering or eliminating over 120 taxes since 2006, they've introduced various family tax credits and created over 600,000 net new jobs since July 2009.
That's real action for your family. The NDP's ad leaves out key details about their high-tax, job-killing plans, which will do nothing but hurt your family.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Well that didn't take long. Less than two weeks after being elected leader of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair has flip-flopped the NDP's pro-marijuana stance.
In this interview with CTV News, Mulcair says they would not decriminalize marijuana. Juxtapose that with Jack Layton's statement that they would decriminalize marijuana. Mulcair also says it's "too easy an answer" to compare marijuana laws to prohibition, yet, surprise surprise, that's exactly what Jack Layton did.
It turns out Maclean's Magazine also caught this flip-flop. So when Mulcair is running for leadership, sure! Absolutely! He wants to decriminalize marijuana. But now that he has your vote, no, absolutely not! They don't want to decriminalize marijuana!
NDP members and supporters should be outraged.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Auditor General Michael Ferguson, the unilingual monster whom the NDP and Bloc Quebecois so vehemently opposed, released his Spring 2012 report today. This report is and will undoubtedly continue to get explosive media attention, as it deals with the F35 JSF program.
But from media headlines, you'd think the AG was giving a blanket doomsday judgment against Prime Minister Harper and his cabinet.
The Toronto Star said the report "slammed" the Harper government.
The Montreal Gazette said this was a "scathing report."
The Vancouver Sun says "heads must roll" because of this report.
Get the picture? If that isn't the most misleading and biased interpretation of the report as a whole I don't know what is.
In fact, the F35 is only one of the six chapters of the whole Spring Report.
So let's compare these inflammatory overstated media proclamations with reality.
On commercial imports coming through the border, Ferguson says "in most cases, the consumer goods in our audit that pose a risk to health and safety are adequately controlled at the border by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the federal organizations responsible for them."
On interest-bearing debt management, The AG says "Department of Finance Canada has a sound decision-making system in place to support and develop effective market debt strategies. It has a risk management framework that allows it to respond to emerging risks and changes in funding requirements."
On civil aviation oversight, Ferguson says "Transport Canada has made real progress in its new approach to safety oversight. It has revised its surveillance methodology to be consistent with this approach, and its rigorous regulatory framework for civil aviation safety is consistent with international standards."
On Canada Revenue Agency operations, Ferguson says they need to do more to catch cheaters who don't register properly for their GST/HST credits.
On reviewing some federal Crown corporations, he says there were "no significant deficiencies in our 2011 special examinations of the Canadian Dairy Commission, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board."
Also of interest, Ferguson notes that 82 percent of $6.7 billion in appropriations (about $5.49 billion) in the 2010-2011 fiscal year went to five Canadian Crown Corporations: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, and VIA Rail Canada Inc.
Will you find any of these positive quotes in the media? Of course not! Most media outlets are focused on obstructing and colouring the realities under the Conservative government with their artificial rhetoric. Are there issues with the F35 procurement? Absolutely. When you're purchasing multiple aircraft which cost several billion dollars, while coordinating internationally with other countries doing the same, issues are bound to arise. But if you read the actual report, you'll find the AG is actually quite happy with the Conservative government, while of course making recommendations in various departments.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Since spring is here and summer is on its way, it's time for the Occupy resistance to gear up again. You remember Occupy right? The protest of greedy students and leftists complaining they have to work? The "movement" that is really a resistance comprised of union bosses and paid protesters?
Yes, after being arrested and disbanded in the winter, or simply going back to their parents' basement because it was too cold, the Occupiers are back again! After all, why get one of those proletariat student summer jobs when you can camp in a park, sexually assault people, and do all the drugs you want, all summer long?!
But even after being disbanded - kicked out of parks after breaking countless laws and destroying the area, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars - they're not giving up.
Now they're receiving specialized training from unions - the original complainers. Some have even suggested that this entire resistance is just astroturf - that it's really orchestrated and was in fact created by unions who, of course, take any chance possible to hurt corporations (and ironically, thus the very workers the unions represent).
So the proponents of the Occupy resistance are attempting to use their official union resources to train Occupiers. At least now we can see the clear connection between unions - who inherently argue against corporations and demand higher taxes - and Occupiers - who continue to argue against corporations, against corporations... and... uh... what else? Ah hell, down with corporations again!
I especially find it fascinating that they're claiming to train 100,000 people, yet these occupations have seen a dismal turnout. In Vancouver – a city of 2.3 million people, and the hub of many socially progressive ideals could only muster an ineffectual protest of one tenth of one percent. In Ottawa, 2,863 people said they’d attend that "massive" rally, yet roughly 500 people actually showed up, and only one tenth of that number – 50 to 60 people – stayed the night. So in a city of almost one million residents and Canada's capital, 50 people were committed.
Will most of these 100,000, if they can even find 100,000 people, just be people who already belonged to the unions? I think so.