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July, 2009:

Pork barrel politics in Cottage Country

I take a particular interest in the political goings-ons in Parry Sound Muskoka. After all, I grew up there, all of my family (save moi) still call it home and I ran as a candidate there in the ’93 General Election. So I do retain an emotional attachment to the place.

A place that is now represented by Tony Clement at the Federal level… a ReformCon from a time when the party wasn’t even yet birthed.  A key part of Mike “The Monster” Harris’ Common Nonsense Revolution, Big Tony moved over to the Harperite bunch a while back and has had a few plum cabinet appointments.

Seems like Big Tony has become Uncle Tony to many of the riding’s folks as he is handing out big bags of moolah to almost everyone who asks! And all in the name of the G8 Summit due to take place outside of Huntsville, Ontario next year... Huntsville is one of the larger centres in the riding.

Funny thing is that much of the largesse (as noted in the article) is not really targeted toward the Summit at all. The Summit is being used as a convenient excuse to practice some good ol’ pork barrel politics.

Now, you may say, so what? Don’t they all do it?

Well, no. Not to this degree.

Big Tony unseated Grit Andy Mitchell a couple of elections back and before him was the legendary Tory,  Stan Darling. Both were very, very good constituency MPs. Looked after their folks well and found money when needed and warranted. But never was present this flagrant and cynical misuse of the public purse in order to buy votes! Yeah – Parry Sound gets some new infrastructure and street work.  Baysville gets some new washrooms. And many other small communities in the riding will get some cash infusions.

And none of these places will have anything to do with next year’s Summit.

Are the ReformCons worried about their prospects here in the next election?  Probably not – it’s just another example of the Politics of Cynicism.

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Bright and shiny thing dives into Ottawa River

Police have called off the search for something that several folks saw bright lights seemingly crash into the Ottawa River.

Given that the helicopters, boats and divers have come up empty-handed, whatever it was that made its mysterious appearance and disappearance is up for grabs. But I have some suggestions as to possible identity of what crashed and burned.

  1. Mayorlarry’s future as mayorlarry
  2. Dany Heatley’s future as an Ottawa Senator
  3. Stephen Harper’s chances of a majority government – ever
  4. A UCM (unidentified cabinet Minister) who dared to RSVP “yes” to the invitation to the Mulroney 25th anniversary bash next month
  5. The next Conservative Communications Director falling from the heavens
  6. Thor – the thunder god – smiting Ottawa with yet another bolt of lightning
  7. Michael J. Fox in a Bricklin
  8. David Miller jumping – or being pushed – from a plane
  9. An OC Transpo bus taking a really wrong turn off the bridge… and failing to call out the stop
  10. Barack Obama making a secret visit back to Ottawa to pick up a few more of those yummy maple cookies

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Intervention in Nortel sale

There has been a lot of back and forth on whether the proposed sale of Nortel’s wireless business should be blocked by the Feds. The non-interventionists say that blocking the move would cast a pallor on future foreign direct investment in Canada. And they have a point. If I were a foreign investor looking for some assets to pick up, I would be very hesitant to look to Canada if there was a strong possibility of a deal being scuttled at the 11th hour.

On the other hand, much of the R&D carried out by Nortel was in part funded by the Canadian taxpayer through grants, tax credits and the like. Plus, it is important to keep higher paying, skilled  jobs in Canada wherever we can. And, from the sounds of the guy speaking for Ericsson, this is by no means for certain.

10% of the 25,000 jobs retained? Gee, thanks.

Industry Minister, Tony Clement, was his usual eloquent self

“I’m not ruling out intervening, and I’m not ruling out not intervening,” Clement told reporters today in Gatineau, Quebec. “In order to not pre-judge the issue, I have to keep my options open.”

Thanks for clarifying that Tony!

So will the Harperites move on this or not? I leave it to the TorStar writer James Travers to sum it up:

Run a moist finger down the list of Conservative priorities and find Conservative demographics. Twice trimming the GST, positioning punishment at the centre of criminal justice and spending big on the military are as popular with the party base as an aggressive green plan, a balanced foreign policy or best-and-brightest education and industrial strategies are not.

That’s understandable, familiar and fair enough. As Brian Mulroney memorably observed, “Ya gotta dance with those that brung ya.”

So it’s really no surprise the Prime Minister is rushing public billions to the rescue of the multinational auto giants while making it easy for foreigners to buy what’s left of Canadian icon Nortel.

Not just the dominant industry in Ontario, the province that decides federal elections, the auto sector also employs many thousands of those ordinary, hard-working, tax-paying folks Harper talks about so often.

On the other hand, Nortel’s payroll is largely offshore and those who do work here are not stereotypical Conservative voters.

Bye-bye Nortel…

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Labour settlements – as they should be

Breaking news out of Ottawa this morning that the Via Rail strike is over almost as soon as it started. Both sides have agreed to a mediated settlement and service will be back on “track” starting today.

IMO, the engineers really did not have a choice but strike as they had been without a contract for 2 1/2 years. And the tactic worked – as we can see this morning. Contrast this to the protracted and bitter OC Transpo strike a few months ago where neither side was willing to give an inch. Instead of reaching a sane and mature agreement that would not consist of fighting a battle on the backs of riders, both the ATU and the City of Ottawa decided instead to behave like two kids in a sandbox fighting over a toy bulldozer.

Congrats to both the Union and Via Rail for showing us how labour relations should be carried on.

I wonder if the City of Toronto and their municipal workers are paying attention?

One sidebar to this: Canadian Press and canada.com broke this story on their websites well over three hours before the two so-called “major” media outlets (cbc.ca and globeandmail.com)… cutbacks in action, folks.

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I guess I have to strike Ireland off my list of places to visit

… cuz it would cost me BIG TIME! Like 25,000 Euros!

In a bold legislative move that further defines this as a nation that has yet to see its way clear of the Dark Ages, Ireland has declared blasphemy to be illegal!

I don’t swear TOO much, but I figger I’d be in hock inside a week.

blas⋅phe⋅my

–noun, plural -mies.

1. impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.
2. Judaism.

a. an act of cursing or reviling God.
b. pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in the original, now forbidden manner instead of using a substitute pronunciation such as Adonai.
3. Theology. the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.
4. irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.: He uttered blasphemies against life itself.

In order to be found guilty, there has to be proof that the offender intended to cause outrage with a statement that is abusive or insulting. The statement also has to produce a violent reaction.

The bill states that a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if:

  • He or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.
  • He or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

The bill puts the onus on a defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.

Note that the onus is on the defendant to show that there was “merit” in his or her blasphemous statement.

OK. Here’s the scenario, I’m in a pub in Ireland, sipping a pint and watching an EPR match.  Arsenal loses to Man. U on a poorly called penalty and I say:

GOD DAMN IT!

There’s a collection or righteous and pious citizens gathered in the corner and talking about which books they should burn next. Upon hearing my loud and proud exclamation, they get righteously and piously pissed and are outraged that I would speak such blasphemy.  In fact, one of them righteously and piously hurls a book of matches at me… quite a violent reaction, that!

So the cops show up and these righteous and pious good citizens explain the situation and how this blasphemer has caused outrage among them and how that outrage led to the violent act of throwing said matchbook.

My sorry ass is hauled off to the hold-up (I’m hoping they don’t have Tasers in Ireland!) and the next day I have to explain to a Magistrate how my

GOD DAMN IT!

was an expression of  genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value.

Yeah, ching-ching! There goes a heap of Euros flying off to live with the Leprachauns.

Problem is that I, as an atheist, pretty much equate the belief of a god with the belief in those little green men with beards who will lead you to that pot-of-gold! And I’m pretty sure there are plenty of Irish who feel the same way.

WHOA! Was THAT a blasphemous statement or what!

Here in Canada, there is a libellous blasphemy law in the books but it is happily superceded by our Charter rights.

Woo-hoo!

blasphemy1

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Remind me

why we are sacrificing our young men and women in places like Afghanistan.

Please, remind me.

Killing your own kids in the name of honour? These subhumans have no place in this country – or any country for that matter – and our troops should have no role in preserving this way of life if this is by any means accepted as the norm.

Stevo – plan an exit strategy. Now.

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This just in – godless socialists responsible for garbage strike – film at 11.

Kinsella has unearthed yet another priceless diatribe penned by a contributor to that most “honourable” group called “Blogging Tories”.

He is going so far to claim that the denizens of T.O. deserve what they get re: the civic workers strike because they keep electing socialists.  Apparently this is the reason why my beloved Leafs and Jays have also has a few bad years.

OK. A few more than a few.

Yeah – socialism is to blame for everything, I guess. This guy calls himself a “christian”, so I guess he sees the citizens of Hogtown the same way as he’s see Soviets – as “godless” socialists?

Religion and ReformCons… a weird but dangerous mix. Don’t read before operating heavy equipment!

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The U.S. adds to its troop strength

In yet another valiant attempt to add to its already $37 gazillion budgetary deficit, the Obama administration has decided to increase its troop strength to deal with pressures overseas.

Though it is sometimes difficult to keep track of exactly how many wars Uncle Sam has his fingers in, these new low income, inner-city and naive brave troops will be based in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, can someone please explain to me what kind of warped logic would lead otherwise rational men and women to, during the greatest economic crisis since the 1930’s (and possibly ever) decide to add to America’s growing economic malaise by investing further in two wars that are going very, very badly.  It is akin to a household with multiple and huge credit card debt to take out another credit card, draw the max cash advance, and give the money to that lazy uncle who you know is going to head straight to the track and lose the bundle. Bad idea, right?

Here’s a thought for Obama and for Harper too. Instead of digging yourself deeper in these unwinnable wars, start planning your exit strategy. The money spent on troops can be more wisely invested at home on helping your countries get through these difficult economic times.

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A horrific story is ending…

It looks like the OPP has found the remains of that poor little girl who went missing back in the spring.

So, so very sad.

As a parent, I cannot come close to imagining what her parents have been through over the past few months.

As a human being, I cannot imagine what kind of person could do something so horrible to one so young and innocent.

Horrific occurences like these are yet further confirmations of my atheism. There cannot exist a god who would permit the existence of those who murdered this child. Nor a god who would allow a child to feel such suffering at the hands of these beasts.

I hope they are both prosecuted to the full extent of our country’s law. There must NOT be a repeat of the Homolka travesty.

My thoughts are with Tori’s family and friends.

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Well, so much for procreating…

Just dismantled my last crib and replaced it with a bed.

Yet, in 1979 if you would have told me that by the time I hit my mid-40’s, I woulda spawned 3 mini-me’s… well, I woulda told ya you were on a sweet herb.

It’s a bit sad. That’s it. No more babies. No more cribs. No more.

Great in a big way, but very much a reminder of my own mortality in another.

But he had a big, big smile on face when he lay down in his “big boy’s bed” tonight. And that, my friends, makes parenthood, however finite, worth every moment.

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