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February, 2011:

Trudeau’s take on McCarthy

 

 

 

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The Oscars – whatta crock – instead, I’ll be watching the new chicken channel!

I’ve never been one for award shows. To me, they seem like annual self-indulgent, self-congratulatory glitzy and over the top spectacles that symbolise all that is wrong about Western culture.

And it’s not just the Academy Awards. All of those Hollywood pieces of crap with their red carpets, designer clothes (“who are you wearing” – GAG!) and fake smiles. And a gazillion folks will be wasting their time watching this smut tonight!

Get a life, people!

OK – I needed to vent. Bad day today what with the Gunners LOSING to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final. BIRMINGHAM!!!! As a friend said on Fabebook earlier,

Birmingham – don’t we do nuclear testing there…SHOUDN’T WE DO NUCLEAR TESTING THERE…Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……………….

And that’s not all! I had the fortune of being treated to the usual big telecom company crap about not giving a shit about the customer! I worked it out with a customer “service” rep last week to allow me my daughter to do the hardware upgrade thing a few weeks early (ooooo… what a favour!) as she lost her phone last weekend a need something new.

“Yes, sir!” That was the answer I was given after the rep went back and forth with her Supervisor for about 10 minutes. “She can do the full upgrade”.

Woo-hoo! BUT, we get to the Bellworld (who was the slacker who thought of THAT name for their stores?) and the upgrade is NOT in the system! I get pissed off. The kid too. And we stomp out of there having wasted a good half hour of our lives that we will never get back! What incompetence!

Yeah, switch companies, right? Sure. And the service I get from Rogers or would be privy to from Telus, et al would be any better? J’en doute! Besides, she is taking responsibility for this phone which means she really doesn’t want to pay the C note that Rogers charges for the 8 Gb iPhone.

Anyhooooo… back to work tomorrow where all will be peachy keen coming up roses. No complications. No drama.

Right?

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Ontario Hydro and Agent Orange

This is a tad disturbing.

Seems as though a few decades back, Ontario Hydro went a bit crazy with that popular defoliant, Agent Orange. You know, the one used in Vietnam?

And in my old neck of the woods (so to speak).

I might have come across the after effects as a kid. I clearly recall riding in the dump truck with my Dad around about 1972 or so and seeing swaths of bush cleared out along power line corridors. It almost looked like it had been burned.

“Every power line in Ontario was sprayed,” said Sidney Rodger, a former Hydro supervisor who worked in Eastern Ontario from 1958 to 1968. “All this spraying was done in urban and rural areas with no regard for creeks and streams or residents and wildlife.”

Wow. How times have changed. We sometimes sorta care about the environment now and then – as long as it doesn’t cost much inconvenience us or create any negative publicity.

And, of course, Hydro One must be taking some responsibility for the employees’ negative health outcomes that have resulted from exposure to the chemicals? Right?

Hydro One pointed the Star to a different study, based on a questionnaire, that concluded forestry workers who were routinely exposed to poisonous herbicides were no more likely to die of cancer than men in the general population, though it did show a significant increase in suicide.

Or not.

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Friday miscellany

One of the few TV shows I’ll watch if I happen to be parked in front of the idiot box and it happens to be on is Dragons Den. Dunno why, but I find it entertaining. But news emerged yesterday that my fave Dragon, Brett Wilson, won’t be returning next season. Seems that the MotherCorp and Mr. Wilson are at odds over something. Probably money.  Too bad – he was the compassionate and understanding one on the show. Who will they replace him with? Maybe this guy:

The Toronto Maple Leafs – playoff bound. Deal with it. Great win over the hated Habs last night.  But that was apparently not due to a game well-played but attributable to due to my Hab-loving brother-in-law forgetting to read the Montreal-win-guaranteeing bedtime story to my niece last night. Thanks Steve!

Gas prices. They suck, don’t they. A buck 20 here in Ottawa. This time the excuse is the unrest in Libya. But really, can’t anything be twisted by the oil companies to justify higher prices? Just for fun, I’ve listed a few more high price justifications that Big Oil might want to add to their list for future use.

  • Rabid bats swoop in on the National Cheesemakers Association annual picnic.
  • 15% increase in taxi fares in Bogota
  • A whooping crane is sighted in Parry Sound
  • Vladimir Putin is photographed riding a horse while bare-chested
  • Muammar Ghadaffi gets a haircut
  • John Baird shows signs of civility

Speaking of Ghadaffi, I wonder how long he’ll be able to hold on to power. Anyone want to start a pool?

Looks like the ReformCons might be paying a wee bit for the whole lying thing. Then again, maybe not. I’m starting to lose complete faith in the judgement of many of my fellow Canadians.

OC Transpo? ATU? Don’t you dare!

Private property rights to be enshrined in the Constiution? You betcha, if two Con pols have their way. But really, isn’t this just a little publicity stunt? It is certainly something that Randy “stay of my land, gub-er-ment… oh wait, I AM gub-er-ment now” Hillier is familiar with.

But what the hell, why not? And why you’re add it boys, why not add an amendment that allows for the elimination of Ontario’s separate school system! Now THAT would be progress!

 

 

 

 

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A quick post on Calgary

Yes, it has been quite cold in Cow Town for the past couple of days… but for an Ottawan, that’s no biggie… unless your colleagues want to WALK everywhere. You KNOW who you are!

Not good for my bald head, I say. The brain freeze hit layer two of my brain. But harm no done.

Er.

Anyhow, I just wanted to note a few things I have noticed in the past few days while here in Calgary.

  • If this is Calgary after the Big Boom that ended in 2008, I cannot imagine what the pre-2008 boom years skyline looked like. Cranes on high-rises abound. Construction is everywhere. This is a happening place. There is talk of replacing or upgrading the SaddleDome. I’d hate to have to find a sub-trade to do some minor work around the house.
  • Speaking of the SaddleDome… if there are any serious climbers reading this, and you are looking for a great place to train – buy hockey tickets on the 300 level. It’s as good as climbing Kilimanjaro.
  • Calgarians are confident. Right from the cab driver who crowed about the new 58 story tower (The Bow Tower) that is nearing completion (tallest building west of T.O., he said) to the clerk in the western apparel shop and everyone in between, these folks know they are in a city that is at the top of its game.
  • And prices for just about everything (except gas) reflect this burinin’ economy. Early Bird parking rates: $37 a day. A low end steak (just the steak – no sides): $38. And cab rates that are every bit as pricey as ByTown. Costly place to visit and to live.
  • I, unfortunately, did not have time to stop by and say hi to the new Mayor. Maybe next time.

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Honesty in Canadian politics? What a crazy notion!

I have seldom come across an article in The Mark that would I consider to be less than stellar in editorial quality, content and analysis. They are more often than not on the “mark”.

Aand they continue this high standard with an article on “truth” in politics penned by Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch.

Conacher challenges the ho-hum attitude of many Canadians these days when it comes to holding our elected representatives up to high moral and ethical standards – more specifically: telling the truth.

*Gasp*!

And we see this shoulder-shrugging a lot, don’t we? Ask a half-dozen folks what they think of Bev Oda’s recent blatant disregard for “truthiness”, and I say that at least a few of them will respond with a “Meh, so she lied. Isn’t that what they ALL do?”… implying that if everyone does it, what’s the big deal?

Granted, members on both sides of the House have been caught red-handed in lies on a number of occasions over the past couple of decades, so this public cynicism is bit understandable.

But it doesn’t make lying right. After all, isn’t honesty required of us, as citizens, by the government?

As the article correctly notes:

Politicians have passed many laws that demand honesty from Canadians. From welfare applicants to taxpayers to corporate executives, it is illegal for Canadians to lie, and high penalties are in place to discourage dishonesty.

Go ahead, lie on your income tax return and see what happens if you get caught. Tell a fib about anything on an official government form on any level and see if the responsible agency says “meh”.

No. In fact, you should “lawyer up”! Stating falsehoods on government forms is usually punishable by fines or imprisonment.

So why is it such a stretch to expect the same level of honesty from our pols as they demand of us? And why aren’t there laws or regulations in place that penalise dishonesty? Oh, there are some, you say…

But when it comes to political candidates lying to voters, or to politicians and government officials misleading the public, almost anything goes. This is because the laws that are in place to prevent politicians from lying are vague, and enforcement agencies are often reluctant to act in such cases. In fact, in most parts of Canada it is illegal for candidates to make written pledges saying that they will take specific actions if elected.

So, tell me wanna-be Government A or Government B, who will have the balls to propose an honesty-in-politics law? Who will finally say that an upward motion on the ol’ democracy bar is long overdue? Call me crazy, but this might be something that would register with voters and lift them from indifference and sub-50% voter turnout rates! What an issue to run with!

No takers?

Going once….

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Is the blog really dead?

Warren Kinsella thinks so.

Do you?

Has the blog been surpassed by Twitter and Facebook as the communication tool of choice? Already?

Food for thought.

My take is that blogs will go back to being what they were in the early years (10ish years ago) – very narrowly-focused issue-based discussion forums – rather than rambling prose wandering  across all levels of subject matter and quality.

Blogs are not dead but will undergo quite a transformation in the next few years.

But my crystal ball is in the shop for repairs right now…

And I’m not quite ready to pack in Trashy’s World just yet…

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The need for a discussion about our cities

From iPolitics.ca

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was on The House this weekend to elaborate on his vision for a “muscular, urban agenda.” Nenshi said he is eager to keep talking about long-term, stable funding for cities. “Here’s my fantasy,” he said. “We’ll have a federal election some day. … And if in part of that election, we could actually have a debate — have a discussion — around the various parties and their agendas as they relate to municipalities and cities across this country, that would be amazing.”

About 80% of Canada’s population live in its cities. So why are policies at the federal level so slanted toward rural areas? Witness the “debate” over the Gun Registry, for example. Nothing but a clear attempt at pandering to rural voters.

Even the HoC seat distribution tilts toward non-urban areas. If there were to be proper re-distribution of seats to Ontario, Alberta and B.C (like Bill C – 12 proposed), most of the new seats would be in and around urban communities. And this would go some way in correcting the imbalance.

But what Mayor Nenshi wants is more than just a few more seats for our cities. He wants a real and non-partisan national discussion including all levels of government on

  • what needs to be done to avoid our cities from becoming like several American centers, like Detroit, for example.
  • who should pay for it
  • and what the timetable should be

“My message to the provincial and the federal governments — and to those hoping to form government — is it’s time to talk about cities,” he said.

Nenshi, who has often repeated his conviction that cities will drive Canada’s growth and prosperity, said it was time to allow those cities “the resources, the powers, and the authorities that they need in order to do the work that [they] must do every day.”

The current framework, Nenshi argued, is outdated, based on legislation that in Alberta’s case has remained largely unchanged since the province entered Confederation.

That framework has left cities with the burden of delivering a host of services, but their hands on the levers of only two sources of revenue: user fees and property taxes. The result, Nenshi says, is a fiscal imbalance that is crucially in need of repair.

Clearly this man is a visionary and his thoughts should be heeded. This country is in dire need of more leaders like Mr. Nenshi. Calgary is fortunate to have him! Let’s hope that other municipal leaders are listening and start to shape some of these ideas into policy proposals that can be presented to politicians at the provincial and federal levels.

Time for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to step up to the plate and use its considerable influence to shape change!

Hmmmm… I’m in Calgary on business next week. Maybe I should stop in and say hi to Mayor Nenshi…

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Friday miscellany – Hugh Segal, OC Transpo and Justin Bieber! And more!

Hugh Segal is calling for a North American union!

If sovereignty is an instrument to be used to expand freedom and opportunity, then surely the use by us of our own sovereignty to build a North American Community must also be seen as an attempt to create a larger society that reflects our values and priorities. This should be a Conservative and conservative priority.

Align ourselves closer with the States??? Is he on crack? He he seen their über-gazillion dollar deficit and ÜBER-über-gazillion dollar debt? Their crime?

SARAH FREAKIN’-PALIN????????????

And Mexico???

C’mon Hugh – quit hitting the bong before writing!

Justin Bieber

OK – there it goes. My blog has been a Bieber-free zone, but I had to say something about his Rolling Stone interview.

First – the kid is 16. Sixteen. Why the hell would the RS ask questions about his views on abortion? C’mon!

And this picture:

Not only is he all dolled up to look like a male version of a floozy. But HOW DARE RS write a piece on one of the greatest bands of all time in the same issue as Bieber! Joe Strummer is rolling in his grave!

Harper – Fire her.

Arsenal: you rock! Now to wrap up a match against Leyton Orient in the FA, Beat Birmingham for the Carling Cup, beat Barca at Camp Nue on the second leg and continue the march to the EPL championship! A quadruple is close at hand!

An OC Transpo driver was yelling obscenities at a passenger and he was caught on a cell phone camera.

I saw a teenager being whisked away by Transpo cops after a loud back and forth with a couple of other “special” constables.

The open data project winner’s app being pulled because a) OC Transpo wants to make a few bucks off of it and b) better monitoring of bus arrival times through publicly available apps using GPS technology – well, that would show some things that perhaps the organization does not want see.

Now this: seems the ATU is pissed off again.

Complaining that the city has unilaterally imposed a work-booking system on OC Transpo drivers when an arbitrator ordered the city and union to negotiate one together, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 has cut off bargaining with the City of Ottawa.

Oh great. Mayor Watson? City Council? Maybe locking this union out – in July – might do the trick!

And oh, public relations isn’t exactly OC Transpo’s strong point, is it?

First Tunisia, then Egypt, then Yemen, then Bahrain, then Libya, who is next? Interesting times, indeed!

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Even conservatives are being turned off by the antics of the Harperites!

I’m not going to jump into the OdaGate debacle. Nor am I going to rant again against the attack ads that the CPC continues to run. The description of the what she did and the outright condemnation by Canadian of all stripes has been well-covered in the MSM and the blogosphere. As well, there does seem to be a bit of a backlash against the attack ads that the Harperites continue to air.

Regular readers of this corner of cyberspace know where I stand on these things.

Instead, I want to look at what some conservatives themselves are saying.

From My Corner of the Universe, re: Oda:

It’s a big deal because it proves that politicians can’t truly be trusted.  It proves that the CPC has members that can’t be trusted.  It proves that the CPC has lost those true conservative values and are willing to do whatever it takes to stay in office.

I was willing to overlook the attack ads.  All the parties slam each other, it seems to be an expected behaviour.  The Minister of Finance has done an okay job, despite his apparent ignorance of basic economic principles.  But bald-faced lying is the straw that’s broken the camel’s back.  I cannot, will not, support a party that not only encourages its members to lie, but supports it as well.

From the Blogging Tories forum:

What Ms. Oda is, in fact, a big deal. The facts seem to verify that she did lie and deliberately try to deceive Parliment (sic). It’s an old story. The coverup is worse than the crime (think Nixon and Clinton). What her punishment, if any,will be is anyones (sic) guess but I suspect she will simply go to the back benches in the next cabinet shuffle.

From Searching for Liberty:

And if you notice, Bev Oda signed the recommendation..  err.. the “NOT” recommendation, some two months after the other two committee members.  One might guess that amongs (sic) the thousands of civil servants in Ottawa, maybe, as this obviously wasn’t an urgent priority, they might have found one employee to re-type the form, or maybe, oh I’m just spit-balling here.. maybe Bev Oda could have written a whole sentence in her own handwriting saying, “I respectfully decline to approve” or something like that.

Call me crazy, but as a government Minister, I’m guessing she talks and writes occasionally in complete sentences.

I’ll tell you what.

I’m guessing the committee reviews these things and then comes to a unanimous decision as a rule.  And then they draft the memo and they circulate it for signatures.

And then they sign the stupid form.

But this time, someone vetoed them.

I’d like to know who.

But then, as a card-carrying Conservative, who donates to the party.. I’m just another one of those lefties in a knot.

Not.

I’m a Conservative who doesn’t like weasels when they are Liberals and I don’t like them any more when they are Conservatives.

In fact, I like them less.. because I don’t expect federal Liberals to be honest and open.

From Conservatives, I expect more.

And finally, from The Squid Zone on attack ads:

It has become clear, however, the the Conservative Party of Canada wishes to lower the standards of political behaviour.  Instead of educated and intelligent people debating issues and presenting facts, CPC would prefer to sling mud and make attacks worthy of any kindergarten sandbox.  I am embarrassed that a party of conservatives – people who value our best traditions (that is what “conservative” means) – would go out of their way to try and destroy what I think is one of our best traditions: gentlemanly discourse in the political arena.

I wish to make this perfectly clear.  The Conservative Party of Canada will not get so much as a penny from me, nor will any CPC candidate gain my support in an election as long as the party continues to produce or run attack advertising.  If the party cannot stand on its record and on its position on issues, it is unequivocally unworthy of my support financially and at the polls.

There is just one thing to remember – Oda and the CPC communication folks take their marching orders from the same person: Stephen Harper. Bev Oda may indeed be a competent Minister, but Harper has set her up in order to knock her down. Make no mistake about that.

Maybe, just maybe the politics of cynicism and division will eventually catch up with our dear PM. The polls are not showing that currently, but rather than illustrating asurge in support for the CPC, I really think that they are a reflection of the unpopularity of Iggy – whether he deserves this or not is another matter.

Here’s what I think will happen in the election that is almost sure to happen this spring. There will be good CPC strength right through the campaign… showing numbers close to a majority. But what happens on E-day might be different as I suspect that just enough conservative supporters will either stay at home or hold their noses and vote for the Grits if they have a good local candidate.

And *poof*! Another minority ReformCon government.

And you know what? They will have only themselves to blame.

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