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Stockwell Day

Chuck Strahl – number 2

So, on the same day that Day announced his step-back from the bs on the Hill, another of Harper’s stalwarts, Chuck Strahl, has also announced that he will not seek re-election.

Even I, as an anti-Stevo centrist, am saddened to see Mr. Strahl leave. As much as I am sure that, over coffee, we would have had little in common, he struck me as an intelligent and principled man who was as uncomfortable with the cynical and bombastic rhetoric as much as some of his other attack dog caucus mates thrived on it. (read: Toews, Baird, Polievre, Kenney).

Thanks for your service, Mr. Strahl.

Now to the real question: what’s really going on? Why are the longtime foundations of the CPC picking “now” to get to the exit…

Things that make you go hmmmmm…

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Que sera sera: Doris is hanging up the wet suit

I am, in a throw up in your mouth kinda way, a wee bit saddened to hear that after much “prayerful” consideration, Stockwell Day has decided to not seek re-election.

He has provided those of us who do not occupy the extreme right hand room in the Canadian political igloo much, MUCH glee over the years.The guy has been a walking parody. A talking editorial cartoon. The subject of many, many blog posts by many, many bloggers.

And now he will be gone.

Who can forget The Word of Stock:

Because, my sons and daughters, ye must trust the Word of Stock as you trust the Word of Stephen God. So trust my holy word on this matter and know that there have been more sins committed against thine person and thine property than in the past. Know this and go forth and spread the Gospel. For it is Right and True.

Amen and Praise the Stephen!

Then there was the Rick Mercer campaign to have Day change his name to Doris. Mercer wanted to show how easy it was to get the 3% of the population to sign a petition to initiate a referendum vote. Unless you were living under a rock at the time, he did indeed get more than enough signatures. About 700,000ish, if I recall.

But Day retained his name. Spoilsport.

Finally, who can forget this image:

Bye-bye Stock! We don’t know what we’ll do without ya!

……

Aw shucks, sure we do! We still have these two:

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2010 – the year that was…

It is time for my end of the year / beginning of the year summary post about the YEAR THAT WAS…

In January, I blabbed on a lot about Harper’s prorogation of Parliament. And yeah, yeah, yeah – it was perfectly legal… but so are coalition governments…

But the story that touched me the deepest – and still does – was the Haitian earthquake. And from the news reports coming out of this impoverished nation, things have not improved a great deal a year later. I don’t think that the big players on the world stage, as global citizens with global responsibilities, have stepped up to the plate as much as they should have .

Hopefully, 2011 will see some improvements.

February brought the Great Onion Ring versus Harper popularity contest! Had some fun with that! But it also brought the Olympics to Vancouver. And while Canada did well in terms of the number of medals won by our athletes, I still question the purpose of such an extravaganza in terms of how $3 billion could have been put to better use. The Squid Dude put it well when he said:

This is a back-of-the-napkin calculation, but I think that $3 billion would allow the government to replace every car and truck over the age of 5 or 7 years for every person who has one in Canada.  This would boost the auto industry, boost the economy, and clean up the air.  Every junker could be taken off the road.

And that was reason #7 of 13.

March, March, March… it’s usually a month where I’m in a funk from a mood point of view – and the 2010 edition was no different. I especially liked this post that I scribbled that wasn’t about much else aside from bitchin’ and complainin’.

The end of the month was all about my second visit to Beijing – and it looks as if I’ll be back there in April 2011.

April 2010 saw the great Icelandic volcano that halted trans-Atlantic and European air travel for weeks. It was also the month when I chose to rant about my second fave rantable subject – WalMart. I like ranting on the Evil Empire – and it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll do it again in 2011.

Oh, and that oil rig went kablooey in the Gulf of Mexico… which segues into..

May was a time when we were hearing about the environmental catastrophe that was unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Negligence. Neglect. Lack of regulation. George W. Bush. All came together in a massive perfect storm to create the BP disaster.

June was the month of the Great Ottawa Earthquake! OK, it would have been barely a shudder for someone from California, but it caused quite a ruckus around these parts.

It was also the month where Canada saw the police-state-like actions at the Gee-Score Summit in Toronto. Forget about the fake lakes and the political posturing for a moment and think about these over the top heavy handed tactics that were used against what was largely a peaceful set of protests.

Besides, why do we need these expensive photo ops at all? Can’t the world leaders teleconference? Or hold the meetings on an island somewhere where security would be less of a concern? But nope – not gonna happen because they are indeed just photo ops.

June was also a time when I finally got completely disgusted by Don Cherry – and I thought that the limits to my disgust had been reached… until later in the year when he spoke at Rob Ford’s (again – welcome Toronto to Ottawa of 2006!) induction as the mayor of Hogtown. Please, PLEASE make 2011 the year that his tacky, bigoted white ass is shown the door!

Upon looking at my posts from July, I see that I was all over the map from a subject matter point of view… though a mid-summer anti-ReformCon trend was clearly there. Lot of ruckus in Canada about issues that would normally not be headline inducing, but rather more coma-inducing… big oopsies courtesy of the communication plebs at the PMO!

I did like this particular missive that I scribbled that month and still laugh a bit to myself upon a re-read.

The dog days of August kicked in with a number of posts focussig on some specific Harperites. Stockwell Day was the target of a couple of these.

You know, as much as I hate to say it, I hope bozos like Day, Polievre, Baird and Toews stick around for a while! Canadian bloggers would have much less to write about if they were ever defeated or abandoned politics!

The latter part of the month was the point where I went into full municipal governance mode… and have stayed on this track ever since.

To expand a bit – I take pleasure in writing about local politics and local issues – especially those that impact education in the City. The local levels of decision-making is what touches each of us the most in our day to day lives and we should pay close attention to who are the players managing this ship.

And I also enjoy learning more about the strengths and weaknesses in this province’s systems of education. Hey, I have three children – two of whom will be in the “system” for a long time to come… so why wouldn’t I take an interest?

September and October was all about the municipal elections and my run at a School Board seat. And while I don’t at all regret running and really learned a lot about our system of public education the campaign was quite tiring for me and my family.  However, I am well aware that if I were to run again – and be successful – that the job of the Trustee would be many, many more times taxing on the ol’ endurance thing than a simple campaign.

Trustees do much, are paid little and ask for ziltch in return. Even if you do not agree with them all of the time – please respect them.

November saw little activity on my blog except for my accounts of the second trip of the year to Beijing.

There was nothing remarkable about December. The WikiLeaks controversery carries on and more and more government are getting pissed at Julien Assnage. And no, I don’t think that the guy is some sort of über folk hero, but I do think that this has been a wake-up call for governments everywhere about the way that they manage and guard information.

It was also the month where the winners of the October municipal elections took their seats and were appointed to Committees. The OCDSB has taken a bit of a leftward veer and Ottawa City Council – with all of the new faces – is still in the honeymoon stage… but that may end soon if the ATU again starts to worry folks about job actions.

I haven’t covered everything in this post. Chilean miners. The World Cup (and those damned vuvuzelas!). Wacky weather in much of the world.

And I won’t even get started on the purchase of those fancy-schmancy fighter jets that the Harperites think we need in order to defend ourselves from the Commie threat… Nope. Won’t go there. My old buddy Mike would just get himself worked up again 🙂

But it was indeed a busy year! And one with lots of fodder for my keyboard.

Happy 2011 everyone! I hope to keep you entertained again over the next 12 months and wish all health, happiness and wisdom!

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Friday the 13th miscellany…

The Cons ran a focus group to get some ideas about the best ways to divert the public attention away from all of the bone-headed moves they have made lately.

So here are the Top Five ideas they came up with.

1. Hire a cargo ship. Hire a couple hundred Tamil refugees. Put said refugees on said ship. Have said ship steam toward the western coastline, this precipitating an immigration crisis that only the CPC is capable of dealing with.

2.Turn the short form into a longer form. Thus shortening the long form that is now shorter but not really because the questions on the long form will still be asked on the long form as well as the short form… creating a medium form.

3. Invent one of those instant memory loss devices. Just like the one used in Men in Black. Then stream it into every computer and TV in the country and hope for the best.

4. Take the summer as a mulligan and ask the GG for a do-over.

5. To capitalize on the both the popularity of vampires and of hockey, have His Glorious Leader avoid sunlight for a month and coach a hockey game with a bombastic bigot Don Cherry.  DONE!.

Other stuff…

OC Transpo, OC Transpo, OC Transpo... up to your old tricks again, I see. 6:30 buses coming at 6:48… 200 m ahead of the 6:51 bus. The 7:50 #86 simply forgets to show. And two west-bound buses from the ‘burbs swoosh through Hurdman like there was a pack of wild hamsters ready to swarm any unsuspecting bus that happened to stop.

Heading to China again in the fall… tickets have been booked. But there is no word whether it will be the real or imaginary China. Or whether we will be travelling on a imaginary airplane that takes off from an imaginary airport with imaginary crew on board. I’d better call Stock to get his take on thing… always good for a laugh!

Did you know that the fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia, frigga meaning “Friday”?

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And God came unto Stockwell in a dream…

… and gave forth thy numbers that no man shall rend asunder.

A hail the holy numbers! They be neither tainted by science nor the witchery of “mathematics”. For these are Stephen’s God’s Words that we shall obey.

Verily, professional statisticians the Devil says that sins against persons and thine property are not as commonplace as in bygone years. But this is blasphemy! The surveys and other devices of Michael Ignatieff Satan are the works of sinners and thieves and not Divine as are the numbers which I have before me. Numbers that are free of coercion and free of intrusion. For they are Holy and have no need of titles like “accurate”, “methodologically sound”, or of other words of professional statisticians the Devil.

And where be these Words of Stephen God? Damn you all for asking me to reveal them! Verily, they are not really aren’t before me at all! Nor am I, as a servant of Stephen God, privy to such Holy Matters. But is it so that because I do not see them, that I do not trust they exist?

That is blasphemous talk and ye shall be stoned or imprisoned for this sin. Or mayhaps be housed in one of new prisons that shall be built to punish doubters like the left-wing press those possessed by the Serpent.

Because, my sons and daughters, ye must trust the Word of Stock as you trust the Word of Stephen God. So trust my holy word on this matter and know that there have been more sins committed against thine person and thine property than in the past. Know this and go forth and spread the Gospel. For it is Right and True.

Amen and Praise the Stephen!

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Stockwell Day: And God came unto me in a dream..

… and gave forth thy numbers that no man shall rend asunder.

A hail the holy numbers! They be neither tainted by science nor the witchery of “mathematics”. For these are Stephen’s God’s Words that we shall obey.

Verily, professional statisticians the Devil says that sins against persons and thine property are not as commonplace as in bygone years. But this is blasphemy! The surveys and other devices of Michael Ignatieff Satan are the works of sinners and thieves and not Divine as are the numbers which I have before me. Numbers that are free of coercion and free of intrusion. For they are Holy and have no need of titles like “accurate”, “methodologically sound”, or of other words of professional statisticians the Devil.

And where be these Words of Stephen God? Damn you all for asking me to reveal them! Verily, they are not really aren’t before me at all! Nor am I, as a servant of Stephen God, privy to such Holy Matters. But is it so that because I do not see them, that I do not trust they exist?

That is blasphemous talk and ye shall be stoned or imprisoned for this sin. Or mayhaps be housed in one of new prisons that shall be built to punish doubters like the left-wing press those possessed by the Serpent.

Because, my sons and daughters, ye must trust the Word of Stock as you trust the Word of Stephen God. So trust my holy word on this matter and know that there have been more sins committed against thine person and thine property than in the past. Know this and go forth and spread the Gospel. For it is Right and True.

Amen and Praise the Stephen!

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Public service efficiency

The Harperites, under the guidance of the dry-suit guy, is gong to “unveil” (1) a plan to increase “the efficiency of the federal departments”.

Mr. Day is scheduled today to unveil a government initiative aimed at increasing the efficiency of the federal departments – which manage activities ranging from the war in Afghanistan and relief in Haiti, to income-tax collection, employment insurance and old-age security claims.

Huh, I didn’t realise we were inefficient? Haven’t all of the efficiency programs that we have been subjected to almost each and every year counted for anything or resulted in these cherished “efficiencies”?

Are we still that inefficient? After Blue Ribbon Panels? Streamlining? Corporate Business Architecture?

Man, we in the PS MUST be sooooooo incompetent! You’d think that we would by now be the smoothest and most efficient public service in the freakin’ GALAXY!

And so iut begins – Day has announced the first round of cuts by reducing the number of Governor in Council appointments by 245.

It is interesting to see where these cuts have been made.

Yes, they are patronage appointments and yes, many of these seats were already vacant, but I think this spells out the shape of things to come..

                                                            March 8, 2010

                 Reduction of Governor in Council Positions

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Current
                                                          number         GiC
    Department/                                           of GiC   positions
    Agency              Organization                   positions     reduced
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Agriculture and     Canadian Grain Commission              9           6
     Agri-Food Canada   -----------------------------------------------------
                        National Farm Products Council         9           2
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Canadian Heritage   Canadian Council on the Status
                         of the Artist                        12          12
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canadian Radio-television and
                         Telecommunications Commission        19           6
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Citizenship and     Canadian Race Relations Foundation
     Immigration Canada  and Investment Committee             24          11
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Environment Canada  Historic Sites and Monuments
                         Board of Canada                      15           2
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        National Round Table on the
                         Environment and the Economy          26           8
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Department of       Canada Development Investment
     Finance Canada      Corporation                          20           9
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canadian International Trade
                         Tribunal                              9           2
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Fisheries and       Freshwater Fish Marketing
     Oceans Canada       Corporation - Advisory Committee     15          15
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Foreign Affairs     Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada      7           2
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        International Boundary Commission      1           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        International Development Research
                         Centre                               21           3
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Roosevelt Campobello International
                         Park Commission                       3           1
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Health Canada       Assisted Human Reproduction Agency
                         of Canada                            13           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse     7           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canadian Institutes of Health
                         Research                             19           2
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Human Resources     Canada Employment Insurance
     and Skills          Commission                            4           2
     Development Canada -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canada Mortgage and Housing
                         Corporation                          13           3
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canada Pension Plan/Old Age
                         Security: Review Tribunals          400          40
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canada Pension Plan: Pensions
                         Appeals Board                        12           2
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Indian and          First Nations Financial
     Northern Affairs    Management Board                     12           2
     Canada             -----------------------------------------------------
                        First Nations Statistical Institute   15           2
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        National Aboriginal Economic
                         Development Board                    20           7
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Northern Flood Agreement               1           1
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Industry Canada     Business Development Bank of Canada   15           2
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canada Foundation for Innovation       7           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canadian Space Agency                  2           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Canadian Tourism Commission           25          14
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        National Research Council of Canada   22           3
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Natural Sciences and Engineering
                         Research Council                     22           3
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Social Sciences and Humanities
                         Research Council                     22           3
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Space Advisory Board                  19          19
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Standards Council of Canada           13           2
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    International Trade Export Development Canada             15           2
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section    1           1
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Labour              Canadian Centre for Occupational
                         Health and Safety                    41          18
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    National Defence    Military Police Complaints
                         Commission                            7           2
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Natural Resources   Alberta - British Columbia Boundary
     Canada              Commission                            1           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Alberta - Northwest Territories
                         Boundary Commission                   1           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        British Columbia - Yukon -
                         Northwest Territories Boundary
                         Commission                            1           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Cape Breton Development Corporation    7           7
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Energy Supplies Allocation Board       1           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Manitoba - Saskatchewan Boundary
                         Commission                            1           1
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Saskatchewan - Northwest Territories
                         Boundary Commission                   1           1
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Transport,          Intercolonial and P.E.I. Railways
     Infrastructure      Employees Provident Fund              1           1
     and Communities    -----------------------------------------------------
                        Marine Atlantic Inc.                  15           5
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Parc Downsview Park Inc.              13           4
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        Via Rail Canada Inc.                  17           4
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Treasury Board      Canada School of Public Service       15           3
     of Canada          -----------------------------------------------------
     Secretariat        Public Sector Pension Investment
                         Board                                12           1
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

1) I always thought “unveiling” was a term better used for art shows, new models of cars or a line of clothing… but this?

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Harperites ain’t so “handsome”

And so it begins.

PS union leaders are meeting with the President of the Treasury Board, Stockwell “cavemen fought dinosaurs” Day to talk about what they should expect in the next budget, due to be released on March 4th. And federal public servants are justifiably afraid of what the budget may have in store for the PS pension plan – already described by Jimbo Flahtery as “handsome”.

I’ve gone on and on about the PS pension plan, as have others. And if you are in the PS, you pretty much like the status quo, but if you are not, you pretty much think that the pesnions are already way too generous for a buncha lazy good-for-nothing bureaucrats.

So I’m not going to rant on and on about this yet again, except to say this:

Mr. Day, changing the rules of the game is OK if those new rules apply to new employees. They can make the decision whether or not to pursue as a vocation, a career in the PS. The rules of the game are up front and transparent.

But if you dare to change the rules for those of us who have worked hard under the assumption that what we signed on for would still be in place when we retire, then, Mr. Day, you will be in for a fight.  Mark my words.

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PS pensions and Doris Day

PS pensions. What will Day want to do?

There is much angst at the moment among Public Servants with regard to what the future holds for their jobs, salaries and pensions. And I think that this concern has some merit given the track record of the new Treasury Board President as a spender rather than a cutter in his old job as the Alberta Treasurer. He may want to prove to his right-wing supporters that he is not afraid to take the axe to spending.

This is what he said during Saturday’s CBC interview:

Q Will public service pension schemes need to be addressed?

A We will look at everything. I am looking for an overall co-operative approach and you will see the details begin to unfold.

I take this to mean that pensions are indeed on the table as well as PS wage controls beyond 2011. Salary increases of 1.5% in each of the three years of the current collective agreement will expire on June 15 th, 2011.

So let’s put aside wages for a moment with the acknowledgement that – given the history of either the Grits or the ReformCons (doesn’t really matter who’s in power, in this case) – any medium term restraint plan will once again include impose salary increase limits.

So – to pensions.

When I signed on to this job about 13 years ago, it was with the knowledge that I would be paid at a lower rate than I would have been – all else being equal – in a similar position in the private sector. I was willing to accept this because the PS pension benefits are really a part of my salary – a deferred salary. I do pay one-third of the total contribution to my pension benefits and the government pitches in the rest. Should that ration change? Maybe. But slowly and it should certainly not be without extensive discussions with the PS Unions. This is what I signed on for and the pension is what was promised to me… and I expect the government of the day to live up to their promise.

But – you say – the private sector employees are being robbed of their pension benefits by their former employers, why should the PS suffer the same pain? This is the argument of many right-wing think-tanks and analysts but is one that is from a profit-driven perspective. Any change to the rules that benefits the bottom line is a good move according to the CFIB, C.D. Howe Institute or the National Citizen’s Coalition (the group that Stevo used to lead).

But why do we have to dumb down the public sector to the level of the private sector? What can’t the private sector pension rules be every bit as generous those in the public sector? THAT is what the employees of big business should be asking their employers.

But what if the rules were changed, not retroactively, but only for new recruits?

Then that is a different case. The new employees are coming on board knowing at the time of their acceptance of the position their own pension provisions, rates of pay, etc. In much the same way that we in the PS know that if we do want to climb the corporate ladder, we will need to achieve some degree of competence in French (if an Anglo) and English (if a Francophone). The rules of the game are up front for all to see.

Yes, imposing less “generous” pension rules of the game would create two distinct classes of PS employees – one under the old provisions and one under the new and more restrictive provisions. This, in the long-run wouldn’t be a good thing. But it may be necessary.

So to sum up:

  1. I am assuming a pension – based more or less on the rules of the road when I signed on – to be there when I choose to retire (which BTW won’t be until I’m at least 61).
  2. I am willing to make a larger contribution (I currently contribute about $7,000 per year) of my deferred salary to the fund to ensure that it is adequately funded and to take a little pressure of the public purse…. as long as the changes are made progressively and with the cooperation of the labour groups.
  3. WRT to the above – the politicans MUST apply these changes to their own pension plans as well.
  4. I am NOT willing to accept large cuts to my benefits nor to changes to the years of service or ages at which one can claim a pension (even though I personally cannot benefit from early retirement).
  5. I am willing to accept that new Public Servants may have to have a plan that is quite different from my own
  6. And I strongly suggest that the private sector and all of those chattering, right-wing business interest groups look at something other than RoI once in a while and invest in long-term commitments to their most valuable resopurces – their people.

One final note. I know that very, very few outside of the National Capital Region give two shakes about the Public Service. Mnay native Ottawans don’t realise this having grown up in a Government town. But as an “import”, I can say with a high degree of confidence that tTo the bulk of the populace, we are painted with the same brush as the politicians and would not shed a tear upon hearing of cuts to the PS pension plan. The Harperites know this and may well be willing to enact radical changes knowing that while they may lose a few seats in the NCR, the impact would be neutral or even positive elsewhere.

And THAT is waht frightens me.

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Oh, isn’t that WONDERFUL….

…Doris Day is the new TB Prez. Didn’t see THAT comin’!

Mark my words. If the ReformCons are still in power a year from now, Public Servants everywhere will spit at the mention of his name. Not that the Harperites – or most Canadians outside of the National Capital Region– give a flying crap about the PS.

My gut tells me though that this is not a pre-election Cabinet. Moving Rona to PWGSC is a big move up for her, but I would think that the brainless trust in the PMO would want her in a more visible spot if we were in pre-election mode… gotta court the soccer Moms, right?

I also don’t feel that Vic Toews (admittedly, one of the less incompetent of the Harperites) is the right pre-writ “fit” with NRCan. Though they can’t do much worse than Ms. Raitt.

So. To summarise. Same gang. Different titles.

Yawn. Wake me up when we have an election…

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