Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Urban League Of London

I am so goddamned tired of hearing about the Urban League Of London as constantly reported on by the London Free Press. Why does the Free Press cite these people so often? And let us not forget Gloria McGinn-McTeer, who was the former chairperson of this apparent non-profit organization; she seems to be a pet favorite of the Free Press.

This time we hear about this group of lobbyists in connection with the Ridout development dispute.

In a letter to planning committee chair Coun. Joni Baechler, league president George Sinclair said the buildings form an "attractive and historical city block."

"It is working at cross-purposes to encourage people to live downtown and, at the same time, tell those who are already living there that they must leave," Sinclair wrote. "Surely London can encourage new development and also preserve our historically significant housing stock."

The letter was sent in support of the London Advisory Committee on Heritage (LACH), which wants the three buildings at 500, 496-494 and 492 Ridout, designated as historically significant.

At a recent planning committee meeting, LACH asked to be included in any discussions between the city and the developer on the properties' future.

All this fuss, and the area in question is only a Heritage 2 designation!

What business do these people have butting into development affairs at all? Apparently there are plenty of people who would be interested in living in such a development, otherwise Auburn developments wouldn't bother spending the money.

Why must developers ask permission from the city to build in the first place? Such stupid laws lead to further court battles, like the one over Hyde Park expansion. And it also leads to stupid comments.......
Ward 5 councillor Sandy White voted against approving the proposals from First North London and Stanton Brothers.

“I’m not opposed to development, I want to be clear about that,” said White.

But the councillor said she is concerned about urban sprawl, and wants to make sure small business owners are protected.

“People say let the market dictate, but I’m not one to go with that,” she said. “The market goes in cycles and if we push it too far we reap what we sow.”

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Smokers of the world unite!

Manitobans smoke it up

By MICHELLE MACAFEE

WINNIPEG (CP) - When Leslie Dumas decided to defy Manitoba's smoking law after it went into effect a month ago, the restaurant owner made no attempt to hide her plans.

She and partner Finley Michaud posted a large sign outside their door that warned: Attention. Smoking Establishment: Enter at Your Own Risk.

Still, the transparency has brought public health inspectors, two warnings and the expectation that a fine of up to $3,000 will land on her counter any day.

Dumas' reply: Bring it on!

She says she has no plans to throw out her ashtrays.

Some customers are driving as far as an hour out of their way to enjoy a butt with their meal at her family-run restaurant. Supporters have pledged to hold fundraisers to cover any fines she does get, a lawyer has stepped up with an offer to launch a court challenge, and she's getting calls from what she calls a growing list of scofflaws.

"The government is like a dictatorship," Dumas said after the busy lunch-hour rush at Finley's Restaurant in Selkirk, just north of Winnipeg.

"We're being told how to run our restaurant. I should have the choice. They've taken away all our rights."

Provincial officials insist fines are the next step in converting what they say are only a handful of businesses flouting the new law, which was implemented Oct. 1 to protect workers from second-hand smoke.

But critics say this long, unofficial grace period has created an uneven playing field among businesses.

Jim Baker of the Manitoba Hotel Association says some of his members, who expect to lose millions because of the ban, are being pressured by customers to ignore the law.

"What's happening is our members, who by the large majority are complying, are . . . having their customers say, 'I know you're not permitting smoking here but I hear if I drive 26 miles down the road people are smoking,' " said Baker.

If the government doesn't start enforcing the law, more establishments will be tempted to allow smoking, he added.

Opposition Conservative Leader Stuart Murray said the delay in issuing fines raises doubt the government is prepared to defend the law in court.

But the man who helped draft the province's sweeping law says the government is not being soft on violators.

James Drew, manager of Manitoba Health's environmental health unit, said there's nothing out of the ordinary about the government trying to educate the public first, then moving to official warnings before finally turning to financial penalties as a last resort.

"We're quite pleased with the progress," said Drew.

As of late last week, 28 complaints had been filed and about 17 written warnings had been issued.

Drew said he knew of only four restaurants and bars that were deliberately thumbing their noses at the law.

"We expected there would be a few individuals who would resist and we expected there would be some complaints," said Drew. "As the process unfolds, then those who resist and are in non-compliance I guess will face the legal consequences."

In New Brunswick, where a similar smoking ban went into effect Oct. 1, there has been little sign of the high-profile rebellion seen in Manitoba.

A Moncton hospital is expected to close the staff smoking room that was kept open after the ban.

Some aboriginal bands are defying the law, choosing not to ask the federal government for an exemption on their reserves as they are entitled to do.

Manitoba's law does not apply to reserves.

Spokeswoman Krista Petersen said the New Brunswick government had fielded about 20 complaints as of late last week, but said no summons had been issued.

Manitoba's Healthy Living Minister Theresa Oswald said her office has received many more calls from supporters of the ban than opponents.

"There are people who are complying for whom it is not easy, but they are placing the health of Manitobans as the higher issue here," said Oswald, who took over the cabinet portfolio after the ban took effect.

She said her government will fight to uphold the law in court if necessary.



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We have no volition

Blame it on MacDonalds.......

"You can't avoid it," says 31-year-old Melisa Diamantini of Ottawa. "There's a McDonald's and Starbucks every two feet and the signs and ads are everywhere. It's a constant. There are subliminal messages in your head all the time.

"If you're addicted to liquor, you can avoid it. It's not always in your face, but food is."

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Friday, October 29, 2004

Vote for Don Cherry!

Tommy Douglas's legacy as a social policy innovator lives on. Social welfare, universal Medicare, old age pensions and mothers' allowances -- Douglas helped keep these ideas, and many more, watching as more established political parties eventually came to accept these once-radical ideas as their own.

Help knock this fount of terrible ideas out of the lead. Vote for Don Cherry!

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Your standard gangland monopoly

From today's Free Press:

A parents' group in London who fought cuts to pediatric services in 2001 are readying themselves for another battle. Two leaders of the Southwestern Ontario Pediatric Parents Organization say they'll fight back if London Health Sciences Centre, facing a mammoth deficit, tries to cut any pediatric services.

From Ayn Rand's Global Balkanization:

A ‘mixed economy’ disintegrates a country into an institutionalized civil war of pressure groups, each fighting for legislative favors and special privileges at the expense of one another.


Usually when I think of these pressure groups I think of obnoxious ones like unions and anti-smokers. But innocent people are also brought into this process as they fight for treatment in an unworkable system they're forced into.

If they get what they want, someone ELSE suffers and dies. Like that Twilight Zone episode where the woman gets the magic box that grants a wish if you push its button -- but pushing the button will kill someone she doesn't know. That's your public health care.

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Is it the colour of my skin?

Trudeaupia posts on official racism.

I remember going to a student employment centre about 10 years ago and seeing many ads that were for natives only. I went up and applied for one anyways, being about as visibly white as a person can get without crossing into translucency and wondering what would happen.

When I was turned down, I asked, "Is it the colour of my skin? What difference does that make?" I didn't get an answer to the question, though I recall things getting socially uncomfortable.

As an individualist, I believe that individuals can only be judged justly as individuals, and the root evil of racism is denying that. It's a really simple and obvious concept. I don't see where it can get so lost along the concptual way that you end up flipping past racist government ads on the job boards while human rights troikas ruin people for nothing.

I hate giving up more than half of my income for less than nothing, but the gargantuan hypocrisy of official racist hiring practices makes me angrier right now, in a way, especially coming from these people.

See how a clear evil with a clear name has changed into a meaningless rhetorical club.

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New South Park season began!

Canadians should do what it takes to get around the CRTC and see the new South Park, wherein the town experiments with Australian/PuffDaddy-style democracy.

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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Let it burn

Once again, London hires bureaucrats to research the 'problem' rather than just backing off. Why not just hire more firefighters?

At least $250,000 will be earmarked in the 2005 city budget to address concerns red-flagged in a just-released report by the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office, board of control was told yesterday. The funds will be used to hire three fire prevention inspectors and one public educator in fire prevention, fire Chief John Kobarda told controllers.

But the money won't cover the much greater cost of hiring additional firefighters, he said in an interview after yesterday's board meeting.

[. . . . .]

New recommendations include:

- That the fire department approach representatives of the University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College to develop an action plan on fire-safe student housing and provide smoke alarms and fire safety information on campus.

- That a report on an action plan and database -- aimed at ensuring all apartments, rooming and boarding homes meet fire code standards -- be provided to the city within six months.

- That the fire chief provide a verbal update of progress made on a semi-annual basis to the community and protective services committee.

- That city staff offer its own resources to assist the fire chief in meeting the fire marshal's recommendations and that council receive a report on which city staffers will be assigned to aid the fire department.

Controllers also want a report on what percentage of the city is being served by the "10-in-10 model" -- 10 firefighters on the scene of a fire within 10 minutes.

"We know the vast majority of the city is covered by the 10-in-10 but we can get more details," said city manager Jeff Fielding.

Council is still awaiting a second report on the fire department, commissioned by the union representing firefighters, that is expected to make a strong pitch for more members.

Kobarda, who took on the chief's job in June, said he views the fire marshal's study as "a positive report to make ours a safer community."

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PATHETIC

Contrary to health ministry buttons, Nova Scotia does not offer 'pubic' health services
The Nova Scotia health department has recalled thousands of pins supporting the province's annual flu-shot campaign due to an unfortunate spelling error. The letter "L" was omitted from the word "public" on pins that are to be worn by health-care workers. The buttons contain the slogan "I care. I had my flu vaccination" and they refer to the "Office of Health Promotion and Pubic Health Services." Health Department spokeswoman Melissa MacKinnon told the CBC that 4,700 pins are being recalled. She said the mistake will cost the government $2,200. She said she isn't sure how many people wore the pins. The pins were redesigned for the first time in years, which led to the error, Ms. MacKinnon told the CBC. Clinics across Canada continue to be inundated with travellers from the U.S. seeking the vaccination because they are out of doses at home.

© The National Post

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The Definition of Private property faces further challenges in the commune we call Canada

Let me first say that I think this guy should have pulled his drapes. That said, why were his neighbours so intent on looking in his window and scrutinizing his activities? If you don't like what you see, then don't look, and sure as hell don't make an extra effort to look. Furthermore, these people must have had their blinds open too, because the couple suggest their neighbour was looking in at their children - and how could he see the children if the blinds were closed?

A mother watching TV with her young children about 15 metres away could see Clark through her sliding glass doors.

She moved to a darkened bedroom to get a better view. Convinced that Clark was masturbating, she called to her husband.

He described the scene as "like having a spotlight on a person on a stage. He was lit up, completely visible, quite amazingly visible," says a court summary of the case.

The couple concluded that Clark was moving from side to side to maintain his view of something. They became alarmed that he was looking at their children and moving as a tree branch blocked his view.

[. . . . .]

He was convicted of wilfully committing an indecent act in public and sentenced to four months in jail.

The high court will be asked how a "public place" as defined in the criminal code should be interpreted.

Several other offences, including disorderly conduct and displaying an indecent exhibition, could be affected.

Also at issue is the legal test for defining when an act should be considered to have been wilfully committed in public. In other words, at what point should Clark have realized that he was likely to be seen by someone outside?

What if two people are seen having sex in their own living room because they simply forgot to pull the blinds? What if a peeping tom from a nearby high rise happens to see his neighbours engaged in intercourse through their skylight? Should the police break down your door?

Most importantly, what of the notion of private space? Surely there is a difference between being in public view and being in a public space. So, it would seem that the court is ruling on the wrong thing and perhaps further jeopardizing private property rights in Canada.

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Ianism's Letter to Marylin Churley

Hats off to Ian for picking up on the hyprocrisy of certain MPPs. It's a damn good letter in my opinion, so I will reproduce it here:

Dear Ms Churley,

I understand that you are quite upset about a remark directed towards yourself
in the Legislature regarding hot flashes.

As you are likely aware, hot flashes are a phenomenon that may occur in women
upon their attaining an age, often referred to as menopause. Hot flashes do
seem to affect some women differently than others, and it appears that they
may even affect their behaviour on occasion.

As you are also aware, the typical male body has a chemical called
testosterone. You have even alluded to this yourself in the past, which
leads me to believe that indeed you are aware of testosterone and the effects
it can have on males at certain times.

The Toronto Star quoted you on December 13, 2002 as saying:

"Some people were obviously drunk last night; there's no doubt about it. It's
a combination of men, alcohol and testosterone going on here last night."

Would you please advise me as to why are requesting an apology for the hot
flash comment, yet your comment about testosterone is fair game?

I am quite puzzled, especially considering you are an obviously knowledgable
person, have some idea of semantics, and being a politician, you should have
a "thick skin" why you are so upset.

Please enlighten me.
--
Ian Scott

Nice job Ian - I hope you will publish the response, if you get one that is!

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Mass hysteria once again wins in Ontario

Ontario's Attorney-General Michael Bryant plunges forward with the province wide ban on pit bulls - protect us please Ontario government, even if it does defy logic!

From the time he first began to muse about a ban in late August, there were worrying indications that he was planning to forge ahead, regardless of the facts.

Indeed, in the Star last week, Bryant accused those who disagree with him of making a "fundamentalist argument."

[. . . .]

So who are these fundamentalists? They are a broad group — including scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control who have investigated the problem, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Canada Safety Council and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.

All argue that banning specific breeds such as pit bulls is not the best way to deal with dog bite problems. All cite evidence to back up their positions.

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, which represents veterinarians in this province, is not exactly an extremist organization.

But it couldn't get in to see the minister, or indeed anyone on his staff, before he made his decision 11 days ago.

"We wrote to him on Sept.15 and offered to meet," association executive director Doug Raven said yesterday. We followed up with a couple of calls to his staff who said, `We're working on it'."

The association finally did get a faxed reply from Bryant — on Oct.15, the day he announced his decision.

"Unfortunately my schedule does not permit me to meet with you at this time," the letter read.

To be fair, the attorney-general did talk to some opponents of the ban, including representatives from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

But he did not appear to talk to some key "fundamentalists" — including cities and jurisdictions that had once banned pit bull and either rescinded or relaxed them.

Britain, for example, banned four breeds — including the pit bull — in 1991. Unauthorized pit bulls were to be killed. Six years and countless court cases later, however, the British government relaxed the law to eliminate the compulsory euthanasia element, in effect giving threatened pit bulls a reprieve, albeit under considerable restrictions.

Cincinnati tried a pit bull ban for 13 years but eventually rescinded it in 1999, saying it was expensive and didn't work.

In Denver, a 15-year-old ban appears singularly ineffective. In spite of the prohibition, the city routinely rounds up and kills dozens of pit bulls annually — 410 last year, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

As a result, Colorado's state government this year passed a law to prevent municipalities from outlawing specific breeds such as pit bulls ("Doggy profiling" is how Governor Bill Owens described the practice).

Bryant cites the experience of Winnipeg. It's had a pit bull ban since 1990. And it is true that the number of dog bite incidents has dropped by about one-third since the ban, from an average of 344 a year in the late 1980s to an average of 236 over the past 14 years.

But what's also true is that even before the ban, pit bulls accounted for fewer than 10 per cent of recorded dog bite incidents — 28 out of 310 in 1989.

Tim Dack, chief operating officer of the city's animal services division, says dog bites have gone down in large part because the city has made an aggressive effort to license dogs, deal with strays, and educate the public.

Bryant has written that Winnipeg's experience proves pit bull owners won't turn to other dangerous dogs when the breed is banned.

That's not what Winnipeg's Dack says. He supports the ban, saying that, so far, it has led to fewer serious bites.

But he also told me that a lot of former pit bull owners appear to have turned to rottweilers and cross-rottweilers and that there has been a corresponding increase of bites from these breeds.

"We don't permit muzzled wolves on leashes in public parks," says Bryant as justification for his ban

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A small selection from tons of great stuff in today's Lileks:

Keeping the country united? Good luck. Imagine FDR running a war with a press composed of cynical snickerers who derided the president as a rich old cripple who thought the best way to defeat Tojo was a war in North Africa and preached defeat every day through the hard slog of the Pacific theater. Imagine running a war with an entertainment industry that declined to make a single movie about the conflict - why, imagine a "Casablanca" where Rick and Sam argue about whether America started it all because they didn’t support the League of Nations. Imagine a popular radio drama running through the early 40s about a smart, charismatic, oh-so-intellectual Republican president whose bourbon baritone mocked FDR’s patrician whine, a leader who took no guff from Stalin OR Hitler! Lux Soap brings you, The West Wing of the White House! Imagine Thomas Dewey’s wife in 1944 callling the WW2 a war for oil; imagine former vice presidents insisting that FDR had played on our fears after Pearl Harbor. Imagine all that.

FDR won the 1944 election 25,602,504 votes to Dewey’s 22,006,285. And this was almost two million votes less than he got in 1940. Did he fail to unify the country, if half the voters wanted someone else? Or is that just how we always are, more or less?


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Did he say "nukuler" or "idear"?

I wrote the following in response to a standard Moorish free association on a board, but decided to put it up here.

Mark my words. Kerry means more and bigger war. What is Kerry's idea for Iraq, the single most important issue by a long shot? He has enunciated none. He is a man with no principles other than pandering to sources of power. Can't you see the emptiness? It is no more an argument than "Bush is a monkey", but look at his eyes, his drawn and severe countenance. This is a troubled man.

Kerry is a shyster. I defy you to tell me his plan for the WoT, unquestionably the most important issue by a long shot.

In a time of war a man of principle is needed, yes, one who speaks clearly, but more one who thinks clearly. So Bush doesn't speak like some professional bender of the truth such as a newscaster, lawyer, or pundit you see on your TV. You could toss around hilarious media anecdotes cherry picked from the life of a constantly public man to further a ridiculous propaganda stereotype of Republicans being stupid. But that would just display your shallow judgment and incuriosity. Communication is about more than one liners.

As an example of effective communication, I am absolutely clear that Bush will continue to hunt down Islamofascist terrorists and their supporters. More importantly, and this is key, THEY are clear on that. That is communication. What can you say about the steadfastness of Kerry, a man who met with NVA and Viet Cong officials while serving in the US military? Who makes shit up like "I was in Cambodia on such and such a day -- seared, seared into my memory" when he never set foot in Cambodia? Who will not take a position other than assuring us he has a "plan"? I smell nothing but cravenness and opportunism in Kerry and his whole crew.

And if I am fighting you in a war, I want your leaders craven and opportunistic. Why epitomize them respectively with John Kerry and John Edwards?

The whole concept of deterrence seems to be lost on a scarily large number of people, and not even 15 years after they saw the Soviet empire peacefully disassemble. I'm not asking you to go all the way back to 1936 when an equally ideologically insane and motivated death cult was gearing up in Europe.

Kerry is thoroughly unclear. Unclarity gets people killed. What would Kerry do if faced with a Kenneth Bigley situation? Unclear. "How can you ask anyone to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Who knows? What is a question, really? You have to see in greys and complexities, not these logic-walls of black and white, of conceptualizing, that separate us from true understanding and hipness. Namaste.

Whoever wins the war will continue. All I'm saying is that it will be bigger, longer and, in the end, not quite so concerned about collateral damage on either side, if a crew of vacillating weasels steer for the good guys as the enemies of Western civilization gather strength. They sure would sound proper on TV, speaking in complete sentences that are completely empty and contradictory if you read them on paper. You can laugh at Bush being tongue tied, but the message is clear enough, especially compared to the void that Kerry represents.

P.S. For Canadians unconvinced and needing a socially just reason to mentally vote for Bush, consider that Kerry wants to allow reimportation of American drugs to Canada. Watch your drug prices skyrocket to the American level, and watch more hospital beds close as the government steps in to level the playing field. Less free stuff. Kerry's bad for da eternal Canadian value.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

RIP

John Peel.

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The forgotten principle

The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.

If a nation were founded on this basis, it seems to me that order would prevail among the people, in thought as well as in deed. It seems to me that such a nation would have the most simple, easy to accept, economical, limited, nonoppressive, just, and enduring government imaginable — whatever its political form might be.

Under such an administration, everyone would understand that he possessed all the privileges as well as all the responsibilities of his existence. No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack. When successful, we would not have to thank the state for our success. And, conversely, when unsuccessful, we would no more think of blaming the state for our misfortune than would the farmers blame the state because of hail or frost. The state would be felt only by the invaluable blessings of safety provided by this concept of government.

It can be further stated that, thanks to the non-intervention of the state in private affairs, our wants and their satisfactions would develop themselves in a logical manner. We would not see poor families seeking literary instruction before they have bread. We would not see cities populated at the expense of rural districts, nor rural districts at the expense of cities. We would not see the great displacements of capital, labor, and population that are caused by legislative decisions.

The sources of our existence are made uncertain and precarious by these state-created displacements. And, furthermore, these acts burden the government with increased responsibilities.

Frederic Bastiat - from The Law 1850

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LIES LIES LIES

Here's a really remarkable MSNBC discussion (WMV format) between Patrick Buchanan, John O'Neill of Swiftboat Veterans and Lawrence O'Donnell, who channels Heber Jentzsch.

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Monday, October 25, 2004

Londoners continue to pay for things they don't have access to

I'm not quite sure why it is relevant that a war veteran in particular is upset over London's greed - all property owners effected by this charge surely have reason to be upset by London's continual tax theft.

War veteran Michael Sydorko is steaming mad that city council has decided to charge storm sewer taxes on Londoners who don't even have storm sewers. "If they want to fight, I'll give 'em a fight," said Sydorko, who lives on Crumlin Road.

[. . . . ]

About 14,000 Londoners, or 15 per cent of the city's 96,000 properties, have been exempt or inadvertently overlooked on city sewer bills.

"Some people here in the city have been getting a free ride and I'm sure some will be upset, but it has to be done," said Coun. Bernie MacDonald.

"There will be no more free rides."

Sydorko and many of his neighbours are among 9,000 residents who have been exempt from paying the storm sewer rate because they don't have sewers fronting their properties.

Another 5,000 properties have sewer services, but somehow been omitted from billing. They, too, will soon see the new charges on their bills.

The policy change adds $1.1 million to city coffers.

It also adds $78 annually to water and sewer bills for the average homeowner.

Sydorko is incensed. "When is it going to stop? Our taxes are always going up, up, up. Is that all they know how to do? What are they going to pull next?"

[. . . . . ]

"It simply a matter of equity," said Coun. Roger Caranci, who chairs council's environment and transportation committee.

"That's not fair if they're not paying the storm sewer rate because they're still benefitting from the city's (treatment) system," he said.

Gloria McGinn-McTeer, past chairperson of the Urban League of London, a coalition of citizens' groups, supports the move.

"Eighty-two thousand Londoners have been paying for storm sewers for these other 14,000 property owners, so this is an attempt to make things equitable for all home owners across London," McGinn-McTeer said.

But Coun. Bill Armstrong called it "a money grab."

"Why aren't they just lowering the tax for the 82,000 property owners who are already paying it? They aren't doing that. They're just keeping the money."

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And of course, it has nothing to do with publicity

The strategy is indeed simple - vote for the Canadian that brings the most attention to the city - Mr. Curator wants to keep his job and London as always enjoys prostituting the city's acquisitions.

The strategy is simple: get out the vote to get Sir Frederick Banting elected as the greatest Canadian ever. Like a master political operative, Grant Maltman is rallying support behind the man whose discovery of insulin has saved the lives of millions of diabetics around the world.

Banting is a top-10 finalist in CBC-TV's The Greatest Canadian competition and Maltman is determined to see the one-time Londoner finish first when voting ends Nov. 28.

Maltman, curator of the Banting House National Historic Site in London, likens the competition to a hotly contested election campaign.

As in any election, getting out the vote will be key to winning, he said.

He has enlisted the city's help and is trying to get local businesses and the public onside.

[. . . . .]

- London Convention Centre is putting a "Vote Banting" message on its outdoor electronic board.

- Businesses in the Old East Village Business Improvement Area will display similar messages. Other local companies also have entered the fray.

Coincidentally, a heritage battle simultaneously occurs in Alliston over Banting's childhood home, although it is just a replica:
Society executive director Patricia Neal denies the Banting farmstead is in disrepair. She said the society has invested in a new furnace and roof repairs and a neighbour looks after maintenance.

Neal noted the original Banting farmhouse was demolished in the 1920s and another reconstructed on the same site.

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Odds and ends

Bill Maher, a former standup comedian – along with Jon Stewart and David Letterman – is now one of the most biting political satirists in the U.S.
  • Look what you bought! In depth, intellectual discussion with the great minds of the day on the state broadcaster, interviewing one of the three "most biting" political satirists (all of whom happen to be shills for the Democrats.) They largely do bite, in their dull nihilist way, but I would like to hear Mark Steyn or James Lileks, both entertaining and substantive talkers, get a similar segment on CBC.

  • C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man is always worth a read.

  • Greg Swann on why libertarians should support Bush.
    But it is only in the light of [...] two issues that it becomes obvious why libertarians must vote in this election--and vote for Bush.

    The first is the war, of course, and the war is such an immensely important issue that libertarians should rush out to vote for George W. Bush on that impetus alone.

    But there is another issue, at least equally compelling: The destruction of the republic by the left. The incidents are innumerable and astounding: Bush signs torn down, cars with Bush stickers defaced, Bush posters torn out of peoples hands, Bush campaign offices broken into, trashed, shot up, swarmed by mobs. The media have dropped all pretense of balance and are openly campaigning for Kerry, with the CBS and ABC revelations being only the worst of a vast number of dirty tricks. Reports of falsified voter registration abound, and evidence mounts that campaign polls are being manipulated. Kerry's opponents are brutally shouted down in television interviews. The left is declaring by its behavior that, if it cannot obtain power democratically, by the government of the people, it will obtain power by naked force, government of the brutes.

    ...

    The freelance leftist electoral terrorists and the dedicated incendiary Islamist terrorists are allied in this election, in this war, allied against your liberty, your autonomy, your freedom of action and thought. Each of these would-be tyrannies think they can conquer the other, once they have conquered you. But first they must conquer you. Your leader in this war for your freedom, your Cincinnatus if not your Atlas, is President Bush.
    Read the whole thing, as they say, as they say. And listen to Elizabeth Edwards call up memories of the first part of "Gimme Shelter" as she gives her thoughts on the question of post-election rioting, ha, ha. I'd also link the infamous Guardian piece of yesterday but apparently the pro-murder part is down the memory hole. Lileks takes that apart.

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  • Sunday, October 24, 2004

    Artistic Theatre Director provides economic analysis:
    "I'd like some of your money please"

    This whole idea that art is "public" and that it needs to be subsidized to drive(!) the economy is getting a lot of buzz these days in the London media. It wouldn't do at all to note that the people generating the buzz are the ones who stand to directly benefit from a policy of taxing Londoners, it wouldn't do at all -- so I'll do it. After all, they're not very subtle about it. A theatre director is all for it, so listen up City Council.

    The Creative City: Drive our economy and save our souls

    When a city becomes creative, it develops a better economy and it’s more fun to live in. That’s the buzz we’re hearing now – and I like it.

    Whether it’s the kind of creativity associated with art or a business innovation or a social movement or a way of life, creativity delivers us from the slough of drudgery and keeps us alert and alive. And that makes for what Richard Florida calls The Creative City.

    “The most successful city-regions are the ones that have a social environment that is open to creativity and diversity of all sorts,” Mr. Florida says.

    “The ability to attract creative people in arts and culture fields and to be open to diverse groups of people of different ethnic, racial and lifestyle groups provides distinct advantages to regions in generating innovations, growing and attracting high technology industries, and spurring economic growth.”

    So how would London measure up, if we look at it through the Florida lens?

    A recent study has London ranked 10th most populated city in Canada, but ninth in Talent (percentage of degree-holders) and seventh in Mosaic (diversity of population). But we limp in at 14th when it comes to Bohemian content (the percentage of paid arts-culture workers). Nothing to rhapsodize about there.

    Well hell, you say, that’s simple enough to fix. We need more Bohemians – people who make their living from the arts. The problem isn’t a shortage of artists; we have the people doing the art. We just don’t, as a city, tend to pay them for it.

    Maybe we should take a page from Mike Harris and do a spin-off of Workfare called Artfare. As long as people are creating or helping others to create, the welfare system is there for them, if they need it. That would encourage art and attract artists, and that would be for the welfare of all.

    Ultimately, though, it’s not just about who gets to make a living from art, but about the level of creativity found in the city in general. It’s about whether the average person is alert and alive and responding to the world creatively. Northrop Frye called it “the democratization of aesthetic experience,” and it’s a prerequisite for any kind of deep social change.

    In the big picture, if creativity is stifled and we get trapped into supporting mindless economic growth machines and stupid, sloganeering, fear-mongering politics, then we don’t stand much of a chance of making it through in very good shape. Good for growth in the mental health industry and the military, but bad for the whole.

    It’s all in Robertson Davies’ 1944 play Overlaid. The cranky old retired farmer listens to the opera on the radio for his art fix, and rails at his neighbours for being dullards with shriveled up souls and deteriorated minds. It must have touched a nerve, because it was Canada’s most popular play in the ’40s.

    So yes, the Creative City – I’m all for it. We’ll not only drive the economy; we’ll also save our souls.

    Copyright © 2004 The Londoner

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    Friday, October 22, 2004

    Vulture.ca


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    Thursday, October 21, 2004

    Dead Man solely responsible for adscam

    That's right - blame it on the dead guy - that way noone has to go to jail. I guess the fog editors won't be getting that dinner from Mike!

    A dead man has become the fall guy for the mismanagement of the $250-million sponsorship program, the lawyer for Pierre Tremblay said yesterday. Yves Letellier said the fact Tremblay's alcoholism was raised at the Adscam inquiry by the lawyer representing former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano shows the commission has sunk to a new low.

    Tremblay died two weeks ago and never had the opportunity to testify before the Gomery commission inquiry.

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    Individual planning vs. central planning

    One of the perils of publishing my opinion as a libertarian is that I run the risk of offending people when I make blanket comments like "I condemn urban planning." And that is my fault -- I should be a little more careful about how I write.

    I do NOT actually condemn planners or planning -- much the contrary in fact -- but I do have a problem with what is contemporarily refered to as urban planning because it has statist connotations. Whether we live in a capitalist system or a statist one, people usually plan their spatial decisions to maximize a desired outcome, and in a complex specialized society it is of great benefit to have people who are specifically trained to analyze those spatial problems and make those spatial decisions.

    However, I don't think those planners need to be hired by the government. Businesses or groups of freely associated people also benefit from doing their own planning -- and in fact they do. Spatial allocation of resources and activities is already something that they concern themselves with and hire planners for. They do this to maximize profit usually, or to minimize impacts to their surrounding environment, or a number of other reasons. These reasons are not always sound ones, but considering the fact that their own benefit is the desired outcome, they can usually be trusted to come up with the best possible solution to their spatial problems given the expertise of their planners (and if they want to maximize their benefit, they will look for the best planners). When the government is in charge of planning, many other purposes for planning may creep into the decision making process and these criteria may be of an arbitrary nature as far as the idea of "best" allocation -- these other purposes are political, such as a ward councillor who has a pet project or who wants to court the vote of activists who want to minimize the rights to property that they DON'T EVEN OWN to advance their own agenda.

    That said, I don't think that planning in London is all that terrible when it comes down to roads and sewers. It could be better, I suppose, but it seems that the problem is often one of allocating budget resources. It is not a high priority of mine to get government out of the business of making roads and sewers, but maybe it should be because I think businesses or people who need improvements to maximize their profits would find ways to make those improvements when they are needed or would face the consequences of reduced viability. And that would not cost the taxpayer, who may or may not benefit themselves from those improvements.

    This post is very much in response to a comment left about the original post in which I complained about the central planning made by government-hired urban planners -- "The reason London and environs are such a toilet is the fact that there is no planning." Individuals and businesses do not practice planning when it comes to roads and services BECAUSE they can get the taxpayers to do it for them. If that wasn't the case, don't you think that businesses in the city would do something to maximize accessibility to their sites for the customers without whom they would not make a profit?

    Why is the city in a budget crunch? I can't really imagine that it is the cost of running roads and sewers -- if that was all the city concerned itself with, I imagine we could have the most amazing road network AND lower taxes AND no deficits. But the city spends tax dollars freely on megaprojects and cultural subsidies and public expenditures. (That is why we at the London Fog so frequently wail about the John Labatt Centre.) Big projects, culture, etc., are not inherently bad themselves, but they do not need to provided by the municipal government -- in fact they should not be because central planning by the government has no means to ascertain the economic reasons for doing so but only political ones. Private businesses can feel free to take risks to provide these services if they feel they can make a profit doing so -- noone's capital is at risk but theirs if it is not a wise economic decision. But they will make a profit if they do it well AND people freely choose to avail themselves of these services -- supply and demand. If we must subsidize Orchestra London every year, then maybe most Londoners do not really support it -- and if they do, then the venture can be paid for by those people who do support it. I myself have not been to the Orchestra since I was a little kid, yet I must support it whether I like it or not. Nor have I ever been to the JLC. And we subsidize the Convention Centre every year, the Grand Theatre, the Library, the University and Fanshawe College, and many more things I am probably unaware of. These are not essential services for the entire population, and should be paid for by those people who want it.

    I must thank the commenter for making his comment. This problem is very interesting to me as I study spatial allocation problems and decision making (with GIS and remote sensing). If the city did not engage in this kind of planning, I am sure that individuals would because they want and need these services -- it might be chaotic, but there is nothing wrong with chaos because there is an underlying order of individuals making decisions to maximize their benefit -- and as an added benefit to those people who like to think about "society," these decisions are always made in the context of other people's planning in this complex urban environment.

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    Public art

    An academic gets it exactly backwards!

    Sure, that's a "dog bites man" story in the social sciences, but nowadays dogs biting people is big news, so what the hell.

    Anyways, it is completely backwards, this idea that public art brings prosperity. These things are a byproduct of wealth, of particular people or groups having enough to spare to dedicate time and space to producing the art and maintaining it. But if you do government for a living, there is no angle for you if you look at it that way. So instead, we are to be compelled to pay for ersatz mimicry of the natural fruits of prosperity.

    Matters of economic reality aside, I already get enough "public art" on the cigarette packages and anti-second-hand smoke hoax bus ads, not to mention those lobotomized and lobotomizing "Culture.ca" billboards. I don't want to have to go past overpriced metal statues of fauns gamboling around the iron rainbow of diversity on my way to work.

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    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    The Ensign has been raised!

    The newest edition of the Red Ensign Standard!
    Thanks to myrick for an excellent preamble.

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    Screw the potholes and never mind the JLC - London needs an arts centre

    Despite this year's expected budget crisis, the cattle call is on again for an arts centre. And the JLC isn't even paid for!

    In its 37 years, Centennial Hall has probably received more catcalls than any act that's appeared on its stage. Judy Bryant, a city councillor and classical music fan, calls it "embarrassing." Joe Samuels, who heads the latest effort to build a performing arts centre in London, calls it a "cow palace."

    Even Don Jones, whose company manages Centennial Hall, says it's time for this city of 350,000 to "step up" to the standard in performance arts halls set by other cities its size -- and some that are smaller.

    London's lack of a proper performing arts centre has become more glaring in light of a theory of economic development that says a city with a strong arts community also has a strong economic climate.

    I simply don't understand how anyone could support such mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. If Londoners really wanted an arts centre, then surely it would have been in some people's interests to provide these folks with what they want - namely an arts centre. And if we don't have one at this point, it is because it is a bad business decision and will end up costing all of us more than it is worth.
    "I think it's really important that when London finally really has first-rate cultural infrastructure, that it be a reflection of the greatest aspirations of the city . . . that it be something Londoners have as a real source of pride and something known from outside the city as one of those things that when you go to London, you've got to see (it)," [Orchestra London executive director Rob Gloor] says.

    Well, thanks - I really understand economics now - thanks for coming out!
    Richard Florida, until recently a Carnegie Mellon University professor of economic development, has conducted studies indicating cities that have strong arts communities also have strong business communities.

    [. . . . ]

    "I think a performing arts centre is definitely some time in London's future, but it's not imminent if the City of London is expected to be the one to build it and operate it," says London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco. "The private sector has to bring something to the table."

    And the private sector would have, oh mighty mayor, if there was any economic sense in the idea. Apparently there is not, because there isn't such a structure.

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    When the war was on

    Shit-stirrers after my own heart, the Protest Warriors have just posted "Liberty Rising", a new movie of their counter-revolutionary exploits at this year's Republican National Convention.

    OTOH, that one skinny guy is way too rude and pissed off as he spits his slogans and huge logical leaps venomously at the befuddled hippies. Those people need a defender!

    Protest Protest Warrior Warriors, ho!


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    Monday, October 18, 2004

    The theatre of it all

    Simply great John Stewart takedown of Crossfire weasels.

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    Saturday, October 16, 2004

    Wormtongue Kinsella

    I've always disapproved of Warren Kinsella whenever I've chanced upon him, for the slimy spin artist and cynic that he is. He combines a low-rent James Carville with the social justice stylings of your typical Ottawa low-rent mandarin.

    He knows as well as anyone that you can't take action against someone for saying things about your parents that you don't like. You just get people saying -- instead of just thinking -- that you are a public figure, a fair target for ridicule, an apologist for Party Adscam thieves, who sucks.

    Just ignore this goof, Ian, and say whatever you want, like the inheritor and upholder of the Common Law that you are.

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    Friday, October 15, 2004

    Owl-eyed "wonks" of tyranny

    Read the whole brilliant post -

    [ . . . ] you should know that ethics -- the study of values -- is the single most important philosophical study of our time. It is the most rife with ignorance, and this is why so much of economics is simply brain-fart rubbish. Perhaps the most glaring example is the matter of "social security". Every pocket-protected dimwit on the scene has a "plan" for dealing with it, in terms of (for only one general example) "letting" people have "privatized retirement accounts" by legislative permission, but you're not going to find one in a thousand ready to take up the political matter of asserting peoples' freedom to manage their own affairs according to their own values. That's because they are not interested to take up the ethics -- the value, to the owl-eyed "wonks" -- of tyranny. It is nearly universally agreed that a government can simply take up its hammer and beat the ants into shape, and that this is without economic consequence.

    Billy Beck at his best!!

    And for another hilarious but despairing look at the rampant stupidity that runs through our culture, check out this post - I can just see Council endorsing something like this.

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    Odds and Ends

    Reading the news today is really putting me in a bad mood - so I am not going to comment on these bits, but I will provide the links for those who want to ruin their day.

    The Police get more money than the fire department in London:

    Controller Gord Hume and former longtime city councillor Sandy Levin said they never thought the fire department's budget was treated unfairly during budget talks, but said police do a better job lobbying for their budgets.

    "The police have always done a very good job of taking statistics and packaging them in a way that benefits them at budget time. The fire department hasn't had that opportunity until now," Levin said yesterday, referring to the reports, one by the Ontario Fire Marshal's office.

    The proposed Shriners hospital deal starts to stink and Mr. Slitherman continues his slithering:
    "If anyone in the private sector was off in their estimates by close to a quarter of a billion dollars, they would be fired," added Conservative Leader John Tory.

    The Dudley George inquiry heats up:
    An aboriginal forum convened to build cultural bridges ended on an angry note yesterday when a native teacher said he doesn't forgive whites for stealing his land. Bruce Elijah, a spiritual teacher from Oneida of the Thames, said aboriginal people were systematically pushed aside by Europeans who brought smallpox, alcohol and a Bible "based on lies."

    "I'm told I need to work on forgiveness. I've got a ways to go on that one," Elijah said. "But I will never, ever forget what my people have sacrificed."

    Pit bulls are to be banned in Ontario, and a Toronto pharmacy was recently swarmed by US seniors.

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    This really pisses me off

    To quote an older fellow I exchanged a few words with the other day while shivering outside having a cigarette, smokers are treated as "second class citizens" - More draconian laws on the way.

    In the name of children and good health, the government will eventually effectively control every aspect of your adult life. I don't have children, but I am forced to give up my rights for the sake of other peoples. Read and weep - I am just too pissed off to comment right now.

    The dangers of second-hand smoke are so great there should be a ban on lighting up in cars carrying children, Ontario doctors said yesterday, bringing an immediate outcry from critics who labelled it another attack on personal freedoms. The Ontario Medical Association said children's exposure to smoke must be curtailed, arguing that their delicate respiratory systems make them especially susceptible to pulmonary disease and cancer.

    In a report released yesterday, the association said cars were up to 23 times more toxic than smokers' homes and some homes were as bad as bars.

    "I don't apologize for being pretty intense," Dr. Ted Boadway, the association's executive director of health policy, said in explaining his plea to crack down on cigarettes.

    "It is the No. 1 preventable cause of disease and damage to our population and it is something that (causes) disease and damage doctors see morning, afternoon and all night long, every day."

    The proposal immediately raised the ire of some smokers who feared such a policy would tread on individual rights and be impossible to enforce.

    "Where is the line?" Gord Smith, a 55-year-old father of three adult children, said as he took a cigarette break in downtown Toronto.

    "Is this the start of a whole series of government interventions in our private lives? We as individuals have to take responsibility."

    Aside from banning lit cigarettes from day cares and the family car, the association wants smoking restricted in foster homes and considered as a factor in child custody decisions.

    It also wants Ontario's drug benefit plan to cover nicotine replacement therapies and to make parents and caregivers more aware of the dangers second-hand smoke poses to children.

    The province is expected to reveal its anti-tobacco strategy in the next few weeks.

    I can't wait!!! We are doomed if these people have their way.

    For those of you who were not reading closely enough, note that they want to make the fact that someone smokes a factor in child custody decisions. Never mind the moral merits of the individuals involved - our freedoms are being disgustingly trodden upon by these shameful slime. Your right to determine what constitutes appropriate moral behaviour is no longer your responsibility -- it will now be dictated by the government. WELL BACK RIGHT OFF GOVERNMENT!!

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    The State of the Nation

    Here we go again.....

    Many of the biggest names in Canadian retailing have pledged not to sell or rent violent video games to children. The Retail Council of Canada announced yesterday a voluntary program under which store owners agree to deny kids access to games rated Mature or Adults Only.

    The council said it's reacting to parents' concerns.

    If parents are concerned, why don't they take responsibility for their own children and bone up on their parenting skills? Among the retailers who know what is in our best interest: The Bay, Zellers, Best Buy, Blockbuster Canada, EB Games, Future Shop, Radio Shack, Rogers Video, Toys "R" Us and Wal-Mart.

    It may be 'voluntary' for now, but not for long. As the good sheep of this province likely expect, the Ontario goverment is at the head of the pack - a bill is currently making its way through the legislature:
    "The fact is that the Ontario government will also have the ability, through fines and legal measures, to make sure that a retailer is not selling an inappropriate game to a young person."

    [. . . . ]

    "The ratings system is an unbiased, standardized way to determine whether a game is appropriate for a child," said Ron Bertram, general manager of Nintendo Canada.

    The rating for each game is determined by a panel that could include psychologists, teenagers, parents and others representing a cross-section of society.

    Panel members don't actually play the game -- they review a printed synopsis and video footage of the game provided by the manufacturer.

    And its not just video games that are under attack these days - noisy toys are also currently the focus of this fine nanny state:

    A Quebec consumer group has released a study of 40 noisy toys. The experts discovered more than half the toys make enough noise to permanently affect small kids' ears.

    [. . . . ]

    "As soon as a toy exceeds 100 decibels, even for a microsecond, it's considered banned in Canada," said Valentino Tramonti, a product safety inspector for Health Canada.

    [. . . . ]

    Adopting standards set by The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the World Health Organization, the researchers came up with a new recommended safe exposure level of 87 decibels for 30 minutes.

    [. . . . ]

    Lowering the acceptable noise threshold would only go part way to making toys safer for kids, the experts added.

    Noise level warnings, as well as volume and mute controls, should be added to the regulations covering kids playthings.

    As a result of its study, the coalition has asked Health Canada to join an advisory committee charged with improving the current legislation.

    So long to common sense in Ontario.

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    There's some bullying going on in the blog world

    And it's coming from Warren Kinsella

    A few days back, I posted that amazing photograph, below, of the little boy saluting his dad, returning home for the last time.  I thought it was very moving.  The fact that I did so offended rightist bloggers, however.  That's okay, I guess.  Those kinds of guys - and they're mostly white, angry and aroused by Mark Steyn's web site - get offended by all sorts of things.  But when one of them wrote that I was actually responsible for the death of that child's father, that wasn't okay.  I demanded that he take down his post.  He wouldn't.  I told him I would sue, and the post disappeared.  Thereafter, he posted a veritable avalanche of hate.  That was a big mistake.

    Another mouth-breather wrote about all of this outrageous, Stalinist suppression of the constitutional rights of morons, and he decided to slander my parents (my parents!) in a way that was cruel and cowardly and sick.  I demanded that be taken down, too.  He wouldn't, and now he is about to learn all about litigation, and all about how focused I can truly be."

    Enough is being said on this subject right now, so I'm not going to put in my two cents - suffice to say, the readers of the London Fog likely know how we feel about this one. Maybe one of the other Fog members wants to comment, but for now, I will just provide links to others who have something to say on this.

    The offending post from Ianism

    and the follow up.

    For a great synopsis of the situation, visit Blogs Canada

    You have my support Ian! And also the support of Mike Brock

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    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    Local bar owner responds to extortion attempt

    Bars are already paying plenty

    Regarding the letter, Bars asked to give some aid to charity (Oct. 2), where a reader suggested that bars should surrender half their profit to charities.

    After I wiped the tears from my eyes, from despair as much as from the sheer comedic notion, I decided this needed to be rebutted and set straight immediately, so such ridiculous ideas don't spread.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not that charities don't deserve our support. It's just that I'd like to pay my mortgage, and maybe put some aside for my children's education before I give the rest of my money away.

    Let's get a few things straight about the service industry. This industry pays more than wholesale prices for its beer and liquor. That's right . . . after our gallonage tax, we're paying more for a beer than you are at the beer store. What other industry in the world pays more for its wholesale product then the general public?

    Next, insurance rates have increased almost 400 per cent recently in our industry, employee deductions matched by employers at a higher rate, we have the Worker Safety Insurance Board premiums, then ridiculous hydro costs, licensing fees, our leases or mortgages and so on.

    With these operational costs, profits are difficult to come by, and only the incredibly tightly managed establishments survive.

    Oh yeah . . . and then there are the taxes. Point of information, we pay 17 per cent back to the government on every drink sold. That's right, 17 per cent on top of the rest.

    So, I suppose you have your wish, we are paying large sums of money to a charity, the biggest charity of all, the Liberal government. You're welcome. Pass a tissue?

    Mark Dencev

    Richmond Tavern owner


    Letter to the editor - London Free Press, October 14th, 2004

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    What a pathetic society we live in

    Imagine trying to make Mount Everest disability friendly. Where do you draw the line?

    Ontario's plan to become fully accessible for the disabled within 20 years is being hailed as "wonderful news" by a London advocate for the physically challenged. "It's come not a minute too soon," said Cathy Vincent-Linderoos, who gets around by wheelchair. "I'm very happy."

    Her enthusiasm yesterday was shared by Ontario Citizenship and Immigration Minister Marie Bountrogianni, who was in London to tout the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act tabled a day earlier in the legislature.

    "It's the right thing to do, frankly," Bountrogianni told The Free Press after visiting Community Living London and pupils at St. Mary's Choir school.

    "It's a human right."

    But it is also a human right to reap the rewards of your labour and to dispose of your property as you wish. Too bad the fundamental human rights collide with these fictionalized human rights. Just as it is wrong to force establishments to ban smoking, so it is surely wrong to force private businesses to renovate their premises for the sake of a small minority that seeks special privileges.
    Once the first standards are in place in three years, individual violators will face fines of $50,000 and companies $100,000 upon conviction.

    Bountrogianni said change was needed because of continuing complaints about access problems and because baby boomers are aging and one in five Ontarians will be disabled to some extent in 20 years.

    "The baby boomers will still want to travel and have fun," she said. "The baby boomers are never satisfied with the status quo. And they won't be. They still want to live."

    Fuck you - I have a healthy body and enjoy the pleasures of movement, but you people make it difficult for me to "have fun" because all of my earnings are spoken for before they even reach me. I can't even imagine travel! Don't get me wrong - we all have a right to freedom of movement as long as we don't interfere with the rights of others.

    And I don't think it's going to be very fun in this province 20 years from now if 20% of us are apparently predicted to be disabled -- time to leave!
    Emphasis will be on education of children, she said, "so we will have a generation that won't think twice about accessibility. It will be part of their everyday thinking. They won't ever complain about the price of a ramp. In fact, they'll say: 'Can you imagine before 2004, people complained about the price of a ramp. What were they thinking?'

    Please guardians of public safety - make the world accessible for all of us. Back off government!

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    Safety = Poverty in London Ontario

    First the police and now the fire department - Pull out your wallet and don't expect anything in return either!

    Alarms bells are ringing in London as two major reports point to a serious funding shortfall for fire services. City officials say the still-unreleased reports will say more city firefighters, inspectors and fire prevention efforts are needed.

    In another disturbing twist, it was also revealed yesterday the city's second-largest hospital hasn't met Ontario's fire code for more than 10 years.

    An injection of $500,000 to $700,000 is needed immediately, city manager Jeff Fielding said at a news conference.

    "I wouldn't be truthful if I said this fire department is in great shape," he said later. "We need immediate help."

    Yesterday's hastily called news conference was held to reveal details of a draft report by the Ontario Fire Marshal's office (OFM) critical of the city's fire-prevention efforts.

    Fielding emphasized the city has good fire protection and adequate response times.

    "I want to make it clear, we are a safe city, but we could be safer and we could be better," he said.

    Several improvements are underway, including a better public awareness campaign, an inspection of St. Joseph's Health Care to determine "levels of compliance" with the fire code and a partnership with the Calgary fire department for expert help.

    [. . . . ]

    "Certainly we will have to make more investments," said Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco, an outspoken supporter of emergency services.

    "If we had a master plan in place, it would have identified our needs for staff and firehalls. So to me, it's not surprising. There's no question this is going to be a very big item in our budget."

    A master plan, which the fire marshal's report also called for, evaluates the city's fire service needs and outlines how changes will be made.

    But the cost of a master plan was among the budget cuts made in recent years.

    Why don't we ask Joseph Stalin about master plans? - We don't need master plans but we do need to know how to balance the budget - and clearly these Stalinists don't know how to do that.

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    Anne-Marie Decicco to solve the doctor shortage in London - with a little help from the taxpayers

    There was a juicy little article in Wednesday's London Free Press about our fine mayor's latest proposal to deal with this crumbling little town we call London - (keep it up guys - it will crumble yet and at the rate you are going, sooner than later). Unfortunately the piece didn't make it into the online version. Well, I want to help the public stay informed about the theft and mismanagement of their money so will pick up the slack.

    Apparently, the mayor's answer to the doctor shortage in London is to hire a 'full-time recruiter' - which will of course end up costing the city tons of money in legal fees, because, considering London's track record, there will likely be controversy surrounding the hiring and subsequent behaviour of the successful candidate. But never mind that, because the proposed cost to the taxpayer for this so called recruiter is- according to the Free Press - only $120,000 a year. That's a nice salary for doing what???!!!

    Anne Marie announced her proposal before the community and protective services board on Tuesday night, claiming the doctor shortage could "become an economic development issue" - I quote from the article written by Joe Belanger.

    "Because we're not a designated underserviced area, we don't qualify for the financial incentives designated communities can offer," DeCicco said later.

    "So, we have to sell ourselves as a centre of excellence for medicine. We certainly have a great quality of life and a lot of economic opportunities, or jobs, for spouses and partners. But if we don't address this issue, then all our other efforts (in economic development) could be affected."

    'A designated community' - 'a designated underserviced area' - is not something a community would want to be, unless of course there was some tax dollars in it for them. But then, weakness is rewarded in this country. And all the municipalities are looking to eat from the public trough of course. Sell yourselves indeed - with a lot of help from unearned and stolen funds! And what is with the emphasis on 'spouses and partners' - It wouldn't be because a single person couldn't afford to live in London would it now?

    The mayor previously set up a 'task force' to deal with the shortage but I guess this task force must not be of much use, as the mayor is calling for more. But politicians always ask for more...

    "If we're serious about wanting to make an improvement, then we have to seriously consider our role in this issue as a corporation"

    And of course Tom Gosnell - "a big proponent of economic development" - is on the band wagon too! And he wants to spend even more money!

    He went so far as to suggest that the city should look at offering scholarships to medical students.

    "If this continues to be a problem, I don't think we'll have a choice but to spend more on finding doctors because professionals and companies and jobs won't come here," Gosnell said.

    These people just don't get it - we wouldn't have a doctor shortage in the first place if people could seek private care. When there is no choice, there is no incentive for people to do a good job or offer a decent service either. Competition is only allowed if you have your hands in the public pot! And you only succeed if you are downtrodden or a friend of some prominent council members.

    ?Ever notice how often Decicco repeats the same word in the same sentence?

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    A surplus of greed, dishonesty and cynicism

    Senior government sources say Ottawa's surplus -- which had been projected to come in at $1.9 billion for the fiscal year that ended March 31 -- will top $8 billion.

    An official announcement, expected today, is sure to provoke controversy and even outrage because the excess cash cannot be spent.

    Ottawa's practice is to slap all surplus dollars against its $510-billion debt. None of last year's extra billions will be available for other projects.
    I couldn't agree with Lisa more. Canadians had already started voting for extravagant social welfare policies long before I was born, and now by virtue of that irrevocable folly I am born with debt and without the freedom to dispose of the rewards of my labour as I see fit. So in the light of the fact that we have a $510 billion debt, to say that the government has a surplus seems to mock my efforts to provide for myself -- we'll have a surplus the day that we are out of debt (not in my lifetime!).

    That said, I am of two minds about the Liberals lowballing expectations about government revenue each year. First of all, it is dishonest accounting to the Canadian taxpayers to whom that $8 billion actually belongs (it would seem that Canadians need reminding of this fact). And it is a cynical political ploy to mislead those same gullible Canadians that the Liberals keep doing a better job of managing the economy each year -- "gosh, we're so good, we made more money than we ever could have expected to." But that's the idiocy of this country's electorate -- they fall for that trick every year, and the Liberals keep getting elected.

    But with that in mind, the idiocy of the country's electorate makes it almost necessary that they be lied to. If each year the Liberals gave an honest accounting and reported that they anticipated a much larger surplus than they do now, do you think that Canadians would demand that the money be used to pay down the debt? No, they would clamour for the money to be spent on further programs -- the same irresponsible practices that gave us this debt in the first place:
    The unexpected windfall could outrage: federal civil servants, who walked off the job yesterday to back wage demands; city councils seeking a greater share of gasoline taxes; and provinces clamouring to end what they call a fiscal imbalance between federal and provincial coffers.

    To this list you could certainly add the usual list of social and environmentalist activist suspects that the media loves to lend an ear to.

    Whether we like it or not, we do have a massive debt, the servicing of which costs taxpayers billions of dollars a year just in interest. Just about the only thing I could unequivocally countenance as a valid use of taxes (given my libertarian philosophy) is that we pay down and get rid of this debt -- where there is debt there is a contractual responsibility to pay off or at least acknowledge the debt and make interest payments. While I do not feel personally responsible for the debt mess, it is there like it or not, and the contractual responsibility must rest with the only people who can be held responsible -- the Canadian voters. However, Canadian voters like to ignore the fact that we have a debt, and it is a very underreported fact. In fact, most of the time that the debt is acknowledged in the media, it is from the viewpoint of the NDP or the labour unions or social activists who regard it as inhuman to service or pay off the debt when there are poor people out there. That is the height of irresponsibility -- I hope I owe an NDPer some money some day so I can use the same kind of argument! Maybe we would have more money to spend on social programs if we did not have to pay so much money in debt servicing! But I don't want to be taken seriously on that point -- I don't want to give anybody any more crooked ideas.

    As I said, the only valid use of my tax money is to pay off the debt so I don't have to pay taxes again in the future. But that is precisely the one use of tax dollars that would not happen if the Liberals gave an honest accounting of government revenue at budget time. I suspect some clever dicks in the government know this as well, and have at least some recognition of the cost of the debt and the need to pay it off. So they resort to chicanery to pay it off. And I don't really think the Conservatives would fare much better.

    In other words, in this perverse country it is necessary for the government to lie so that it can actually get down to something it is supposed to do. So if I consider the repayment of debt to be the prime moral responsibility of the government (apart from defense against external enemies), then I am almost forced to support this pulling of the wool over my eyes. It is a terrible situation to be placed in, and it leads me into a position of supporting (on this issue) the only party in this country that is cynical enough to pull off this trick, the Liberals. That makes me a hypocrite -- but then again it IS a perverse country.

    Damn the Liberals for promoting this "have your cake and eat it too" mentality and being corrupt and cynical enough to manage it. But damn the Canadian voters for buying into this mentality and making dishonesty a necessary political tool!

    Here is the article that got me into this funk in the first place…

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    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    Government 'Surplus'

    Never mind the $510 billion dollar debt! - We want more for free!! Never mind idiots like these people created the debt in the first place:

    The unexpected windfall could outrage: federal civil servants, who walked off the job yesterday to back wage demands; city councils seeking a greater share of gasoline taxes; and provinces clamouring to end what they call a fiscal imbalance between federal and provincial coffers.

    [. . . .]

    NDP finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis gave an advance peek yesterday at the protests sure to come in the Commons.

    "Every spring for seven years, this government has been telling poor kids, students, environmentalists, city mayors and so on, that the cupboard is bare. And . . . every fall, suddenly billions in surplus mysteriously appear," she said in question period. "This year is no exception."

    Being born into this country means being immediately saddled with debt. Like it or not, we are born into serfdom. Property taxes obliterate the notion of private property in this country - and so with it your choice to escape from the regime.

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    Odds and ends

    Diary of an Anti-Chomskyite has a wide-ranging piece/review/savaging of a recent work by the madman Chomsky.

    Occam's Carbuncle seems to counsel a respectful ear and tongue for Canadians who vote for Liberals. I don't follow the part about not accusing them of ignorance, since the historical evidence against socialism is plentiful, and the economic reasoning for why socialism can't possibly deliver can be grasped by a bright child. The blatant, smirking corruption of the Liberals seals the deal.

    I would say that ignorance is a charitable diagnosis given the billions of dollars yearly at stake for the doling out. Of course millions of people can be ignorant, especially when lots of short-term FREE STUFF depends on perpetuating that ignorance and devil-take-the-hindmost generation.

    (That's the "contempt"ible part. Mind you, here at the London Fog we reserve our contempt for pandering politicians and aggravating activists, not those who generally mind their own business except on voting day.)

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    Ewww

    Incipient totalitarian movements are always well advised to play on racial mistrust and envies to subvert the goodwill needed for a free society. Divide and conquer!

    For observers of the increasingly desperate Democratic Party, a loathsome must-see Flash ad from the National Jewish Democratic Council.

    Want to bet there won't be a "Part 2"?

    An' then you can slip on yo' Pradas and get yo' coffee on an' get yo' in-fro-mation on how to vote, yo, with sum vide-yos from The Media Fund's brother-targeted BreakBushOff.com.

    Usually, the painfully obvious contempt felt by the establishment left for (the particular kinds of) minorities (that they happen to take notice of) is released by projecting it onto people who openly disagree with leftist crap. In these case, though, they might as well have just put out ads reading, "YOU ARE STUPID. VOTE FOR US, WE WILL FEED YOU."

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    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    The Evils of Central Planning --
    as performed by local London clowns

    What if we had no zoning laws? Well, at the least, taxpayers would save a fortune on legal fees and Gloria McGinn-McTeer (past unelected heritage-strongarming busybody chairperson of the Urban League of London) wouldn't be interviewed by the Free Press so often.

    Better still, people might actually have a better chance at receiving the services that they want and are willing to pay for. Even better, it would prevent land developers (RioCan) from prostituting themselves for legal favours. Sorry Riocan -- you can't have it both ways. Do you want a free market where you are able to compete and build what you want, or do you want everything frozen in place? I hope you're not going to sing this song next time you see an opportunity to make some money.

    What would happen if we had no zoning bylaws? Well-trained members of society throw up their hands and say "chaos!" I smile and reply "mmm . . . chaos." Homes, offices, stores, factories and farms where people actually want them according to their free market value. Efficiency and prosperity. Property that you are free to develop or not develop as you wish, whether to increase its monetary or aesthetic value or just leave alone, whatever the interest of the one person who can actually have a say -- the owner who is not cowtied and muzzled by ridiculous and arbitrary regulations that serve noone but the current masters. Which is why RioCan doesn't want anyone else to compete with its land holdings.

    I condemn the whole notion of urban planning. It carries with it the same stench of arbitrary dictatorship and entrenchment of elites that every central government planning agenda has.

    Land battle heats up

    Council will have to hire outside experts to defend itself in an OMB hearing after ignoring staff.

    JOE BELANGER, Free Press City Hall Reporter
    A land battle that could redefine how London grows has erupted over a proposed northwest big-box complex that rivals the size of Masonville area's massive commercial block. At stake -- depending on who you talk to -- is either the survival of London's existing retail malls and plazas or the city's willingness and ability to grow.

    RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, owner and revitalizer of several of the city's older retail outlets, is challenging, through the Ontario Municipal Board, London council's go-ahead for two developers to build more than one million square feet of retail space at Fanshawe Park and Hyde Park roads.

    Critics, including RioCan, say city council will be the architect of retail "blight and decay" by rejecting its own planning principles and the advice of its planners.

    Planners feared it would hurt older retail areas still struggling to survive and wanted the projects scaled back about 25 per cent.

    They also say council's bad decision-making will cost taxpayers more money.

    But defenders insist competition "is the name of the game" in retail, even though one million square feet of store space already sits empty around the city.

    In brief, the plan is to let First London North and Stanton Brothers develop stores of a total size bigger than the entire four-corners mall and big-box retailers encircling Richmond Street and Fanshawe Park Road.

    Council is holding fast to the plan and will have to hire outside experts to defend itself in the OMB hearing because it ignored staff.

    London commercial space includes 15 million square feet already developed and five million square feet designated but not developed.

    Fully one million square feet of retail space is vacant.

    Rio Can owns 1.167 million square feet of commercial space in London. It is developing some of it, such as Oakridge Mall. Its other holdings include Adelaide Centre, Hamilton-Highbury Plaza, Highbury Shopping Plaza, London Plaza, RioCan Centre London South and Sherwood Forest Mall.

    RioCan says council's decision is "without any proper planning rationale" and will lead to "decay and blight" for older retail space.

    "Good planning requires that the city continue to support its existing retail facilities so that redevelopment and infilling will continue to be a feasible option," the appeal states.

    London's umbrella group of neighbourhood organizations is equally miffed.

    "There are lots of reasons why that development shouldn't proceed and council simply chose to ignore a solid planning recommendation," said Gloria McGinn-McTeer, past chairperson of the Urban League of London.

    "At the end of the day, I'm pleased someone is taking (council) to task for it."

    McGinn-McTeer also said some of the rezoning -- to commercial from medium density residential -- will mean fewer tax dollars. As well, air quality will suffer from the increased traffic to get to the area and the city will spend millions upgrading Fanshawe Park Road years in advance of its plans.

    But others, including the London Chamber of Commerce and the majority of council, defend the development.

    Coun. Bernie MacDonald, who recently chastised council for spending too much money on outside lawyers, defended his support of the development. He said the city has spent too many years discouraging growth.

    "This is not a one-horse town anymore. It's a growing city. Competition is the name of the game and without it you can't grow," MacDonald said.

    WHAT WAS APPROVED

    Council approves:

    - First London North to build 605,000 square feet of retail space and 75,000 square feet of office space on the southeast corner of Fanshawe Park and Hyde Park roads adjacent to the new Wal-Mart and about 323,000 square feet on the northeast corner, which includes footage for Sam's Club.

    - At the same time, council approved a rezoning for Stanton Brothers to develop a property east of Sam's Club into about 260,000 square feet of commercial space, including a Home Depot, instead of originally planned medium density housing.

    City staff recommendation (rejected):

    - Approval for about 900,000 square feet of commercial space, 100,000 less than requested, and rejection of Stanton's proposal outright.

    The appeal:

    - RioCan Real Estate says the plan harms existing retail space and challenges First London North's plan. RioCan is not appealing Stanton Brothers' plan. No date set for the appeal to be heard.

    HOW THEY VOTED

    How council members voted in June on the issue of allowing additional commercial space to be developed at Hyde Park and Fanshawe Park roads:

    In favour

    Controllers Russ Monteith, Bud Polhill and Gord Hume; Couns. Bernie MacDonald, Cheryl Miller, Paul Van Meerbergen, Rob Alder, Fred Tranquilli and Roger Caranci.

    Opposed

    Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco; Councillors Sandy White, Bill Armstrong, David Winninger, Judy Bryant, Joni Baechler and Susan Eagle.

    Conflict of interest

    Controller Tom Gosnell, consultant to First London North.

    Absent

    Couns. Ab Chahbar and Harold Usher.

    Copyright © The London Free Press 2004

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    Human rights are totally gay

    "Human rights" presumably used to mean things like freedom of speech and several property and the rule of law, but it's long since gone the way of "gay".

    To a civilized people, the freedom to call someone a fifi is as indispensible as the right to be a fifi.

    (hat tip Trudeaupia).

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    Sunday, October 10, 2004

    Better off taking the bus

    Middlesex seeks cut of ambulance fees
    MARISSA NELSON, Free Press Reporter  
    2004-10-10 04:44:34  

    Middlesex County politicians have asked the province to increase user fees for ambulances and hand over the cash to them. A person taken to hospital by ambulance in Ontario gets billed $45. Of that, $35 goes to the province and the rest goes to hospitals.

    But municipalities, which don't get any of the money, have to bankroll more than half of the cost of the service.

    In a letter he sent to Minister of Health George Smitherman, Middlesex Warden Ian Brebner called for a fee hike and for the money to be given to municipalities.

    Increasing user fees will pay for improvements to the service and help ward off calls for ambulances in non-emergency cases, he said.

    "So-called emergency calls increase every year. They've gone up 13 per cent this year alone," Brebner said.

    "I see the value in making people think twice. If you need one, you'll still call, but if you're using it as a taxi, you'll think twice."

    While the county council hasn't decided what the increase should be, it would have to be around $100 to have any effect, Brebner said.

    Ontario's $45 fee is on the low-end of the scale, Brebner said, pointing out Calgary's fee is $319, and British Columbia's is $54 for the first 40 kilometres and 50 cents a kilometre after that.

    Changing who gets user-fee revenue would help municipalities without digging into already stressed provincial coffers, he added.

    "It is our council's opinion that municipalities across Ontario should be provided with 100 per cent of the land ambulance user-fee revenue." Brebner wrote.

    Brebner said the only options without change are to increase taxes to pay for the service or let the response times slip -- neither of which are palatable.

    Brebner and London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco met Smitherman on Friday to pitch potential solutions to the ambulance problems.

    While getting all of the user fees is ideal, DeCicco said it's more realistic to expect municipalities get a cut -- which would still be a step forward.

    "There should be room for us to get a portion of the fees," she said.

    DeCicco said the minister recognized changing where user-fee money goes may be something that can implemented quickly, but not overnight.

    Copyright © The London Free Press 2004

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    Friday, October 8, 2004

    Comrade Monte Kwinter



    More on this public safety commissar ........
    This is the same guy who was trying to pass legislation requiring hospitals to report patients to the police who come in with gunshot wounds. He has been a champion against freedom for a while now.

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    110100011

    A 419 scam email gets a vivid reading at zefrank.

    For lots more 419 fun, click here!

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    No, really, I do grow my own tomatoes, and enjoy hot showers.

    Grow-ops' power could be cut

    Proposed legislation allows hydro firms to act immediately if they think pot is being grown at a home.
    COLIN PERKEL, CP 2004-10-08 01:46:16

    TORONTO -- Hydro utilities in Ontario may soon have the power to cut off electricity to suspected marijuana grow operations without any warning to the home's occupants. Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter had spoken yesterday of planned legislation this fall that would give hydro and other inspectors the power to enter homes.

    But after a cabinet meeting, Kwinter told reporters he wouldn't do that after all.

    Instead, he said, hydro companies would be able to immediately cut power if they believed electricity was being used to grow pot plants indoors.

    "Someone will be able to cut off your power without telling you about it, without notice, because we think you're doing something illegal," Kwinter said.

    Fare thee well civil liberties. What next? You will be sentenced without trial because we think you're doing something illegal.

    Suspicion could be aroused, for example, by an unusual pattern of hydro use or excessive heat coming from a home, indicative of the bright lamps used for growing marijuana indoors, he said.

    If you don't want your hydro cut off this winter you better not let your place get too warm.

    Grow-ops, which Kwinter called a "real scourge," are estimated to cost $80 million a year in electricity theft.

    Ha, ha, let me get this straight. You're going to cut off paying customers because, by snooping into their hydro usage, you think you can know who is growing pot. And in doing this you will encourage people NOT to steal the hydro. What am I missing here? I thought people stole the hydro in the first place because they didn't want it to be noticed on a legitimate bill, thereby avoiding detection. Maybe I'm just too stoned to make sense of this, but it sounds to me like they're further encouraging that "real scourge" by making it impossible for nice, honest hydro bill paying home owners to grow their pot without having their doors kicked in (or at least their hydro cut off). Therefore, they must rely on others who are willing to steal the hydro (criminals who are sometimes organized) and grow the dope unnoticed for them. I see this making soicety a better place.

    There also are serious safety issues because they pose a major fire hazard, and some of the homes have had children inside.

    New Democrat Michael Prue told Kwinter a warrant should be needed before any action is taken against a suspected grow-op.

    "We live in a country of laws, not one where somebody can arbitrarily cut off your electricity and by chance kill someone on a respirator," Prue said.

    "You just can't do that."

    Kwinter had noted it is difficult for police to get a search warrant without first knowing what is inside a home.

    As a result, he said building inspectors would get new powers to enter homes.

    But he later said inspectors have the ability to enter a home to investigate safety issues.

    The planned legislation would simply codify their ability to act on a tip from police.

    ("Ah yeah, is this the police? This is Deep Throat. There's this guy named Monte Kwinter groin' dope. Don't fooled by his cover. I think you should kick his door in, point guns at his family, and search his home for little green leafy plants. Oh, by the way, do I get $1000 bucks from crime stoppers, I really need a case of beer.")

    In March, the RCMP reported phenomenal growth in the number of illegal grow-ops in Ontario.

    Police estimated as many as 15,000 operations were active, and busts have become an almost daily occurrence.

    The problem is seen across the country.

    What problem? The police kicking in doors pointing guns at poeple? Facists telling what we can and can't put in our bodies? The seizing of private property called the "proceeds of crime" which can then funnelled back into the cops and bureaucrats who are the ones to call it a crime in the first place?

    Police have long maintained the cash generated by grow-ops goes to organized crime.

    Which came first: organized crime or the criminalization of pot?

    Kwinter also said insurance companies are going to become part of the solution by explicitly exempting grow-ops from coverage, leaving the owner of the home on the hook for any related property damage.

    Yeah, get the insurance companies in on it - no criminals in that business.

    Copyright © The London Free Press 2004


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