Friday, September 30, 2005

Svend Robinson wears expensive pants

Why was he there in the first place?

It certainly pays to claim hurt feelings these days, especially if you are a politician and a wrongdoer:

Former NDP MP Svend Robinson received a cash settlement of $10,000 from the RCMP, government accounting ledgers show.

Robinson said his calf was cut and his pants torn during a protest at the 2001 free-trade summit in Quebec City.

Public accounts published yesterday show that Robinson received the money for "pain and suffering."
And I cut my finger with the butter knife I was using! I demand compensation!

With a whine and a whimper, the NDP will be victorious!

Robinson, who was the MP for Burnaby-Douglas for 25 years, left politics last year after admitting he had stolen a $50,000 diamond ring from a B.C. auction house.

He blamed the theft on extreme stress and now does legal work with the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union.

Robinson said he is considering running for the New Democratic Party again, possibly in Vancouver Centre, the riding currently held by Liberal MP Hedy Fry.
HT: Nealenews

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The Return Of The Curse Of The Creature's Ghost

Mitchieville and Shotgun had pointers to ZombieTime. Tons of creepy fifth-hand-Soviet-line slogans, and yes, the swastika just might outnumber the inverted Elhaz.

The Mayor may have found the funniest/saddest one.

Elhaz Inverted: There may be hidden danger waiting to ensnare you. Hasty and ill-considered actions will plunge you into serious problems. There is the danger of being swallowed up by archetypal forces, which you think to shape to your will with inadequate knowledge or preparation. This can result in damage to both spiritual and physical health.
The lore is silent on the effects on zombies of parading around with such runes. Are the undead immune to demon possession?

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Non credo

Via N=1, an excerpt from Steve Landsberg's "The Armchair Economist: Economics & Everyday Life" that N=1 describes as an "excellent analysis of only state-favoured religion in Canada and the US: environmentalism."

At the graduation ceremony, titled Friends of the Earth, I was lectured by four- and five-year-olds on the importance of safe energy sources, mass transportation, and recycling. The recurring mantra was "With privilege comes responsibility" as in "With the privilege of living on this planet comes the responsibility to care for it." Of course, Thomas Jefferson thought that life on this planet was more an inalienable right than a privilege, but then he had never been to preschool.

I'd heard some of this from my daughter before and had gotten used to the idea that she needed a little deprogramming from time to time. But as I listened to the rote repetition of a political agenda from children not old enough to read, I decided it was time for a word with the teacher. She wanted to know which specific points in the catechism I found objectionable. I declined to answer. As environmentalism becomes increasingly like an intrusive state religion, we dissenters become increasingly prickly about suggestions that we suffer from some kind of aberration.

The naive environmentalism of my daughter's preschool is a force-fed potpourri of myth, superstition, and ritual that has much in common with the least reputable varieties of religious Fundamentalism. The antidote to bad religion is good science. The antidote to astrology is the scientific method, the antidote to naive creationism is evolutionary biology, and the antidote to naive environmentalism is economics...

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Anglos sales

I ran across this ad a couple of months ago and promptly curled up on the sidewalk in a fit of uncontrollable laughter, just to show my enthusiastic appreciation. Recently I came across a picture of it at AltLondon, London's own agitation forum for flavour-of-the-month reductionist progressives, whose mirthless sniff in response to the ad campaign fits in nicely with their anti-capitalist critique-accompli. The contrast with my own response occasions the question — am I "right-wing" because I don't care, or do I not care because I am "right-wing?"

The Subway restaurant chain is promoting a cordon bleu sandwich by portraying a chicken dressed in a 19th century French military uniform with the caption, "France and Chicken. Somehow it goes together."

France opposed the illegal war in Iraq demanding more time for UN weapons inspections to do their job confirming the Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD's) did not exist. In the wake of France's opposition to the ill fated Iraq war which has so far cost tens of thousands of lives, the restaurants in the United States began serving "freedom fries."

The French at one point had a colony in Canada in what is now known as the Province of Quebec which is still majority French speaking.
The author's distaste for the ad is apparent in an peripheral sense, perception abetted in part by previous experience of the standard AltLondon angle, yet obscured by the unconnected reference to the French government's position leading up to the Iraq war — which, by the way, does nothing itself to dispel any stereotype about French lily livers. The historical antecedents of France's reputation for cravenness long precede the Iraq war or Subway's propaganda efforts.
A slight acquaintance with them will suffice to show you that, under the most imposing exterior, they are the weakest and worst part of mankind.
[— Thomas Jefferson, Travelling notes for Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Shippen, June 3, 1788]
The third paragraph provides the conjecture that AltLondon's true indisposition toward the ad campaign — and I recite now from the residual public education conditioning in my head — is that Subway is perpetuating a stereotype that is, if not harmful, at least disrespectful to the French. Which brings me to the question raised above, because I simply couldn't care less whether offense is presumed by the collective consciousness known as the French, or the Anglos, Metis, Swahilis, Martians, or whatever for that matter. I have often been accused of lacking a sensitivity gene, or something similar but less polite, but I can't see how Subway, or my appreciation of their clever appropriation of the stereotype, can be responsible for a Frenchman's reduction of himself by a generalization — which, by the way, that Frenchman ought really to understand as such like the rest of us. Nor, in the unlikely event, can Subway or myself be responsible for a non-Frenchman's acting upon such a reduction upon encountering a Frenchman — although what manifestation of this particular stereotype that could be inflicted upon individuals is beyond me. Nor, I think, do Subway or I have the power to perpetuate a stereotype or belief upon independant adults. (I very much doubt the ad campaign is extended into Quebec or France, by the way, but only because the humour would not market well there.) I will acknowledge that there is something culturally objectionable about playing upon more nefarious stereotypes — for example, that blacks are stupid or that Indians are lazy — but that is because those stereotypes are reminiscent of actual harm visited upon individuals and are, as such, in bad taste — but even then, an ad campaign that takes advantage of those stereotypes is only more ugly than accountable for those harms.

I guess it amounts to a question of aesthetics, much like any possible answer to the question whether I am "right-wing" because I don't care, or I don't care because I am "right-wing." What interests me is that my aesthetics so consistently conflict with those of modern "liberals" — the Subway ad is but one example. I suppose aesthetics are subject to that same inversion that collectivists apply to every field of human action in their quest to sublimate reality into ideology — where individuals do not possess or create culture, but instead are possessed by or created by culture. The question of how culture is determined is answered by default — it is by the ones who are telling you it must be so.

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Should I care?

The London Free Press reports on London's newest political lobby group — as if we need another one.

Wafrika formed six months ago to give London's African community a united political voice and "represent African interests at large," said [Joel] Morupisi [the group's public relations officer].

[…] Morupisi hopes the group, formed with assistance from the Association for Elimination of Hate, can encourage Londoners "to integrate (Africans) and recognize some of the things about African culture that they're missing."

[…] The group is also looking to organize some big events "to give London people a chance to share our culture," said Morupisi. One such event is a Sunfest-style African Festival next year, which will showcase African crafts, music and food.
African crafts, music and food are going to encourage Londoners to integrate Africans into what? Admittedly, I haven't attended any of the official multiculturalism camps — but I don't understand how this will work precisely. Unless a language barrier bugaboo has caused a confusion between the transitive and intransitive usages of the verb integrate — and the intention is to encourage Londoners to be integrated by Africans?

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Does that free meal also come with a golf membership and chewing gum?

These days it is the exception rather than the rule when the daily news fails to contain some account of a politician or Mandarin gorging at our expense. Yesterday was no exception. For example, a very quick glance through the online version of The People's Press revealed a story about the cost of the city bistro and the cafeteria at the Dearness nursing home.

London could stop eating its losses and save money if its own staff operated the cafeterias at city hall and the city's home for the aged, staff say.

And the food could be "just as good and, hopefully, better" than that provided by a contractor, says Ross Fair, general manager of community services.

In a report to board of control today, Fair recommends the city take over dietary and laundry services at Dearness Home for a savings of $41,697 a year.

Another $28,000 could be saved at the city hall cafeteria where politicians, staff, guests and media dine on Monday meeting nights.

"It's clear we need to do better and this would get us closer to breaking even," Fair said yesterday. "The numbers are the numbers and this is where it drives us to . . . I don't think people (taxpayers) want to be subsidizing that particular service."
Mr. 'not so' Fair is correct when he says that taxpayers no longer wish to pay for the meals of overpaid politicians. So stop the funding for self congratulatory elected representatives, as you can be sure there won't be any savings to Londoners if the city takes over. City dollars are our dollars.

I will also point out there might be more funds to feed the elderly if our governors didn't gobble up all the grub. From an article back in June:
At $22 a meal, the cost at city hall towers over the $5 a resident Dearness Services receives from the province to buy breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks.

[..] Tuesday night's meal in London was typical, featuring chicken cordon bleu, vegetables in a phyllo pastry, fish served on a red pepper sauce with coconut shrimp, roasted potatoes, steamed vegetable, bread, salad and a wide assortment of drinks and deserts.

Asked after the meal if London was spending too much compared with other cities, Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco became upset, saying, "We had some vegetables and salad and turnovers . . . I'm not going to have this discussion."

Also from yesterday, David Dingwall, the president of the Royal Mint resigns after getting caught with both hands in the cookie jar:

Canada's Dingwall Quits Mint After Company Deal, Golf Report
David Dingwall, a former cabinet minister, quit as head of Canada's mint after he helped a company collect government money without registering as a lobbyist and a report questioned his billing taxpayers for membership in a private golf club.

Dingwall earned C$350,000 ($298,000) for aiding Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., an Ontario drug company, to obtain C$17.2 million in financing, the Globe and Mail reported Sept. 23. Dingwall, in addition to failing to register, broke terms of the program that awarded the 2001 grant by agreeing to a fee only if he succeeded in getting his client the money, the paper said.

[..] Dingwall, 53, also faces questions after Canadian Press reported yesterday that he claimed C$740,000 in expenses last year for himself and his top aides, including membership fees for a private golf club. He was a cabinet minister under former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who appointed him to the mint post.
According to an article from the Commie Broadcasting Centre, Dingwall's expenses included:
130,000 for travel, $14,000 for meals and $11,000 for hospitality.

The Mint also apparently paid $1,400 for Dingwall to join an Ottawa golf club, and $1,500 for his membership in the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society.
And via Reuters:
Dingwall -- who earned C$277,000 (134,000 pounds) a year in salary and allowance -- quit the day that the Journal de Montreal newspaper revealed he had charged the cost of a C$1.29 pack of chewing gum to his official expense account.

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A Society of Spartans

Assorted Moonbats

A polite bow to Raskolnikov of Dust my Broom for picking this up:

If you thought tobacco and oil were industries that pushed society around to maintain their riches, Montreal documentary filmmaker Brian McKenna has a surprise in store with his epic two-part effort, Big Sugar, airing the next two Tuesdays on CBC.

"Big Sugar loves this night," a narrator says at the opening over a montage of Halloween trick-or-treating, which apparently is a $4 billion festival for the industry. Over the centuries wars have been fought and continents conquered in the name of the sweet tooth - sugar cane cutting proving to be the number one factor behind the whole practice of slave trading. And while nicotine addiction may cause cancer, it is sugar that is behind our society's obesity epidemic, McKenna says. Like tobacco, the documentary says, the sugar industry strives to denounce that evidence and to this day maintains a powerful lobby. The film even reports that sugar lobbyists are so influential in Washington that one of them had his call put directly through to President Bill Clinton at the very moment he was, er, hosting Monica Lewinsky in the White House. We're told that the lobby even manages to keep cheaper third-world sugar out of our economy, to the detriment of not just the price of candy but almost every food product. (Tuesday, Sept. 20, CBC)

While we are on the subject of moonbats, Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax plans to ban visitors from looking at and cooing at babies:
While announcing the ban, the Calderdale Royal Hospital had said the move was aimed at protecting the privacy of babies in the Special Care Baby Unit. A notice prohibited visitors from looking and talking to other women's babies. To get its point across, the hospital also put up a doll that sported a message 'What makes you think I want to be looked at?' In addition, visitors to the hospital were also handed cards that said “I am small and precious so treat me with privacy and respect. My parents ask you to treat my personal space with consideration. I deserve to be left undisturbed and protected against unwanted public view”.

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Raising A Glass To The Greediest Generation

Courtesy the excellent Anonalogue.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Slip of the pen?


It’s not just the editorial page of the Glob & Wail or John Ibbitson’s egregious gluteus-smooching puff-piece on today’s front page; we expect nothing more from the Liberal Party's moribund collection of paid hacks. Hell, it’s not even the way the (supposedly) conservative editorial page of the Post snapped to attention and fell into line as soon as the new GG opened her mouth. It’s how people I thought had a grip on the issues at play are now falling all over themselves to worship at the shrine of the “New Canada” that Mme. Jean allegedly represents.
I thought the strangest part of Coyne's piece was the title. "Jean's siren song of freedom". That sounds like a London Fog post title.

Despite public education, one would think that the fate of those who sail towards the song of the Sirens must still be common enough lore for people who make their living writing opinion pieces and headlines.

Odd seas ahead. Fill your ears with wax, everyone.

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Paul Martin is a Liar

In Canada, lying is okay so long as you apologize and say I'm sorry once you have been caught. If you had the interest of the people in mind at the time of the lie, then that lie is not only permissible, it is a virtue. And of course, you must be a member of the Party.

Prime Minister Paul Martin apologized to the father of a slain Mountie for claiming to have had "long discussions" with him about getting tough on criminals.

Martin called Rev. Don Schiemann yesterday after being roasted in the House by the Conservatives for offending the families of four RCMP officers killed last March in Mayerthorpe, Alta., during question period Monday with his claims of the lengthy talks.

From CTV:
"The prime minister told the House in response that he had 'met the families and had long discussions.' The families told us afterwards that no such discussions took place," Harper said, demanding to know why the prime minister would "mislead the House".

Commons Speaker Peter Milliken tried to remind MPs that questions of a personal nature are out of order, but Martin was already on his feet.

"I said I was in Alberta for the memorial. I met with each of the families at that time and I met with them individually and discussed this," he responded. "I did have discussions with each family in Alberta at that time, and that's a matter of public record."

When Harper rose to ask for Martin to give the families an apology, the prime minister offered a sharp response.

"I don't think it's appropriate for the member to make political gamesmanship on such an emotional event," Martin said, insisting he would be happy to meet with any of the families.

"I would be delighted to do so today, but surely to heaven, this is not the kind of issue that the honourable member ought to play politics with."
More at Dust my Broom.

Paul Martin on David Dingwall:
Martin defended Dingwall as longtime participant in public life who helped the mint escape from red ink.

"Mr. Dingwall has dedicated most of his life to the public service. He has been a member of Parliament, he has been a cabinet minister in the Government of Canada," Martin said.

"Under his tutelage . . . the mint has now been returned to profit."
Paul Martin and consulting firms:
The Earnscliffe Strategy Group, an Ottawa consulting firm with close political ties to Prime Minister Paul Martin, has received more than $10 million in federal government money since the Liberals took power, new documents show.

And another Ottawa polling firm that has sometimes worked with Earnscliffe received more than $61 million in the same period.

Ottawa-based EKOS Research was awarded more than 1,600 contracts over the 111/2-year period, mostly for public opinion research.

[..] Most of the finance work was done by Earnscliffe senior partners David Herle, who ran Mr. Martin's 1990 leadership bid, and Elly Alboim, a former CBC producer.
And Heda Margolius Kovaly on totalitarian regimes:
It is not hard for a totalitarian regime to keep people ignorant. Once you relinquish your freedom for the sake of "understood necessity,", for Party discipline, for conformity with the regime, for the greatness and glory of the Fatherland, or for any of the substitutes that are so convincingly offered, you cede your claim to the truth. Slowly, drop by drop, your life begins to ooze away just as surely as if you had slashed your wrists; you have voluntarily condemned yourself to helplessness.

Under a Cruel Star

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Improvements in London translate to incoherent setbacks

It's all about heritage: Proud to leave Londoners in suspense until the very last moment for 150 years.

For immediate regurgitation:
The 2005-2006 Waste Reduction and Conservation Calendar, formerly known as the Garbage Calendar, will be distributed to London households by Thursday, September 29.

The new name reflects various environmental behaviour change initiatives the City of London is undertaking. These include air quality, climate change, transportation choices, urban watershed management and water conservation.

The new name is only one of several changes to this year’s calendar.
The term garbage must be officially avoided lest Londoners apply the third definition of garbage, courtesy of, to city staff,
1. Worthless or nonsensical matter; rubbish: Their advice turned out to be nothing but garbage.

2. Inferior or offensive literary or artistic material.
thus banishing them to the curbside:
“We wanted to focus on reducing the amount of garbage produced, increasing the amount of recyclable material and compost diverted from landfill while also raising public awareness about the upcoming four container limit,” says Jay Stanford, Division Manager of Environmental Programs and Customer Relations. “We have made several improvements to the template and have managed to maintain approximate production costs and delivery expenditures as last year.”

Other improvements from last year’s calendar include only one calendar per zone, an increase in calendar size and subsequent ease of use, more graphics and icons and additional environmental tips, facts and points throughout.

Requests for missed calendars will be taken after September 29, whereupon an online order form will become available at Community members will be able to access this year’s calendar online through the City of London website as of October 1, 2005.
City staff are certainly doing all they can to increase the amount of paper in London blueboxes. We wouldn't need a schedule if garbage pickup was the same day, once a week, according to zone, like it used to be. The rotating schedule that we have now does nothing to reduce landfill, as people simply hold onto their garbage for an extra day or two. The current system only serves to confuse Londoners and employs useless bureaucrats who are paid to design and deliver David Suzuki style propaganda at the public's expense.

But I can only imagine what the glossy new calendar looks like as I haven't received mine yet, athough today is the 28th of September and the current schedule is expired. I can always get it from the internet, but I must wait until the first of October to access it, even though the print version of the schedule has apparently been distributed to certain privileged neighbourhoods. But I will do my part for the environment and print mine out in black and white, thereby freeing up the colour copies for other missed households.

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A Free Lunch and more bureaucrats

Although collective cash was used to pay for this event, only the dignitaries were invited to the feed.

Via Neale News:
The Prime Minister's Office has insisted that incoming Governor General Michaëlle Jean nix plans to hold an intimate affair at Rideau Hall tonight following her installation, and instead is throwing a giant dinner party, a Rideau Hall source said.

The dinner will be in the basement ballroom of Lansdowne Park, Ottawa's football stadium.

"Everyone, including Michaëlle Jean, thinks it's ridiculous," the source said. "She has, and we have now, quietly resigned ourselves to the fact that the PMO wants to make what they think is a big deal out of this dinner."

When Adrienne Clarkson was installed as Governor General, she hosted her own dinner at Rideau Hall for 100 or so friends, family and others she wanted involved in her mandate.

That was Jean's plan until the PMO informed Rideau Hall about its dinner, with PMO officials saying they had already signed contracts to rent the venue, the source said.

"We suggested that perhaps they modify the contract and turn the dinner into a reception ... and then (Jean) and the Prime Minister could come back with a smaller group of 100 or 200 people and have what would be a nice dinner and not rubber chicken with some over-boiled vegetable and God knows what for dinner ... ," the source said. "We were told no."

The PMO said roughly 600 guests will be at tonight's affair.
On the subject of gorging at the public's expense, I am reminded of a recent post from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation blog:
Our challenge: Go through the mountains of travel, booze and meal expenses charged to taxpayers by hundreds of politicians and mandarins that are listed here.

Find the waste, look for conflicts, identify questionable expenditures. Take a moment to jot down your thoughts and email them to me.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

You can't follow council without a programme

Joe Belanger, reporter of municipal citizen clamp-down record for the London Free Press, points out the obvious when he notes that London city council is divided by predictable voting propensities.

On one side is a group of 10 council members who mostly support issues favoured by developers or business — staff or public opposition be damned. On the other is a group of nine council members who claim to be pro-growth, but not at any cost.
Belanger's persuasions are manifest — I'd be inclined, with no more nor less justification, to label the two sides as less and more interventionist, or laissez-faire and authoritarian, respectively — but the substance of the observation is essentially that Belanger has as equal a chance of seeing his compassionate-fist agenda passed as I have seeing it denied.

I was struck by the team line-up of councillors when the Free Press published a tally of the votes of the councillors for and against a ban of pesticides back in July, which I thought would make a very workable council scorecard. The London Fog editorial team was unfortunately … er… preoccupied at the time of the story, feebly accounting for the dereliction of duty. But it is a temporarily decided issue that is worth examining for Londoners, and not only because it illustrates the dependable inclinations of councillors towards or away from trespass.

According to the Joe Belanger of London Free Press on July 26, London city council rejected, for the time being at least, a bylaw banning the use of pesticides in the city and, substituting for restraint,
passed a bylaw that only encourages people not to use pesticides and promotes so-called integrated pest management.
[emphasis mine and not in the original of Joe Belanger's version of factual reporting]
At a glance, council's economy with policing resources on this issue may seem an instance of doing the right thing for the assorted right or wrong reasons. And I was amused by the bone tossed to the prohibition crowd in the form of public advocacy education, an always popular precursor to more disciplinary measures once the citizenry fails to govern itself in the prescribed fashions as well as a testament to council's inability to do nothing at all, indifferent to its competence. But it takes a bylaw to forbear already permitted usage?

Council's acceptance of their adopted role in the judgment of standardizing behaviour comes as no surprise to anyone who understands covetousness and hoarding of bright shiny things. Nor was the participation of ban proponents surprising, being the ones who stand to gain in simulated moral authority without having to go to the trouble of gaining moral probity by disseminating the merits of their ideas to any but a small parochial star chamber. It was the submission of proposals and conditions for the license to use their own property and engage in their own trade by opponents of the ban that is alarming but, well, maybe not altogether surprising itself in these days of summary deference.
"I think it was a smart move by council," Henry Valkenburg of Great Lakes Lawn Care said. "Council looked at the facts, looked at the evidence and they made the right decision."
This unbecoming praise from those whose practice of their livelihoods hung on the balance of the tempers and caprices of only eighteen councillors thereby concedes that council somehow, somewhere acquired not only the power but also the right to make a decision about everyone else's property and trade, and that a decision on the topic is like some part of a natural composition of order subject to little more than aesthetic criticism rather than an artefact requiring an examination of the premises that allowed it to come to pass in the first place.

Of course, the pesticide and lawn care industries can be forgiven for massaging instead of decrying the authority of their potential malefactors — it's the only game in town and a little flattery and maybe switching of the dice are the only known methods for tilting the odds in your favour, even if you didn't ask to sit at the table in the first place. And who are these city councillors to whose approval people's determinations for their own property must be contingent? Men and women elected in a process few of us have chosen and by a minority of citizens, many of whose criteria for selecting representation appear to rest on a talent for name recognition. Councillors are no more inherently capable than anyone else to make generalized judgments about what is intrinsically good, bad, ugly, moderate, or risky of any relationship between people and their property. In fact, they are capable only of enforcing only subjective political judgments informed, in their case, by their need to be perceived to be governing by consent and certainly not by any standards that are objectively immutable, which makes them fashions and arbitrary.

To those who see no problem with council making a decision, either yea or nay, about pesticide use, the other pillar upon which arbitrary authority rests is the acquiescence of everyone not invited to the table. I have obviously no objection to anyone who declines to use pesticides on their own property — I'm not inclined towards them myself, but if I did I'd kindly remind those squeamish of the supposed risks to stay off my property in the first place. In anticipation of the objections that pesticides constitute an objective harm even to people who observe this once fundamental principle of mutual respect, I can do no better than quote the article to cite the substitution of emotion and hearsay for objective facts:
Coun. David Winninger and others gave impassioned arguments supporting a ban. Winninger said the reason there's no scientific proof pesticides pose a health threat is because they may be tested only on animals.

He argued Dr. Graham Pollett, the city's medical office of health, along with various medical organizations support a ban on pesticides.

"We don't have all the answers, that's quite clear," Winninger said. "But that hasn't stopped other municipalities from passing bold legislation. If we really care about the people of London and our children and grandchildren, then every one of us ought to be voting against this bylaw."
If people really want a community where laws are created based on emotional dramatics where facts are inconveniently absent or unsupportive, I would suggest that they are inviting their own submission to other people's as-yet-unforeseen caprices in the future — a fate those of us who wish to remain masters of our own persons ought to resist. Unfortunately, if we cannot have councillors in London who forbear to make a decision about other people's property in the absence of any objective or non-politically-motivated facts, then I suppose we can at least restrain our strongest censure of those councillors who at least forbear to use their powers to dispose of that property.

So how do the pesticide vote scorecard and Joe Belanger's "staff or public opposition"-friendly professional pronouncement stack up?

The probationary status Belanger assigns to Sandy White is purely theatrical — an attempt to portray the progressive forces of council as underdogs. And Anne Marie DeCicco's position as nominal head of a supposedly fractious council is one she apparently feels obliges her to be only publicly equivocal. But Belanger and I will not come to blows over these minor distinctions — the pesticide scorecard works as well as his paid op-ed piece, even if it was featured in the news pages. And so what? There is really nothing to be gained for Londoners except reprieves when these proposals to control private property are adjudicated by council in the first place. Belanger's side has already won when an article like his can be published.

Belanger's side has the — dubious at least — advantage of a near monopolistic control of local newspaper reporting, where Gloria McGinn-McTeer, past chairman of the Urban League of London and unelected intriguer, resides as regular opinion adjutant at the Free Press to harangue the readership about what the public wants, as seen from the top of Mt. McGinn-McTeer:
McGinn-McTeer points to votes on three major issues she said make it clear council isn't giving taxpayers much more than lip service:
  • A 9-7 approval of a big box commercial development at the corner of Hyde Park and Fanshawe Park roads, despite staff and public concerns.
  • A 10-8 vote to ignore the majority of voters who supported a referendum asking to reduce the size of council.
  • A 10-8 rejection of a pesticide ban in favour of a public education campaign.
"In the case of pesticides and election referendum, the people clearly indicated a preference and, at the end of the day, a majority on council was still not moved," McGinn-McTeer said.
By the peopleMcGinn-McTeer means those few hundreds of Londoners — out of 340,000 — who respond to her clarion calls for McGinn-McTeer activism. All other Londoners, it would seem, are coopted into the people by default in virtue of the fact that there are no petitions circulating to leave things and people alone as they are, or to shut her up for that matter. This cozy patrician-club definition of the people reminds of the the opening of the new East London Library branch this past Saturday — local community and business leaders were invited to the ceremonies but, oddly enough, no members of the strip club next door were in attendance.

On the subject of emotion prevailing over reason in the debate about pesticides, Wolfvillewatch reports on a public meeting in Wolfville, NS, that could as eaily have happened in London, except with entertainment provided:
After a welcome the mayor invited in The Raging Grannies to warm up the crowd, so cute in their hats, so lighthearted as they decried the evils of pesticides in song. Then we sat through a "brainstorming session" to develop group norms so that we adults knew how to behave in class the meeting. Why did this feel like grade school?

This was followed by presentations to educate us on the horrors of pesticide use. We were relieved there were no slides of deformed children. Oh, yes, but they did have Gregor telling us about how they manage without pesticides in HRM and Russell, a chap from the landscapers association, for balance. He actually was quite balanced, not weighty enough to tip the scales.

By this time we were ready to choke if we heard the phrase sustainable community one more time. It is obviously flavour of the year… well, there's money in it.

After a lemonade break […] the public input session finally came. The camera didn't stay for this as we had feared but you still had to line up at the podium behind the 4 or 5 people who had been primed to speak on behalf of a by-law to ban pesticides. If you had a different view you knew you were outnumbered right off the bat. Talk about peer pressure. And one of the speakers actually said Council's decision should be made on the basis of emotion not fact so, well, how can you respond to that?

Then there was a question period where the public could ask the panelists questions from the floor. That's when we finally heard some spontaneous input from business people and residents about real concerns — both for and against a pesticide ban.

That's when questions about the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of alternatives came up, and questions about how a bylaw would be enforced, and reference to contradictory research on risk, and how some residents just felt they, oh, had wanted this for so very, very long and why has it taken so long and how they feared council wouldn't go far enough, and would stop short of a by-law, and who cared about failing landscapes when we had failing babies. And we heard the suggestion that the panel seemed one sided. One councillor who was not on the Task Force asked what views were not being heard. That's when we were told that the PMRA (Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency — characterised by one of the task force members as merely a mouthpiece for pesticide manufacturers) had been invited to be represented but declined.

So this was going really well, people were really talking things out, this was a real meeting at last, a real exchange of views but you could see the organisers getting nervous, fearing things would get out of their control and then, oops 10 o'clock and we all had to go home like good children. Bedtime.

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CBC has never sounded better!

The other day at work I found myself actually enjoying listening to the CBC. The music was great. And that's just it. No pretentiously hip guest artfags slipping on a Jay Z track and telling me it's modern Mozart/Yeates. No stupid fucking phone-in shows. No annoying prattle. Just continuous music - broken up here and there by a little news. Perhaps I merely reveal my plebian taste and superficial knowledge of classics when I admit to enjoying "Air on a G String", Pachelbel's "Canon", "Bolero" and "Greensleeves" without interruption - but, Goddamnit, I actually enjoyed the CBC for an afternoon!

And then I remembered . . . the real CBC has been locked out.

So I ask, why would we want the regular crew back?

Well, leave it to Smoking Joe Fontana to come along and spoil a good thing:

As locked-out CBC employees rallied on Parliament Hill yesterday, the federal labour minister said he'll be "locking up" negotiators in his office until the two sides reach a deal to end the dispute at the national broadcaster.

Well if being in the same room as Smoking Joe doesn't weaken your resolve to the point of dysentery . . .

"I'm locking the door. . . I intend to keep them there," Fontana said.

"Oh, the Humanity!"

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Cindy And The Stooges

Our comrades at The People's Cube scored a very brief moment of an interview with Communist dupe Cindy Sheehan this past weekend in Brooklyn.

When we asked her for an interview she was apprehensive at first. But when we said we represented a socialist Karl Marx Treatment Center, she smiled and relaxed.
Warning: Video contains gratuitous use of proto-moonbat John Lennon's "The Imaginternationale".

For those still under the mistaken impression that Sheehan and her supporters are "anti-war", please re-read your Orwell, or this refresher from Investor's Business Daily.

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Their blood will be on the hands of federal politicians

From the Canadian Press and printed in the Ottawa Citizen, missing the point and making everything worse as a consequence:

The families of four RCMP officers slain in Mayerthorpe, Alta., last spring say similar tragedies could happen again unless the federal government gets tough on crime.

The families want tougher sentences for people who run marijuana grow operations.

They're also calling on the Liberal government to abandon its plan to decriminalize simple possession of pot and they want tougher parole criteria for violent criminals to keep them off the streets.
So locking up the pot smokers is going to get rid of the crazies in Canada? Well I am sorry for the families who lost their loved ones because of the actions of a violent criminal, but I've commented before on why it is wrong to blame violent crime on marijuana growers and smokers. Criminals might grow marijuana, but the fact that they do is not the 'cause' of their behaviour. In a world where the rights of peaceful individuals were respected, a person growing marijuana would not automatically be branded as a criminal by the police. Violent offenders might drink a lot of alcohol too, and they might eat potato chips, but it is the person, and not the presence or use of a substance, who is responsible for their actions. What is completely overlooked by these families who beg for yet more government interference, is that a criminal is a criminal in virtue of something other than marijuana possession: a criminal is one who violates the peace and security of another individual. The harvesting of a seed does not in itself make one a criminal, unless, of course, there are unjust laws in existence which lock peaceful people up for possessing a plant more profitably left in the hands of the government and the black market.

If more laws are all that are needed to prevent amoral and immoral people from killing police or innocent civilians, than why, despite the existence of such programs as the Gun Registry, does gun crime still exist and in fact at an all time high in Canada?

If more government intervention is all that is required to make us safe, our society should be safer than ever before. This is not the case though, because attempting to correct and prevent one crime by committing another will only serve to keep the jails full and the guns firing. Criminals and wrongdoers will always exist but the answer is not to make false correlations and more business for the black market.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

"It's like Bangladesh, and it's right here in Canada."

Welcome to Canada where bureaucrats and union leaders reign. If you get sick here, you'll be treated to long line ups, SARS and filth:

A housekeeper at MSA General Hospital in Abbotsford says work slowdowns orchestrated by the Hospital Employees Union may be affecting the well-being of patients.

"What the union is telling you that your mom and dad are not being affected is wrong. The essential service levels are there, yes, but what are the essential service levels? You clean the toilet because there is feces and urine there, yes, but not the floor? With elderly people much of the time, it is there on the floor," said one distraught housekeeper, who called the Times to share her concerns but didn't want to be identified.

"We're just supposed to mop, but not clean. If the patient is having a bath, we clean the bath beds but not the dirty wheelchair. I can't go into work and pretend I'm not working," said the HEU member.

[..] On Sept. 12, the HEU began job action at MSA General, Mission Memorial and Eagle Ridge hospitals and at several Vancouver Coastal Health Authority sites. Eleven hundred members have been holding study sessions and withdrawing services in order to pressure employer Sodexho Canada to raise their employees' wages.

However, before any job action was taken, minimum acceptable levels had to be determined under the guidance of the Labour Relations Board and both union and employer must abide by them, said Richard Longpre, Sodexho negotiator and a former vice-chairman of the Labour Relations Board.

[..] He said it was not unusual for issues to arise once job action starts and then both parties are expected to work out the issues. If they can't resolve them, they must go back to the LRB to be worked out, Longpre said.

"I can assure you there are daily conversations between the HEU and Sodexho. A number of issues are accumulating and I suspect there will be a meeting [with the LRB] in a day or two," said Longpre.
In the meantime, the patients must put up with urine and shit, because they are allowed no alternatives.
On the point of wages, the housekeeper who called in agreed with the HEU that $10.15 an hour is not enough of a wage on which to raise a family.

"It's better for you to be on welfare, with three children, to be able to feed the family. How in God's green earth is a woman supposed to survive? It's like Bangledesh, and it's right here in Canada."
I am ashamed to reside in a country where it is more profitable to collect welfare than to make an honest day's wage.

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When Susan Eagle smiles, you can be sure the rest of us are getting poorer

In light of a few recent criticisms of the welfare state, including Mapmaster's comments on Susan Eagle and the public housing warriors, Raskolnikov's post on reductionism and generalization and Darcey's thoughts on the profitability of doing nothing, it seemed like a good opportunity to here include some reflections by physician and psychiatrist Dr. Theodore Dalrymple. In a quest to understand the evil that exists among men, Dr. Dalrymple worked with some of the most sorid members of society and visited some of the world's worst tyrannies.

Quotulatiousness links to an interview by Theodore Dalrymple published in FrontPage

I have noticed the disappearance of the word 'unhappy' from common usage, and its replacement by the word 'depressed.' While unhappiness is a state of mind that is clearly the result of the circumstances of one's life, whether self-inflicted or inflicted by circumstances beyond one's control, or a mixture of both, depression is an illness that is the doctor's responsibility to cure. This is so, however one happens to be leading one's life. And the doctor, enjoined to pass no judgement that could be interpreted as moral on his patients, has no option but to play along with this deception. The result is the gross over-prescription of medication, without any reduction in unhappiness.
Also be sure to read "The Frivolity of Evil" by Dr. Dalrymple from 2004:
Not that the government is blameless in the matter—far from it. Intellectuals propounded the idea that man should be freed from the shackles of social convention and self-control, and the government, without any demand from below, enacted laws that promoted unrestrained behavior and created a welfare system that protected people from some of its economic consequences. When the barriers to evil are brought down, it flourishes; and never again will I be tempted to believe in the fundamental goodness of man, or that evil is something exceptional or alien to human nature.

[..] A necessary, though not sufficient, condition is the welfare state, which makes it possible, and sometimes advantageous, to behave like this. Just as the IMF is the bank of last resort, encouraging commercial banks to make unwise loans to countries that they know the IMF will bail out, so the state is the parent of last resort—or, more often than not, of first resort. The state, guided by the apparently generous and humane philosophy that no child, whatever its origins, should suffer deprivation, gives assistance to any child, or rather the mother of any child, once it has come into being. In matters of public housing, it is actually advantageous for a mother to put herself at a disadvantage, to be a single mother, without support from the fathers of the children and dependent on the state for income. She is then a priority; she won't pay local taxes, rent, or utility bills.

As for the men, the state absolves them of all responsibility for their children. The state is now father to the child. The biological father is therefore free to use whatever income he has as pocket money, for entertainment and little treats. He is thereby reduced to the status of a child, though a spoiled child with the physical capabilities of a man: petulant, demanding, querulous, self-centered, and violent if he doesn't get his own way. The violence escalates and becomes a habit. A spoiled brat becomes an evil tyrant.

But if the welfare state is a necessary condition for the spread of evil, it is not sufficient. After all, the British welfare state is neither the most extensive nor the most generous in the world, and yet our rates of social pathology—public drunkenness, drug-taking, teenage pregnancy, venereal disease, hooliganism, criminality—are the highest in the world. Something more was necessary to produce this result.

Here we enter the realm of culture and ideas. For it is necessary not only to believe that it is economically feasible to behave in the irresponsible and egotistical fashion that I have described, but also to believe that it is morally permissible to do so. And this idea has been peddled by the intellectual elite in Britain for many years, more assiduously than anywhere else, to the extent that it is now taken for granted. There has been a long march not only through the institutions but through the minds of the young. When young people want to praise themselves, they describe themselves as "nonjudgmental." For them, the highest form of morality is amorality.

[..] Ultimately, the moral cowardice of the intellectual and political elites is responsible for the continuing social disaster that has overtaken Britain, a disaster whose full social and economic consequences have yet to be seen. A sharp economic downturn would expose how far the policies of successive governments, all in the direction of libertinism, have atomized British society, so that all social solidarity within families and communities, so protective in times of hardship, has been destroyed. The elites cannot even acknowledge what has happened, however obvious it is, for to do so would be to admit their past responsibility for it, and that would make them feel bad. Better that millions should live in wretchedness and squalor than that they should feel bad about themselves—another aspect of the frivolity of evil. Moreover, if members of the elite acknowledged the social disaster brought about by their ideological libertinism, they might feel called upon to place restraints upon their own behavior, for you cannot long demand of others what you balk at doing yourself.
Like their British counterparts, the Canadian lambs continue to flock to the ruling elite, who require fresh sacrifices to keep the system going. A typical example of the consequences of a paternal welfare state, published in The Red Star, concerns an upcoming event, called Walk, Wheel and Ride for Dignity, which promises to be "the largest anti-poverty demonstration in years." With all due respect to the central organizer of the event, Melissa Webster, also disabled, these protests are in actual fact demands for food and shelter at the expense of those who rightfully owe them nothing. I am sorry for the disabled and the poor who have difficulties making ends meet, but there is all the difference in the world between voluntary charity and forced assistance. I don't want to end up joining the ranks of the poor lining up for a public cubicle because the government insists that everyone has a right to food and shelter, but I might be forced into that breadline soon enough as I am left with less and less disposal income each year as the number of public housing complexes increase. These days it is often more profitable to do nothing at all than work. Why expend the effort when your more fortunate neighbours will be helping out?

Although Webster, herself paralyzed, has made an effort to be self-sufficient, she claims the issue is not about disabilities but instead about surviving on social assistance. It's not about earning what you receive, but 'perceived need' and government handouts:
She intends to finish her degree, get a job and support herself. But first, she wants to make sure that every other Ontarian living on welfare — with or without a disability — is treated with dignity. That means having a decent place to live, an income above the poverty line and a voice that counts.

[..] Webster knows there are numerous walks, runs and benefits for medical research in September and October. But this is different, she maintains. Much as she'd like a cure for quadriplegia, it's not her injured spinal cord that robs her of her dignity. It's trying to survive on social assistance.

"People living in poverty have always been marginalized. We're not seen or recognized as full, contributing citizens."

The marchers are calling for four reforms:

Social assistance rates that provide an adequate standard of living. Currently, an individual on Ontario Works (welfare for those without disabilities) receives $536 a month. An individual on Ontario Disability Support gets $959 a month.

Statistics Canada's low-income cutoff is $19,261 a year — or $1,605 a month — in a large urban centre.

A minimum wage of $10 per hour, which would lift a worker over the poverty line. Ontario's minimum wage is $7.45 per hour. It is scheduled to go up to $7.75 next February and $8 in February of 2007.

An end to the clawback of the National Child Benefit Supplement. The province reduces its welfare payments to parents on social assistance by approximately the same amount they receive from Ottawa in child support, leaving them no further ahead.

An increase in the supply of safe, affordable housing. Today, one out of every five tenant households in Ontario pays more than 50 per cent of its income in rent.
Will my employer be forced to raise my wage too so I can help pay for all these demands? I say we all demand a raise until we are all reduced to poverty.

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Protesting the Protesters

Richard of Cannuckistan Chronicles recently took part in some London Fog style fun this past weekend. Next time the London foggers attend one of these hate filled events, we'll have to plan ahead like Richard and make up our own signs. As there are usually ample members from the police force at these 'peace rallies', we too should remain unharmed like Richard and his brave friends. Also see Brain Terminal and Protest Warrior, for similar fun, including videos of sensible people standing up to peace loving thugs.

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The Red Ensign Standard no.28

The Last Amazon picks up the Red Ensign Standard where it left off before its summer hiatus — with the best and most entertaining posts from the bloggers who fly the Red Ensign.

Freedom meant something beyond an existential definition which is all the value we place on freedom today. Here’s the new Canada’s truism; I am less free today by law than I was in 1985. In 2005, freedom is now measured by the quantity of law and by-laws that weighs down and restricts our daily existence.

Continue reading the Red Ensign Standard no.28 here…

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Susan Eagle has your backs to jump on

When Susan Eagle jumps for joy, you can bet somebody else is paying for it. The unveiling of 14 new townhouses for low-income families in London, funded by $1.9 million coming from the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government, is the occasion of much self-important official exultation and Liberal homilies. From the London Free Press:

  • A giddy Eagle leapt in the air as she toured one of the townhouses yesterday. "This has been a long, long time coming," said Eagle. "There aren't words to describe how excited I am this is finally happening."
  • "Today really is a day that helps us bring a dream into reality," said Sister Joan Atkinson, [London Affordable Housing Foundation] chairperson.
  • Federal Housing Minister Joe Fontana said the shelter the homes will provide is the basic foundation of dignity and will help build families. "Housing is about people. It's about more than shelters," he said. "I don't know of a child who can go to school and learn well if they don't have a place they can call home."
  • The opening of the units shows that Ontario is back in the housing business, said London-North-Centre MPP Deb Matthews.
One cannot begin to imagine the Nuremberg-style rallies and harangues there will be when the rest of the 4,000 London families on the waiting list for subsidized housing are finally interred in their own social tenements. By then, of course, many of the rest of us who are bankrolling the enterprise will be supplementing the list…

From Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed, cited here:
However modest a goal, "decent" housing does not produce itself, any more than palatial housing does. Be it ever so humble, someone has to build a home, which requires work, skills, material resources, and financial risks for those whose investments underwrite the operation. To say that someone has a "right" to any kind of housing is to say others have an obligation to expend all these efforts on his behalf, without his being reciprocally obligated to compensate them for it. Rights from governmental interference […] may be free, but rights to anything mean that someone else has been yoked to your service involuntarily, with no corresponding responsibility on your part to provide for yourself, to compensate others, or even to behave decently or responsibly. Here the language of equal rights is conscripted for service in defense of differential privileges.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

"But Lisa, that's why we have government officials, so we don't have to think…"

For anyone who thinks the description of modern government as paternalistic goes too far, London city manager Jeff Fielding is here to let you know what modern government thinks of you. Speaking at the Next London social engineering forum held Saturday at Huron University College:

As a community we are going on a big journey and we all have different ideas on where to go and what the trip costs … but we have parents and that is city council.
[As reported in the London Free Press]

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Canada's Leader, Ex-Rival at Side, Solidifies Power

Three years after becoming Canada's top leader, Belinda Stronach has solidified her grip on power and intimidated critics inside and outside the Liberal Party with the help of the man once seen as her most potent rival.

Ms. Stronach, Canada's Prime Minister and Liberal Party chief, and Peter McKay, Deputy Prime Minister and the man in charge of the party's organizational affairs, have tackled the most delicate domestic and foreign policy issues as a team, governing as hard-liners with a deft political touch, former Canadian officials and scholars with leadership connections said.

Their alliance has shored up the Liberal Party as it faces enormous stresses, including simmering social unrest and an uphill struggle to curtail corruption. They have quieted talk of serious factional splits and paved the way for Ms. Stronach to impose her orthodox, repressive stamp on Canadian politics.

Ms. Stronach and Mr. McKay made back-to-back addresses at a secretive party conclave in May to promote a "smokeless war" against "neoliberal elements" in society that they contended were supported by the United States, said people who said they had been told about the speeches. They have also clamped down on nongovernmental organizations, tightened media controls and forced all of the 4 million Liberal Party members to submit self-criticisms as an act of ritualistic submission to their authority.

"With Stronach and McKay working together the leadership is very strong and hard-line," said one person with high-level connections. "I think Canada can maintain stability as long as they are together." Like others interviewed for this article, this person asked not to be identified because the authorities often punish people who speak publicly about high-level politics.

On paper, Ms. Stronach, 62, has enormous authority on her own. She was anointed the future leader by Maurice Strong in 1997. She then had a decade and a half to cultivate allies before her formal accession in 2012.

Even so, she was never a part of Mr. Martin's Beijing-linked faction that held sway over the country since the mid-1990's. She now presides over the Standing Committee, the country's top governing body, that was expanded to include nine men, at least five of whom owed their promotions mainly to Mr. Martin.

Ms. Stronach also lacks deep ties in the parliament and the government bureaucracy, having risen through the party ranks in Canada's western region. She had virtually no public persona before assuming the top titles, and since then has presented a cardboard, dogmatic face to the world, generating little enthusiasm among the Canadian people.

Mr. McKay also appears to have some clout among Westernized party officials, and Canada's class of wealthy entrepreneurs and the children of the party elite. He has taken a greater interest in Canada's ties with the United States than Ms. Stronach has. He even plays tennis with Clark T. Randt Jr., the United States ambassador to Canada.

Mr. McKay has assumed control of the party's day-to-day organizational affairs and was later made vice president and a member of the Standing Committee. That prompted speculation that Mr. McKay might someday make a bid for the top leadership posts himself and that he would seek to keep Ms. Stronach in check in the meantime.

The pressure, however, fell more on Mr. Martin, fully retired at age 89.

Mr. Martin, who had retained control over Canada's parliament after handing off his other titles to Ms. Stronach, was viewed as competing with Ms. Stronach for influence and creating a potentially dangerous rift in the power structure.

In one version of what followed, Mr. McKay suggested to Mr. Martin that he offer to resign ahead of the party's annual planning session that September. He implied that the resignation offer, which he suggested would be rejected by Mr. Martin's loyalists in the Party, could clear the air and give Mr. Martin a fresh mandate to retain his control over the parliament.

Mr. Martin did something similar two years earlier, before an important party congress, and the tactic worked.

This time it did not. Ms. Stronach, acting as vice chair of the Party commission, circulated Mr. Martin's resignation among Liberal Party brass instead of the Parliament. Many Liberal MPs wanted to see the leadership transition completed and rallied around Ms. Stronach as their new civilian leader. Mr. Martin's resignation was then presented to the people as a fait accompli.

Mr. Martin, sidelined at his retreat in the Fragrant Hills outside Ottawa, was described as furious and tearful when he realized he had been out-maneuvered.

Whether or not Mr. Martin's departure resulted from a plot, the relationship between Ms. Stronach and Mr. McKay grew closer, party insiders said.

Ms. Stronach now relies on Mr. McKay to manage crises, much as Mr. Martin once did.

It was Mr. McKay who oversaw the arrangements for the funeral of Michael Ignatieff, the party chief who became a hero to many government critics for opposing the leadership's decision to forcibly suppress the 2009 Ottawa democracy protests. Mr. Ignatieff was purged and spent years under house arrest before he died in January.

Mr. Ignatieff was given a public funeral and was buried in the elite Babaoshan cemetery in Ottawa. But Mr. McKay mobilized a huge police force and kept dissidents under house arrest during the event to prevent protests.

Perhaps the biggest area of cooperation between Ms. Stronach and Mr. McKay has been rolling back what they argued had been a dangerous trend toward Americanization in the media and civil society.

In May, Ms. Stronach and Mr. McKay convened top officials to warn that just as governments in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan had been toppled, the government in Canada could be, too. They argued that the United States had fostered social unrest in those places and had similar designs on Canada, said people who said they had been told about the speeches.

They have since forced nongovernment organizations that focus on the environment, legal aid, health and education to find government sponsors or shut down. Many groups are also under pressure to stop accepting money from the United States and other foreign countries.

The leadership has also fired editors at publications that defied orders from the CRTC, including, most recently, the bosses of the elite National Post newspaper and its associated publishing house, party insiders said. They have also tightened rules on foreign investment in Canada's television industry.

Although campaigns against Canada's increasingly diverse media happen periodically without lasting effect, several observers said the latest crackdown had been waged with an intensity that suggested that top leaders were paying more attention to the issue than they had in the past decade.

more here

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Democracy Is A Religion Of Peace

(Did you know there was a provincial "Minister of Democratic Renewal" in Ontario?)

Ontarians can expect sweeping electoral reforms when they go to the polls in 2007, but mandatory voting will not be part of the changes, says Democratic Renewal Minister Marie Bountrogianni.

...Bountrogianni said there are no immediate plans to make it against the law not to vote.

"With respect to mandatory voting, that's a bigger issue, which requires more study, and we're not prepared at this point to look at that," she said
So diversity is respected, for the moment. This time around non-believers won't be subject to electoral jihad. Still, I'm always amazed to see the weak half-measure of compulsory voting given any respect at all. Surely it does not go far enough.

If the right to vote is so important that we must be forced by the police to exercise it, surely the even more fundamental right to freedom of speech also requires enforcement. Will we not also defend the marketplace of ideas?

Free speech inspectors should be sent to every home annually, to ensure that the voice of every person is accounted for in the workings of government. Each human resource should be required to give his or her opinion on a list of the various issues and controversies of the day, and of the steps the Party is taking to move us forward. This information would then be collated by the Minister for Open Government and used to shape policy and target efforts.

For the vast majority who would not be required to attend subsequent interviews in other locations, it would be a quick thirty-minute process.

People have fought and died for the right to freedom of speech. Let us, too, fight for it, against the apathy of those who do not respect this cherished principle enough to exercise it.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

UNMan yourself!

Courtesy FR, from Citizens for Global Solutions, this... ghastly Flash video featuring UN Man.

It's as if some super-smartass ten year old raised by the Mayor wrote a script mocking the UN for social studies class, and it accidentally won some prize and ended up as a Flash video made by stoner interns at Citizens for Global Solutions.

Note that UNMan solves the problem of mean people in the world fighting by whining and then having a party.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Solution to Canada's Troubles?

Why, we need a dictator of course! We ask our loyal readers to imagine they are part of a loving union, approved and sanctioned by the Government. Leaving all crazy notions of self interest and personal responsibility in the public dumpster where they belong, which man do you feel would best secure the health of the nation?

Is Jack Layton our man?

NDP Leader Jack Layton says his party will bring in a bill this fall to ban private medicare.

A Supreme Court decision on a Quebec case earlier this year approved some forms of private health care and Layton says its time to draw the line.

His bill wouldn't ban existing private services but would stop any future expansion across the country.

It's time to ensure the survival of publicly funded medicare, he says.

Or is the man who refuses to call an election in the interests of public justice and enlightenment the people's choice?

Canada's competitive edge in the looming economic showdown with China and India must be honed soon after its toddlers leave the crib, Prime Minister Paul Martin said Tuesday.

The prime minister said his proposed national child-care plan will help Canadian tots get a head start in a global economy where only the smartest countries will thrive.

"It's about development and learning during the crucial time in life when potential is most readily nurtured and developed," Martin said in an address to senior bureaucrats.

The Spirit of Fascism

"Then none was for a party;
Then all were for the state;
Then the great man helped the poor,
And the poor man loved the great;
Then lands were fairly portioned;
Then spoils were fairly sold:
The Romans were like brothers,
In the brave days of old."

Lord Macaulay

Fascism does not prescribe any particular form of Government, yet it does not admit the existence of political parties because it has been determined that party government is government in the interests of one class or section of the nation, and moreover invariably leads to useless obstruction and the delay of necessary and urgent public business. It frequently causes the weakening of laws that are whittled down to placate opposing political groups. Thus the Fascists have resolved that only a truly national Government can hope to sweep aside the domination of vested interests and apply measures for the welfare of the majority of the people of the whole nation. In bald terms, it is a continuous union Government somewhat after the plan adopted in many countries during the world war, when party interests were sought to be forgotten for the common good. Fascism definitely considers party government as exceedingly wasteful of both time and money and not at all in the public interests, because it has been demonstrated that in so far as such administrations have been concerned in the past, each succeeding government has been deprived of the collaboration of "the opposition", who frequently squandered their talents in artificial and unprofitable criticisms of the government policies, thus wasting the time of ministers instead of turning their talents towards constructive assistance. Furthermore the necessity of finding fault on the one hand, or making plausible excuses on the other (the Fascists say) leads to the parliamentary success of men who are lawyers by profession rather than to the success of men possessed of practical ideas for the advancement of the nation's general welfare. Then, too, the Fascists point out that the inefficiency of the average political minister lies largely in the fact that he frequently takes over the administration of a department dealing with a phase of government of which his ignorance is abysmal. The Fascists declare that experience has proven that the political party system, with its general elections, is not at all a system under which national control of policies for the general benefit of the whole state can be attained as a result of serious non-partisan interests. Rather, they claim, that the general election is a periodical disturbance of the course of set policies by many and varied suggested alternatives for purely party advantages, and that parties are often carried into power by waves of allegedly popular emotions artificially stimulated by the party press, or the retention in power of men who serve their friends rather than the State, and who by virtue of subsidies from special interests who have received offices and favours, seek only the retention of power. The Fascists point out also to the influences exercised upon the public mind by the subsidized party newspapers at such general election as subversive to the interests of the nation.

[..] Employers and workers in their respective associations and trade unions nominate those men whom they think best fitted by their patriotism, character and ability to represent them. It is obvious that within the ranks of any trade or group, representataive men are better known to their comrades and colleagues than they can possibly be to the crowds that have to choose them in the hurly-burly of a popular election in some vast territorial constituency. Such men are really representative, not only of the particular associations formed to protect the special interests of the workers or employers who elect them, but also of the general welfare of the people. For in Parliament they must defend their interests by rconciling them with the nation as a whole.

[..] Every five years the electors at large have an oportunity of expressing their confidence in or disapproval of the work of the government by means of a plebiscite on the national list of candiates of Parliament. They do not vote on rival political programmes which they do not understand and which may or may not be put into effect, even if approved.

They simply vote on the list as a whole, "yes" for approval, "no" for disapproval.

[..] In this system the unions (workers and employees) form the foundation of the government. . . Practically all its citizens become by law either members of, or connected with, some union or association.

One may join or not, as he pleases, but whether he joins or not he must pay into the treasury of the appropriate organization the same dues as a member and is entitled to any financial benefits accuring to membership. In the case of workers this contribution amounts to one day's pay per year; the contributions of the employers are very large.

Is Fascism the Answer?
S. Alfred Jones - November 1933

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Please! No!

Oh no, it looks like we offended someone going under the handle Ex-Cabelo Marconi.

Now he's set up some kind of parody/slander site, On top of it all, he's backdating it to 2002 and writing in Spanish to ruin our credentials among right-wing ideologues and their puppet masters. You see, the London Fog team were Zapatista summer interns during that undergrad summer, and "Ex-Cabelo Marconi" is obsessed with that one little irrelevant detail. Never mind that that was a long time before we got the grant by a rogue HRDC department to start this blog.

This is all completely unprecedented.

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And Pat O'Brien was there too

HT: Canadian Taxpayers Federation

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Brand! New! Never Discredited! Really!

London council has approved in principle what some call a "bold and innovative" new economic development strategy...
Maybe in 1650 a belief that bureaucracies can "create jobs" for anybody but themselves might have been bold and innovative. I mean, really, don't get starry eyed just because they're talking about high tech.
City staff and officials with the London Economic Development Corp., TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario and the Stiller Centre for Biotechnology Commercialization, will form a transition committee to explain why they need more than $1 million in funding by 2010 to try to bring high-tech jobs to the city...

The city-initiated report, titled London's Next Economy, also would see the city set aside $3 million a year to guarantee high-risk loans to new companies, which could lead to a profit or a loss.
So if my taxes are raised for this project, and I'm less able to afford, say, a new roof, then I am poorer one roof and roofers are poorer one roofing job. If the bite isn't quite that heavy, maybe I'll just have to do without a new guitar, or a portable hard drive, and decrease the viability of retail in the city. I'm poorer one guitar and the music shop is poorer one guitar sale.

Now spread this effect across the entire city. This damage to our economy, to our well-being, is done supposedly to attract more desirable employment to the city. But plans like this throw away real value, and real employment opportunities, on investments that nobody is making with his own money. They deprive people of the things they want so that the people who jockey to run this fund get the things THEY want. And who spends the money of a multitude of strangers as carefully as he spends his own?

It's Londoners themselves who build the economy of this city. That $1 million will still be spent or invested if this plan doesn't go through. It will be spent by Londoners for Londoners, on the goods and services those Londoners want. And at the other end of that is -- the jobs that are"created" by this $1 million. Van Meerbergen has it right:
Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen said the strategy is Liberal, "old-school" thinking to "throw more tax dollars at the problem and it will somehow, magically generate jobs."

"What we should be doing is getting our spending down and cutting taxes if we're truly interested in (economic development)," he said.
Ce qu'on voit:
The proposal includes funding increases over five years and would be expected to create 10,000 jobs and increase the percentage of high-end jobs in the city's workforce from 28 per cent to 35 per cent.
Ce qu'on ne voit pas:
...I want to agree with a drainer to make a trench in my field for a hundred sous. Just as we have concluded our arrangement, the tax-gatherer comes, takes my hundred sous, and sends them to the Minister of the Interior; my bargain is at end, but the Minister will have another dish added to his table. Upon what ground will you dare to affirm that this official expense helps the national industry? Do you not see, that in this there is only a reversing of satisfaction and labour? A Minister has his table better covered, it is true, but it is just as true that an agriculturist has his field worse drained. A Parisian tavern-keeper has gained a hundred sous,I grant you; but then you must grant me that a drainer has been prevented from gaining five francs. It all comes to this, - that the official and the tavern-keeper being satisfied, is that which is seen; the field undrained, and the drainer deprived of his job, is that which is not seen. Dear me! how much trouble there is in proving that two and two make four; and if you succeed in proving it, it is said, "the thing is so plain it is quite tiresome," and they vote as if you had proved nothing at all.
From "That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen", Bastiat's "Credit" and "Public Works".

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London high-tech plan to create phoney-baloney jobs

If council could vote only on principles instead of the municipal treasury…

According to the London Free Press, city council has approved in principle a proposal to bring high-tech industries into London, but is not promising — at least for the time being — the $1 million asked for by the proposal's authors, London Economic Development Corp. (LEDC), TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario and the Stiller Centre for Biotech-nology Commercialization.

City staff and officials with the London Economic Development Corp., TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario and the Stiller Centre for Biotechnology Commercialization, will form a transition committee to explain why they need more than $1 million in funding by 2010 to try to bring high-tech jobs to the city. They also will develop an implementation strategy, decide whether the London Small Business Centre should be included and suggest nominees to a new board.

The city-initiated report, titled London's Next Economy, also would see the city set aside $3 million a year to guarantee high-risk loans to new companies, which could lead to a profit or a loss. The three groups, armed with new money and more staff, then would try to lure high-tech firms to the city.
The plan's five-year targets are as bold and inspiring as they are arbitary and incontestable for their lack of methods to attain those targets:
  • Add 10,000 new jobs, quadruple the number of fastest-growing companies and increase the percentage of high-end jobs in the workforce from 28 per cent to 35 per cent;
  • Increase by one-third the number of post-secondary graduates who stay here.
Like public advocacy marketing, or old-fashioned Soviet-era five-year plans, the proposal confuses intent with attainment, subsidizing an assertion that "It will be so" with cold, hard objective cash — yours. The proposal's only articulated strategies are, however, incontestably specific:
  • More tax dollars for LEDC, TechAlliance and the Stiller Centre — an increase of 74 per cent by 2010 compared to 2004, reaching a peak of more than $2.4 million. The money would enable those groups to increase their staff by 39 per cent, from 16.5 to 23,
perhaps not uncoincidentally the very same authors and proponents of the plan. It is conceivable that the only jobs created that can be attributable to the plan will be those hired by the three groups. And,
  • The city would guarantee one-third of business loans to qualifying companies up to a total of $15 million over five years. The loans would be of the higher-risk, higher-benefit variety, […] and the city could make or lose money,
meaning that taxpayers will subsidize the risks, and quite possibly the continued existence, of any companies that set up shop here — subsequently the benefits will likely be negated except to those who land jobs with these companies, whom one must insist are as likely to find jobs with those companies even if they should locate elsewhere. As Mike says,
And the money so thrown away will not go towards creating new businesses attracted by actual demand unsweetened with wasted tax money.

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When puppets are allowed to make their own choices

Apparently Bert is not the only depraved puppet lurking around.

Mitchieville exposes Kermit's marijuana habit.

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Cumpassion in Denmark

I want to be Danish:

Danish activists for the disabled are staunchly defending a government campaign that pays sex workers to provide sex once a month for disabled people.

Opposition parties call the program, officially known as ''Sex, irrespective of disability,'' immoral.

Obviously these critics are fascists who can't accept the idea of the disabled having sex!

Responded Stig Langvad of the country's Disabled Association: ''The disabled must have the same possibilities as other people. Politicians can debate whether prostitution should be allowed in general, instead of preventing only the disabled from having access to it.''
Hey, does ugliness count as a disability? Or debilitating anti-social tendencies? I'm thinking I've been deprived of a little love and tenderness in this brief and passionless life of mine . . . and I'm feeling a little angry. In fact, I feel so bitter I might call a human rights lawyer. Maslow would agree that love is the voter's next expectation to be fulfilled in today's social democracy. Once the state has provided me with food, shelter and security- what about LOVE? Only once I have love can I have esteem. And only once I have esteem can I become actualized enough to become a member of The Party.

And while you're at it, could you set me up with Kate Moss? I hear she might be an unemployed crack whore soon.
One former assistant said she had seen Miss Moss work her way through a 'fist-sized' mound of cocaine with fellow model Naomi Campbell in a single night.
Anti-drugs campaigners once again urged the brands to dump Miss Moss yesterday because of the influence she has impressionable teenagers. David Raynes, of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: "The public will find it very hard to understand why responsible companies who are conscious of their public image carry on supporting Kate Moss despite everything that has emerged this week when she is a role model for young girls."
"She sneaked off to (take cocaine) all the way through the dinner with Nelson Mandela at the next table. I couldn't believe how disrespectful that was."

"It was meant to be a charity dinner but as far as Kate was concerned it was just another excuse for a drugs-fuelled party."
Unlike some other folks, I am willing to accept Miss Moss for who she is; I can accept her as the skinny, pretty, perky tart she's paid to be. I expect no more of her. And I'm ugly. Help me government.

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