Thursday, November 29, 2007

When the Schreiber hits the fan

Do you get the feeling that Karlmarxheinzketchup Schreiber is using the Liberals to stay his extradiction to Germany?

Of course. Everyone knows it, but no one is saying it publicly in the House of Commons.

Do you also get the feeling that the Liberals are seeking revenge and are trying to find that magic bullet scandal against the Conservatives, similar to what they endured under Martin?

Of course. They don't care about the truth. They only care about throwing mud at the government. Do you think some of them are frustrated with their own leader, standing in the polls, so they're trying to deflect that negative attention onto the Conservatives.

They think they're onto something here. Again, not the truth, but how Canadians will perceive the supposed connection between Mulroney's shady dealings and the current government.

With phrases coming from the Liberals like "Mulroney infested party", "that party's elder statesman", "top political adviser", and seeking to find out about every governmental minister relationship with Mulroney, you wonder what the Liberals really stand for, if anything, other than seeking power.

They're trying to do the same thing with the so-called "In and Out Scandal" which they cry that shady transfers of money between the Conservative party HQ and local ridings for local TV ads was illegal. The Conservatives are suing the Liberals, and are providing evidence that every party does the same thing and that this transfer is not illegal.

During Question Period in the House of Commons, whenever Liberals ask the government why certain things aren't being done, the simple repetitive answer has been, "But we have already done that when the Liberals sat on their hands. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we've done more about solving that issue in the last 22 months than the Liberals ever did in 13 years!"

And you know what? Canadians aren't buying into the Liberal crap being thrown and if they throw too much BS, it's not going to hit the fan, it's going to blow right back in their face and the Liberal party will stink even more than they do--which of course, isn't a bad thing, just don't stand next to them.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Another death too many...

This is shameful. I can't, for the life of me, understand why tasers are still being used by the RCMP and other authorities in this country, when even one unjustified death occurred over 9 years ago.

19 deaths? By a taser?

The robocop nation continues.

Where's V when you need him?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Frickin' Robocop Taser Beams

"One death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic." - Josef Stalin

Another taser death.

This is ridiculous.

I've been watching Question Period in the House of Commons lately and I gotta agree with NDP leader Jack Layton continuing to call on Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to order that the use of tasers be suspended until we learn more about them. None of these deaths were warranted or sanctioned.

With things like photo-radar, red light cameras, and street surveillance cameras, all of these things are inching toward "robocop enforcement", where more money is put into technology, which often doesn't work, and not into actual people doing the actual enforcement of the law, especially having more of them together. (The recent young Mountie's death in Nunavut a couple weeks ago was most tragic, especially with him being the only officer on the call.)

But now we see the frequent use of tasers to assist with enforcement, which time and time again, we have seen failing in the most reprehensible manner. The use of them should have stopped after the first death.

This is Canada for crying out loud.

Here's a recap of taser-related deaths:

2007:

  • (unreleased name), 45, in Nova Scotia Correctional Facility
  • Quilem Registre, 39, in Montreal.
  • Robert Dziekanski, 40, in the Vancouver Airport in October.
  • Claudio Castagnetta, 32, died in Quebec City on Sept. 20, two days after being tasered.

2006:

  • Jason Dean, 28, in Red Deer while running from police in August.

2005:

  • Alesandro Fiacco, 33, in Edmonton, arrested while wandering into traffic in December.
  • James Foldi, 39, of Beamsville, Ont., while being arrested for breaking and entering in July.
  • Paul Sheldon Saulnier, 42, while being restrained by police in Digby, N.S., in July.
  • Gurmeet Sandhu, 41, of Surrey B.C., while being restrained during a domestic dispute in June.
  • Kevin Geldart, 34, in Moncton, N.B., in an altercation with police.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ra Ra Ras Putin

The superstitious are ruled by the church.
The ignorant are ruled by the state.

And the fearful are ruled by the mob.


- wise words from Manly P. Hall.

Those three statements above have been proven time and time again.

As such "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it" is one of my favourites, but it is only relative, assuming first that the person even has knowledge of that history.

So what if you're not even knowledgeable at all of history? Well, then the three statements will apply to you.

I'd sure like to educate Canadian youth today about Canadian political history, the corruption, the unfairness, and hypocricy since confederation. I'd like to educate some Americans on their own history. Brits too. Heck, it applies everywhere.

What's common is the lack of historical knowledge about one's own country, nevermind others.

And this is very dangerous.

But in looking at world history, there is a consistent pattern by power hungry political leaders in their quest to take control over people and a nation. They usually start small but rise quickly due to a vacuum of power resulting from a calamity, down-turn, or national depression. Then apply the tried and true formula.

Start with an identified enemy--that being a religion, a region, a country, a party, a race, and "prove" how that everything is their fault. Heck, if you're so inclined, silence any protesters and nay-sayers with force, if not remove them altogether. Act like you're telling the whole truth with much grandstanding and fanfare and spout out rhetoric with words like "strong", "peace", "order", "future", "one people". And if you're smart enough, stage a mock rebellion, or better yet, secretly control an actual rebellion or planned terrorism, and show just how mighty you are. Only you can provide the strength, the security, "the peace, order and good government" because you know they're ignorant and don't know any better.

So "build it and they will come!"

Ah, you've heard about this all before in history and are able to provide at least five examples, yes? ... At least I hope you have.

So where does this all lead?

Vlad Putin has been the Russian President for 8 years. He's leading the campaign for his party to win parliament. He's pretty popular. He's done a lot of things. He's also done a lot of things we don't know.

The young Russian energy apparent in Vladimir Putin's parliamentary run is very high. But what do they know of Vlad's history in the KGB or even when Russia was communist and ruled by ruthless dictators? Do they know he just went and had Russia claim the North Pole? Do they know how much force he's used to silence peaceful protesters (see right).

Are they ignorant of these things and history in general?

Do they fear "the west"?

You be the judge...

"Nothing is predetermined at all," a grim-faced Putin said. "Stability and peace on our land have not fallen from the skies; they haven't yet become absolutely, automatically secured."

Addressing about 5,000 backers at the rally, which blended elements of a Soviet-era Communist Party congress with the raucous enthusiasm of an American political convention, Putin suggested his political opponents are working for Russia's Western adversaries.

"Regrettably, there are those inside the country who feed off foreign embassies like jackals and count on support of foreign funds and governments, and not their own people," Putin said.

He accused unidentified Russians of planning mass street protests, like those that helped usher in pro-Western governments in the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine in 2003 and 2004.

"Now, they're going to take to the streets. They have learned from Western experts and have received some training in neighboring (ex- Soviet) republics. And now they are going to stage provocations here," he said.

Putin seemed to refer to anti-Kremlin demonstrations planned for this weekend in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Police have used force to break up several marches and demonstrations, beating and detaining dozens of protesters.

Putin, whose nearly eight years in power coincided with rising energy prices, has repeatedly charged that the West wants Russia weak and compliant.

"Those who confront us don't want our plan to succeed," he said. "They have different plans for Russia. They need a weak and ill state, they need a disoriented and divided society in order to do their deeds behind its back."

Without naming names, Putin railed against his liberal, pro-business and Communist opponents, raising the specter of the economic and political uncertainty that preceded and followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

"If these gentlemen come back to power, they will again cheat people and fill their pockets," he said. "They want to restore an oligarchic regime, based on corruption and lies."

After his speech, the normally reserved president plunged into the crowd, shaking hands and kissing a woman. The crowd, consisting mainly of young people, responded with chants of "Russia! Putin!" Some blew horns and jumped in excitement.

With the election nearing, Putin has made a string of appearances at carefully staged events where speakers have emphasized his indispensability as a leader.

The campaign has drawn heavily on imagery from the Soviet and czarist eras, periods that still evoke feelings of pride in Russians despite their history of bloodshed and oppression.

But there is also an effort to appeal to a new generation of Russians with few memories of the country's past struggles. The scenes in the grandstand at Wednesday's rally sometimes resembled those of a rowdy soccer game.

Nostalgic Soviet-era bands mixed on stage with young performers, including a girl group in miniskirts who sang "I want someone like Putin."

Elderly women wore blue United Russia T-shirts. A young man had "Russia" painted on his shaved head, and a woman sported "Putin" written by lipstick on her cheek. Many had faces painted with bands of white, blue and red—the colors of the national flag and the United Russia party.

The speech seemed intended to transfer some of Putin's popularity to United Russia, which controls parliament but stirs few passions among voters.

Have a visit to PutinWatcher.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On the Senate, House, and Mulroney

On the Senate...

The Conservative government has reintroduced two bills into the House of Commons--one to limit senator terms to eight years (instead of up to 45) and the other to consult voters by province on who they want as senators which the prime minister would appoint. Last year, this was introduced and stalled in the Senate (due to "insenaty"). But now that's they're being introduced in the House and if they pass, they will go on to the Senate. Will the 99% appointed Senate defeat it and go against the wishes of the electorate?

If so, then the Conservatives are going to support an NDP bill to hold a referendum to abolish the senate altogether. And while this isn't really a binding referendum because in order to turf the upper chamber, that would require a constitutional amendment.

Again, there hasn't been this much activity regarding senate reform since the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords under Mulroney. What Stephen Harper is doing here though is instead of opening up the constitution, he's doing everything else to push senate reform to the forefront and continue on his path to rid Canada of Liberal politicians. While he won't likely get rid of them all, he's certainly giving it a good run.

On the House...

Today the government tabled a bill to give more seats to British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario and have this in place by 2012. Using Quebec as a benchmark, as we know they and PEI have a disproportionate number of MPs compared to their population, BC will get 7, Alberta 5, and Ontario 10, upping the total number from 308 to 330. I really wonder if there's any room left in the House. Seriously. It's bloody packed in there. Eventually, it's going to look like the British House of Commons where there's no desk, just benches.

So I say they also introduce a bill to limit the total seats in the House to the maximum number of desks it can actually fit in there. And instead of buying new seats, I guess if they abolish the senate, they can always use those ones, and their offices too.

On Mulroney...

Steve Janke at Angry in the Great White North has been following the intricacies of the Mulroney-Schreiber affair. Schreiber has actually been in contact with a Liberal MP. In fact, while Stephane Dion slams Harper for having known about this issue seven months ago, so did the Liberals and NDP, all receiving letters from Schreiber on this issue, who is doing everything he can to avoid extradition to Germany for all sorts of criminal dealings.

Mulroney continues to maintain his innocence and has called for an inquiry himself. Warren Kinsella guesses that Mulroney knew one was coming and was able to hit the media first. Sounds reasonable.

The Liberals and NDP have done a good job on slamming the government, and although their claims are hypocritical in a sense, Harper has called for an inquiry, but to the avail of a dip in the polls for the Conservatives--especially in Ontario, where just last week, they were ahead of the Liberals after the tax relief announcement. This is just a blip although it shows that Ontarians don't like Brian Mulroney or that Harper has him as an advisor.

It will be interesting to see how much play the Mulroney Schreiber affair gets in the national media. Will the Conservatives be able to spin it back onto the Liberals? They might want to only do it once, as it will only prolong the issue in the media.

In summary, neat and crazy things are happening in Canadian politics, which only makes it all that much more fun.

(Senate and HOC images courtesy of the Parliamentary website (www.parl.gc.ca). Mulroney image courtesy of LA PRESSE CANADIENNE/Adrian Wyld.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One Liners

  • The Conservative government tax relief package passed through the house. With the Liberals having sat on their hands throughout, you wonder who's more relieved. Too bad gas taxes weren't also lowered. (Plop plop fix fix..)

  • Today, the Conservative government is tabling "An Act to provide for consultations with electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate." Of course, Liberals will cry their usual "insenaty": -- "I've always been in favour of senate reform, but not piecemeal reform like this." In consulting with electors, I think they're sick of hearing you say that. (Not so much..? How's this one...)

  • As you may have read, Brian Mulroney has called for a full inquiry into his dealings with Schreiber; this time he really wants to clear the airbus. (Ba dum dum!)

  • Prime Minister Harper's poll numbers are up and Dion's are way down. After the tax package was announced, Conservative numbers went up and Liberals went down. Now after the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, Conservative numbers are down and Liberals are up. Is this what we call poll dancing? (Yes? Yes? Ok, no...)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Drop the Writ!

Whoops!

The website www.assembly.ab.ca temporarily displayed a short sentence saying that information about elected members was no longer available because an election writ had been dropped.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Ken Kowalski, said it was a glitch, not a hacker.

Or maybe it was a teaser.

Lowest Planet Taxes

Prime Minister made a speech to the Canadian Club today with some great tax sound bites:

"one of the most competitive and attractive tax environments on the planet."
I now wonder what taxes are like on other planets. The carbon tax on Mars must be really high (even though it's poles are melting too).
"Federal taxes will fall to the level they were at in the last year (1963) of the Diefenbaker government -- before the policies of the late 1960s, before Trudeau -- back to the lowest level in nearly half a century"
Ah yes, before socialism.
"the lowest corporate income tax rate among the major developed economies"
Oh no! Not those evil corporations like Ford and GM who provide thousands of jobs in Ontario!
"These are economists who believe the GST is a good tax; which of course comes from the school of economics that believes there's such a thing as good taxes,"
Harper is obviously not one of those economists.
"The Liberals' opposition to tax cuts should deeply trouble you, should deeply trouble every Canadian taxpayer,"
They always have.
"[Bob Rae] spent five years using Ontario as a lab experiment for tax, spend and borrow policies,"
Yep. And like Trudeau, Ontarians have been paying for it ever since.
"And keeping taxes down, not raising them back up, is key to keeping this country moving in the right direction,"
Yeah, no kidding. That's the most libertarian thing Stephen Harper has ever said.

These are the kinds of speeches I like to hear. Bravo!

Now let's hope continued tax relief announcements are made in the 2008 budget. But I get the feeling that there won't be any. Maybe a reduction in the middle rate, that would be nice.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

INSENATY NOW!

The insenaty has already begun! Hahaha!

With Harper supporting Layton's motion to have a referendum on abolishing the senate, I predicted there will be "insenaty". I'd like to add to the definition of that word I made yesterday and mention not just the Liberal politicians, but all the naysayers like constitutional "experts" (probably Liberals) and libloggers who dismiss any tinkering with the upper chamber.

A constitutional lawyer:

Errol Mendes, a constitutional law professor at the University of Ottawa, told CTV News that Layton and Harper "know this will not get through the Senate."

"So, again they want to use the Senate as a stick to beat the Liberals with in the election."

A liblogger, one of my daily reads, Mr. Calgary Grit:
As for me...meh. I think there's something to be said for having the Senate as a check on the House and they do a lot of good committee work, adding needed amendments to more bills than people realize. It's abundantly clear that the current system is deeply flawed but I think an elected Senate would be far worse. Once you elect Senators, you're giving the institution legitimacy and inviting activist decisions which opens up a whole can of worms, especially if you have unfair regional representation.

So, yeah, it's kind of a non starter for me. But for all of you out there who love talking Senate reform, go nuts!
Well Dan (aka Calgary Grit), I will go nuts, in fact we've been going nuts ("insenaty"?) over this issue since confederation. The ideal situation would obviously be a triple-e senate with equal representation--that's the whole idea! The senate has a terrible and embarrassing history of low attendance, patronage, and waste. An elected senate is a step in the right direction because it also HOLDS THEM ACCOUNTABLE. Get it?

We should "give the institution legitimacy" because THEY are supposed represent US. WE pay THEIR salary and expenses through OUR taxes.

Stephen Harper is showing real leadership to move this issue to the forefront and try and get something done about it. And for that, I applaud him.

And perhaps by abolishing it, we can start from scratch and build a new one if the will is there.

Or are you Liberals afraid of giving up your power instead of doing what's should have been right for Canada since 1867? Being that the Liberal party hasn't done anything about it, it's proven that all it's interested in is power and lip-service.

That's what I call ... you guessed it ... "insenity".

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Insenaty

I'm coining a new word--"INSENATY". Definition: "The repetitive process by which a Canadian politician talks about constitutional reform of the Senate but he or she actually does nothing about it."

I'm obviously primarily talking about Liberals. Liberal leaders have in the past said they "favour Senate reform" but didn't make any headway whatsoever.

In fact, it was former Prime Minister, Jean Chretien who had the constitution changed that made it more difficult for such reform requiring 7 out of 10 provinces representing at least 50% of the population to agree on such change. What that really means is without Ontario or Quebec agreeing, you can forget it. Nevermind what the ROC (rest of Canada) thinks.

A triple-e senate is the ideal situation. Prime Minister Harper, in less than two years has made more strides on pushing for senate reform than any other prime minister by promising to appoint any provincially elected individual to the upper chamber, which he did with new Alberta Senator Bert Brown. As well, he put forth a bill to impose term limits on senators to 8 years, but it was scrapped by the Liberal dominated senate. Other bills, such as stricter crime bills were all stalled in the last session of parliament by the Liberal senate.

Needless to say, the non-elected, non-accountable Liberal dominated Senate must be very frustrating for the Prime Minister.

From a western Canadian point of view, with Alberta represented by 6 Senators and PEI with 10 makes no sense whatsoever and the constitution treats underrepresented provinces more like colonies with power centralized in central Canada.

Reform is difficult considering several provinces (read: premiers) don't want to reform it, but get rid of it altogether, including Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty. So what do we do?

Today, Stephen Harper's long-term plan to wipe out the Liberals continues with his announcement to support a proposed NDP motion by "effective opposition" leader Jack Layton to abolish the senate by putting the question on the ballot in a referendum next election.

In order to gain more voice, the NDP have always wanted to get rid of the senate as they've never had much of a say in there, if at all, and likely won't in the future. Much like their strong support proportional representation, the NDP will continue to be shut out of the debate as they just don't have the numbers.

But I don't think Harper wants to get rid of it. I think he understands it's important to have equal provincial representation like they have in Australia and the U.S. That said, it's virtually impossible to reform it without opening the constitution, which Harper has mentioned doing.

I'm sure he's considered this, but with the failing of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords, they opened the door for Quebec separatists to almost breakup the country, is it a path we want to go down again.

Presenting the issue directly to Canadians will generate a lively debate, thus making senate reform and democracy the top issue in the next election. For many years in online and personal discussions, I don't hear anyone agreeing that the current system is ideal, that something needs to be done.

Even if Canadians vote to abolish the senate, this decision actually has no constitutional power to carry that wish out. That said, such a referendum will corner the Liberals (again) as the entire nation, Canadians of all stripes, will peer into the history of lip-service by the party that has dominated the upper chamber for sometime and has shown absolutely no action on the issue itself. It is then you'll start hearing "insenaty" coming from Liberals again. Statements we've heard before, like "I've always said we should reform the senate" will be spun like a sticky spider web, only that Liberals will get caught in their own creation of hypocrisy.

With the will of Canadians and majority of MPs (Conservatives + NDP > 50%) agreeing to get rid of the senate, but the constitution not allowing it, then perhaps the middle ground of full-on triple-e reform will finally take place, which is in line with what Prime Minister Harper knows is right for Canada.

Question is, will reforming or ridding the senate be the final nail in the coffin for the Liberal party that Stephen Harper has been planning and effectively picking away at for sometime now?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Goods and Services Talk...

Libleader Stephane Dion today said if elected PM (what a dreamer!), he would rescind the GST reductions made in the last year by the Conservative government.

The Grit leader said many people believe the two percentage point cut to the goods and services tax was the wrong move. He said it amounts to $34 billion that the govenrment could spend elsewhere.
Where? Kyoto? And who are these "people"? Economists, professors, blah blah blah. Why doesn't he ask the average Canadian, who in the majority, don't like this tax.

Former Deputy PM, Sheila Copps, wrote today about this very thing and said that the further GST cut was "a masterstroke":

In their rarefied world, budgets are designed solely to boost productivity. Measures to achieve other public policy objectives are deemed political, as if somehow politics has nothing to do with taxation. Economists pontificate without having to get elected. Elected officials have to measure specific advice against the bigger picture.

On that count, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty pulled off a masterstroke yesterday. Flaherty gave half a loaf to those looking for across the board personal and corporate cuts. But he ignored their railing about the GST.

He listened instead to the taxi driver and the small retailer hanging on by a thread.

Most Canadians don't like the GST and want governments to reduce it. Political parties who ignore the consensus do so at their peril. It would be suicidal for any opposition party to bring down the government on the GST.

The biggest argument against a GST reduction is how it will affect inflation and whether the Bank of Canada increased interest rates. When the GST went down from 7 to 6%, did interest rates go up?

Go to the Bank of Canada website and see. Choose the daily Bank Rate from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2006 and click 'Get Rates'.

Look at what happened from July 1, 2006 (when the GST went down a point) and onward. Did the rate change? Nope, not one bit. The rate held steady at 4.50 all the way until July 2007 when it increased to 4.75.

So should we listen to these "experts" who talk about inflation and all that when it comes to the GST? No. Even they can't find the info, which took me 2 minutes to find on the web.

I just don't see how anyone can disagree with a tax reduction that puts more money directly into the coffers of Canadians. Dion keeps yapping about how income tax reductions are better. The GST cut also helps those who don't pay income tax at all, which they'll be more people in this category now that the personal exemption has been increased and the lowest bracket reduced by half a percent, retroactive to New Years Day of this year. Sure, it's not a lot, but anything is better than nothing.

Reports are showing that the average tax savings for a Canadian will be about $250 a year, or about $21 a month.

Methinks too, that this reduction was just the beginning. In fact, methinks the only tax reduction the Liberals would have ever done was the lower bracket going to 15% if elected.

With the small business tax going down to 11%, guys like me who receive profit sharing bonuses each year also welcome this move as my company will have more money to dish out. Then that bonus will be taxed less as well. Then when I go spend that money, they'll be less taken out even further.

Now that Flaherty has trumped the Liberals on taxes, and believe me, I was getting worried they wouldn't, the Liberals have now been squashed on the right side of the spectrum.

It'll be up to the NDP to further squish them on the left and we can finally get rid of this ideologically and principly void party called the Liberals.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Feds be cuttin' taxes!

Here's some news I've been waiting for for many years. With hordes of federal revenues coming in, this is welcomed relief, but they can always do better.

In a fall fiscal update today, federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty announced the following:

  • 1% reduction in the GST effective Jan. 1, 2007 putting it at 5%
  • An increase in the basic personal amount exemption to $9,600 from $8,929, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2007;
  • Two years later, on Jan. 1, 2009, the basic personal amount exemption will be increased to $10,100;
  • Reducing small business income tax to 11 per cent by 2008;
  • $10 billion in federal debt relief; and,
  • The lowest personal income tax rate moves to 15 per cent from 15.5 per cent, effective Jan. 1 2007, undoing a change made in the first Conservative budget.
  • Corporate tax rates to fall by a third by 2012 (22% to 15%).
This is all good news. And it looks like the Liberals are going to support it.

I wished that the lower and middle income tax brackets were cut further though, say a steady decline like they're doing with corporate tax rates. Why not a 1% reduction each year for the next 5 years?

I like the $10 billion going to the debt. Little does anyone remember that a month or two ago, he put $12 billion, but made little announcement about it. That payment saved on interest payments, so that is probably where he can retroactively cut the low income rate by half a point.

With the GST cut, too bad it wasn't before Christmas. Methinks a lot of gift certificates will be handed out in stockings. The cut also makes Canadian goods look cheaper, although we're getting gouged by up to 25% by middle men who aren't passing the exchange rate import savings onto consumers.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with this and it's put me in a good mood.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Royal Reserve?


A lot of folks have blogged about their opinion and the opinions of others, experts, panels, about Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach's final decision on the oil and gas royalty review that has been all over the news.

To name a few of these bloggers, which I read on a daily basis (and you should too!):

Ken Chapman
Daveberta
Calgary Grit

Each offer a different insight. Ken says Ed made good. Dave, not at all. Grit, pretty much the same as Dave.

So under Ed's plan, in a few years "we'll" be getting $1.4 billion more than before where the panel recommended more sooner to put us at $1.9 billion. So the panel's recommendation would have added a couple billion more to the provincial coffers. Whatever.

Already, the government isn't lagging on the intake side and what have they done with it? How's our infrastructure and roads. How is our environment doing? How are the cities, homelessness (which Ed addressed today actually, but we'll see about that). Any better? Health insurance premiums eliminated? No no no?

And on the other side, since this announcement, as Big Oil was screaming about a crisis, jobs lost, etc., the markets didn't do much, and I suspect their profits will continue to rise due to higher and higher oil prices.

But as I said, in the end, Albertans really won't see a dime. I doubt even those who

With this extra revenue, do you think our taxes or insurance premiums (read: tax) are going down? Nope. It's all going to infrastructure and health.

Well okay, but still, do you trust that this will make ANY difference to these things?

With their record to go on and already record revenues, I have no faith whatsoever.

My last post said I'd drink a double Crown Royal to the oil workers themselves. Now I'm going to switch to Royal Reserve, although a lower quality, it's a much more fitting name to this whole thing don't you think, and symbolic of how the average Albertan is really being treated.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Crown Royal

I think I'm going to have a double Crown Royal and Diet Coke tonight. Why?

Well, two things...

Today the federal Liberals will likely sit on their hands for the Throne Speech confidence vote. Being that this speech was delivered by the Governor General, who represents the Crown and the Royals, the first ounce will go to Stephen Harper for cornering the Libs and making some of them vote for the things they don't believe in. Mind you, not that the Liberals really care about believing in anything other than gaining power, so I doubt the backbench Liberal MPs will lose sleep over it. In fact, I think they'll sleep better knowing they don't have to face an election, which many of them would likely lose.

Secondly, also today, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is appearing on TV to deliver the government's plan for the oil and gas royalty increase (see, there's that word again!). My guess is that he won't go all the way and increase it by 20% as the Alberta Liberals have suggested, matching the royalty review and auditor general's recommendations. I predict it will be smack dab in the middle at 10%. As I've said before, it doesn't matter if it's 20% or 0%, we're screwed anyway. We wouldn't see a dime regardless. So who does the second ounce of my delicious rye and diet go to? It goes out to the oil rig workers who put in countless hours of strenuous and dangerous work. Especially to those guys, and I know many of them, who do this to save money for tuition or who are simply supporting their families. I drink to you!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Bell Tolls For Thee or The Highway to Hell?

I'm wondering if Peter Lougheed has been reading my blog.

Back in May '07, I made the suggestion on this blog that Highway 63, that deathtrap of a road to Ft. McMurray should be a toll road, as it's mostly used by business anyway.

The provincial and federal government have already set aside millions for the road, but only 16km has been twinned south of Ft. Mac. There's hundreds of clicks to go, so why the delay?

Here is my quick project plan for twinning this road:

  1. Take out a big loan to pay for twinning the whole road. Oooh, I know, "debt" is such a bad word in Alberta, but the costs down the road would definitely overrun any interest incurred now.
  2. Immediately begin twinning construction with a tight project timeline (say 2 years).
  3. Open newly twinned road with a toll booth. I don't know the exact numbers, but let's say $20 each way.
  4. Over a period of time, road pays for itself (including debt interest) without any cost to the taxpayer. Maintenance costs (paving, snow removal, emergency response) all paid for by the toll.
Is that so hard?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Speaking of Deep...

A study just released states that Canadians are deeper in debt than ever before (not including mortgages). This is not surprising. Everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses in purchasing the latest technologies, cars, and clothes, instead of saving or investing for the future.

Thing is, let's not forget that Canadians are also highly taxed. When the Chretien/Martin Liberals were in power, sure they eliminated the deficit and starting paying down the debt, but in order to keep inflation low, through the mid-late 90's, the average family saw their annual income tax bill increase by over $3,500... and a little each time, so we'd barely notice.

So it's refreshing to hear that the the current Conservative Finance Minister is looking to reduce our tax burden, and maybe, just maybe Canadians can pay off their OWN debt and save for the future.

Canadians have had deep wounds from high taxes for many years and even had salt poured on it. It's time to heal them, don't you think?

The First Cut Is The Deepest

So with the Throne Speech out of the way, and as I predicted, Stephane Dion's Liberals are going to let the Speech pass. Today, the Conservatives have introduced an omnibus crime bill with measures and tougher sentences that died on the order paper when the last session was ended.

Now, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is talking tough on taxes.

Flaherty would not tip his hand Wednesday, but he made clear that he was about through with the targeted tax cuts of the past two budgets -- which included the significant, such as a tax benefit for low income earners, and the esoteric, such as benefits for children in sports programs.

"We've fulfilled most of our tax obligations that were in the platform, so now we can move to more broad-based tax reform," Flaherty said.

There is also talk of the promised further 1% reduction in the GST, putting it at 5%.

But getting back to income taxes, being that the Conservatives have been emulating the John Howard Australian Liberal Party, I challenge Minister Flaherty to take a page out of that party's pledge to significantly cut taxes by $34 billion over several years.
Under the plan announced jointly by Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello, all taxpayers would get a tax cut — about $20 a week for those currently on average weekly earnings from July, rising to about $35 in 2010.
In annual terms, $20/week amounts to $1040/year and $35/week amounts to $1820.

So, come on Minister Flaherty, for this new session of parliament, make the first cut the deepest. Thing is, any of the wounds felt will be by the opposition Liberals, and now's your chance to pour salt on it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Thrown Speech and the Blue Pill

  • Bert Brown was just sworn in as a senator. Appointed by Prime Minister Harper in April 2007, Brown was elected in the 2004 Alberta Senatorial Election and becomes the second person to be "elected" to the senate, after Stan Waters ran under the Reform banner in the late 80's and was appointed by then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

  • Will the NDP and Bloc vote against the "Thrown" Speech?
    - Yes. But it won't be enough to topple it. The Conservatives need only one of the parties for it to pass, and I don't think the Liberals are going to balk.

  • So will the Thrown Speech contain stuff everyone can agree on (i.e. cut taxes) except one blue poison pill that Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, might swallow and if he doesn't, Harper could blame Dion for triggering an election?
    - You bet your prescription.

  • What's that pill?
    - Admitting that the Kyoto Accord targets cannot be met. Why? Because even Dion says, "We didn't get it done. It's not easy to make priorities."

  • How do I know this?
    - Because the Conservatives ran TV ads exposing this very thing that Canadians now attach to Dion. They'd simply need to be reminded.

  • So will the Speech get thrown and trigger an election?
    - Nope. Dion's a pacifist and with no money, low support (especially in Quebec), and low leadership confidence, the Liberals would lose badly.

  • Which means?
    - Dion will have to swallow the blue pill and no election will ensue and Harper wins either way.

Predictions vs. Results

At about 7:45pm yesterday, I went to my polling station and voted. There was absolutely no other voter there. I felt like a lone wolf.

I made the following Edmonton Civic Election 2007 predictions...

PREDICTIONS
Mayor: Stephen Mandel*
Ward 1: Karen Leibovici*, Jane Batty* <-I made a mistake and meant Linda Sloan
Ward 2: Kim Krushnell*, Ron Hayter*
Ward 3: Ed Gibbons*, Tony Caterina
Ward 4: Jane Batty*, Debbie Yeung
Ward 5: Bryan Anderson*, Mike Nickel*
Ward 6: Dave Theile*, Amarjeet Sohi

RESULTS (correct in bold) Mayor: Stephen Mandel*
Ward 1: Karen Leibovici*, Linda Sloan*
Ward 2: Kim Krushnell*, Ron Hayter*
Ward 3: Ed Gibbons*, Tony Caterina
Ward 4: Jane Batty*, Ben Henderson (edit -- thanks Steve)
Ward 5: Bryan Anderson*, Don Iveson
Ward 6: Dave Theile*, Amarjeet Sohi

So, not bad. I thought Debbie Yeung would do a lot better and am very disappointed that my good friend, Mike Nickel, didn't win. Much like I felt in the polling station, Mike has been the lone wolf on council being that he vote for budget tax increases the least number of times compared to the other councillors and didn't vote for their own salary increase. The only real conservative on council.

So I don't get it. We've got enough liberals and socialists on council, why add more? Council raised taxes above inflation while core services lagged. Sadly, Mike may have come across as not being conciliatory in not voting for the budgets while demanding the 23rd avenue interchange be done and a recreational centre in his ward be built.

But that's the thing. There should be no doubt that the city lacks efficiency and can save costs in many non-essential areas. But the left-leaning council simply takes the easy route and raises taxes, which hurt middle to low income folks--ironically, the folks that these so-called bleeding hearts are trying to "save". Makes no sense.

Mike told me at a friend's funeral last Saturday that he wins either way. "If I win, I win and am back on council and will fight the good fight. If I lose, I still win, because I get to spend more time with my family and family business."

Mike will be missed on council. Maybe not by the other councillors and mayor, but by the thousands of voices of concern and true fiscal conservatives out there. Too bad they didn't show up to vote.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Predictions vs. Preferences

One thing I love about politics is trying to predict what the future holds, whether based on past elections and history, media, or just a "vibe" I get. In conversations with folks I know who are VERY involved in political parties, I sometimes think I actually have a better idea of the broader, unbiased scope and feeling of the people. But then again, sometimes I'm totally out to lunch because I let my preferences get in the way. Regardless, it's still fun, so away we go...

Edmonton Civic Election

Our council has a priority problem and lacks focus. Some of that blame can be put on the mayor, but besides Councillor Mike Nickel, there is general groupthink mentality. Yes, something can be said about consensus and compromise in order to move forward, but there needs to be more concern and opposition as regards spending and priorities to balance out . The last thing this council needs is more left-of-centre tax and spend liberals.

The continued increase in property taxes above inflation is hurting middle to low income folks who have seen housing prices get out of control, plus increased rents. While our infrastructure still lags, traffic congestion explodes, pot holes remain open, and garbage and street cleaning aren't being done, we are completely losing focus of the core services that need to be improved.

Oh sure, the mayor can beg for more provincial money, but it also needs to get its house in order.

I voted for Stephen Mandel for mayor in 2004 with great expectations, but when he showed his stripe by supporting Jim Dinning in the Alberta PC leadership, plus the pot holes, and lack of focus, I ended my support for him. I don't necessarily know Don Koziak, but his back to basics approach aligns with my view. I'm more supporting him as a protest to Mandel.

PREDICTIONS
Mayor: Stephen Mandel*
Ward 1: Karen Leibovici*, Jane Batty*
Ward 2: Kim Krushnell*, Ron Hayter*
Ward 3: Ed Gibbons*, Tony Caterina
Ward 4: Jane Batty*, Debbie Yeung
Ward 5: Bryan Anderson*, Mike Nickel*
Ward 6: Dave Theile*, Amarjeet Sohi

PREFERENCES
Mayor: Don Koziak
Ward 1: Karen Leibovici
Ward 2: ?
Ward 3: Tony Caterina
Ward 4: Debbie Yeung
Ward 5: Mike Nickel
Ward 6: Chuck McKenna


Throne (thrown?) Speech and Federal Election?


My friends who are very involved at the federal level all say there's going to be an election this fall. You see, I just don't think there will be one. This will require the Liberals (96 seats) and the Bloc Quebecois (49 seats) to vote against the Throne Speech or all or part of the Conservative caucus (126) doesn't show up.

Keep in mind that the prime minister can no longer "call" an election anymore as we now have fixed four year election dates (the first one is set for 2009). He can still determine whether a vote in the house of commons is a matter of confidence, but the seat scenario in this minority government situation doesn't change and only the Liberals + Bloc can do it.

Prime Minister Harper is baiting the opposition parties to bring down the government, otherwise help pass the bills eventually mandated out of the Throne Speech. Liberal leader Stephane Dion doesn't appear to be taking that bait. Although it's a minority, Harper is bullying the other parties into treating it like a quasi-majority. Dion is a pacifist and is appearing to back down from a fight.

And why wouldn't he? Dion is embattled after the by-election losses in Quebec and the sharks are surrounding him. The party has a lack of donors. The Quebec separatist movement is dying and the Liberals can't use the old Trudeau centralization mantra to win federalist support.

Ideology and familiarity are the keys here. Unfortunately, while most people look at political things as either left or right, they fail to look at other dimensions, and a broader principled view. That said, with a lack of sound policies, Canadians aren't clear on who the Liberal party is under Dion ... or is it Ignatieff, or Bob Rae? It's not that comfortable familiarity they once enjoyed.

The New Democratic Party under Jack Layton has a golden opportunity to move to a little to the right here and squish the ideologically defunct Liberals, much like the Labour Party did in Britain. But again, people need to become familiar with the NDP, as the highly respected Ed Broadbent did when he was leader during the 80's. The Green Party movement is essentially filling the void the NDP has failed to invigorate. A stronger NDP in certain parts of the country is good for Conservatives, debate, and Canada as a whole.

Of course, Harper wants a majority, and his grand plan to transform this recently merged right-of-centre party into the new "natural governing party" may perhaps become reality. The longer Harper stays in power, the more opportunity people have to get to know him and how he governs, which is a good thing.

It's all these reasons and more that I don't think there's going to be a federal election, nor would I prefer there be one anyway. I'm just not in the mood, nor do I get a sense that anyone cares or wants one either.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Dollar vs. The Prime Ministers

Based on a graph I found here and a hunch spurred on years ago by Mike Jenkinson at the Edmonton Sun, I added the election years and Prime Minister elected at that time. See if you can see any correlations between who gets elected, what policies they introduced, and the Canadian dollar vs. the U.S. greenback.


I'd say it's kind of interesting, don't you think?

R o y a l t i e s. Royalties.

I remember that Trailer Park Boys episode where J-Roc put out an album using the tunes of another rapper, Detroit Velvet Smooth (DVS.), and called it "cross promotion, mafa." Then the evil Mr. Lahey called DVS and told him about all this. So DVS shows up at the rap concert party at J-Roc's, shoots a gun in the air for attention, and tells J-Roc that he's a punk for "jackin' my tunes" and deserves a thing called "r o y a l t i e s ... royalties".

First off, it makes me laugh that rappers are going after other rappers for jackin' their tunes when everyone knows that everyone does it and a lot of it is simply unoriginal.

Secondly, it reminds me of the whole "sitchiation" in Alberta with the oil sands, the missing $6 billion in r o y a l t i e s, and the provincial government's ineptitude. In this case, J-Roc is the oil company, DVS is the Alberta government, and Mr. Lahey is the auditor general who brought this to our attention in the first place.

I'm not sure where I stand on this issue. It's complex... formulas, backroom deals, and stuff.

But what I do wonder is, even if we got that $6 billion, what would the provincial government do with it anyway?

I mean, they already have large surpluses and squander it away. MLAs and bureaucrats already rack up high expenses on trips and the like. All while, cities are still under the crunch and raise property taxes, lack of affordable housing, lower-middle class hurting health care insurance premiums are still around, power bills are still high, tuition is high, taxes are high, and our roads, highways, and infrastructure are at least a decade behind in maintenance, upgrades, and creation.

Yet at the same time, what do these big energy companies do with that massive profit? Some of them have threatened to pull out of Alberta. Yeah, right. Callin' you on that bluff there, sharky.

So to me, it really doesn't matter who has that $6 billion. No matter what, the average Albertan still gets screwed and we wouldn't see a dime of it anyway.

That said, we need a decision on this, immediately before it gets muddled. It's obvious what Albertans will say, so why have a citizens' review? Premier Stelmach should have the interest of the people of Alberta and the government in particular, not bow to idle corporate threats and simply needs to act like Detroit Velvet Smooth, shoot a gun off in the air, go up to J-Roc Oil and say, "You jackin' our oil? R o y a l t i e s... royalties".

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

14 thousand thousand thousand

Or you can call it $14 billion.

With the federal Conservatives paying off $14 billion in debt, there are two things I can expect:

1. My generation got really screwed by the previous generation for leaving us this massive debt to pay off with a continued high tax regime.

2. Hopefully my taxes that are paying down this debt won't be has high as my children's.

But I doubt the latter will prevail as I note the situation in Alberta, where since the debt has been paid off, there have been absolutely no tax reductions, other than seniors who don't have to pay health insurance premiums anymore. Now we find out today from the Alberta Auditor General that political staffers are getting insane bonuses, a couple MLAs got paid for no work done on a trip to Idaho, expenses are racked up, and the big whopper... that the province (read: taxpayer) has been short-changed up to $6 billion (that's 6 thousand thousand thousand) in oil and gas royalties over the past several years.

This article says it all.

I'd like to add that no social engineering or program can help a middle to low income person or family more than them simply keeping more of their OWN hard earned money other than lower taxes.

In conclusion:
WE ARE GETTING ROYALLY SCREWED BY OUR GOVERNMENTS.
THEY ARE STEALING OUR MONEY. AND IT'S GOT TO STOP.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quebec Tri-Election Analysis

While byelections don't amount to a hill of beans in relation to the next general election, the three byelections (or tri-election) in Quebec appear to have had a significant impact on each party's apparatus and confidence. All of this is good news for the Conservatives.

Warren Kinsella shows the total combined votes for all three ridings:
Conservative3147536.9
Bloc 2398328.1
NDP1458717.1
Liberal1211814.2
Green21972.6

So what does this show?

1. Exposed Liberal infighting. Rumours are that 2nd place leadership hopeful and deputy leader Michael Ignatieff, and perhaps third place leadership finisher, Bob Rae, secretly orchestrated the Liberal defeat in the traditionally Liberal-friendly riding of Outremont in Montreal to shed darkness upon the "leadership" of Stephane Dion. If this tactic continues, and there aren't big changes in the party apparatus by Dion and he stops appointing candidates, undermining the grassroots (not that the Liberals really have any), look to see Dion's Liberals get trounced next election, especially in Quebec. The sharks are circling around him big time. The question is how much of a bite do these sharks want to take out of the party?

2. False Hope for NDP. I like it when the NDP win where the Liberals should have. People have been wondering where Jack Layton's been lately. Apparently he was busy getting votes in one riding. One riding. Not 308. Outremont is a fairly wealthy riding and it seems the NDP appealled to the rich socialists who used to vote Liberal, because it was the "in" thing to do. The NDP candidate had slick looking signs everywhere--way more than the other guys. All in all, this "all-in" NDP riding only means Jack gets to be leader for another election or two and does not mean an NDP breakthrough in Quebec. It will mean that the NDP will put more wasted effort in Quebec and hopefully for the Conservatives, the NDP won't put as much time in British Columbia like they did last election where the Conservatives lost 8 ridings to the NDP. And keep in mind that the Green Party will continue to bite away at soft NDP voters.

3. Conservatives are strong in Quebec outside Montreal. In these two ridings, they easily won one of them, and came a close second in the other. The Liberals were wiped out. Either the Quebec "Nation" resolution earlier this year appears to have had a significant impact on Quebecker's minds, that the clear federalist option now defaults to the Conservatives because Dion is seen as a weak leader, or both. Harper can only dream that Dion stays on as leader for the next election. This tri-election means that the Conservatives are now well established in Quebec and provides a lot of confidence to build toward a majority next election, now likely in 2009.

Updated House of Commons party standings (from Wikipedia):

Parties BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL YK NT NU Total
Conservative Party * 18 28 12 8 41 11 3 2
3


126
Liberal Party * 7
1 3 51 12 6 6 4 4 1
1 96
Bloc Québécois *




49






49
New Democratic Party * 10

3 12 1 1 2


1
30
Independent *




2
1




3
Vacant * 1
1
2







4
Total 36 28 14 14 106 75 10 11 4 7 1 1 1 308

Conservatives (126) + Bloc Quebecois (49) = 175
Liberal (96) + NDP (30) = 126

Even the Conservatives + NDP = 156 which is more than 50%.

These are the reasons why Harper won't call an election until 2009. He doesn't need to. The big issue then will be the mission in Afghanistan. This, however, won't play well in Quebec, where support for the mission is low. It will be interesting to see how Harper spins this.

In other news, Prime Minister Harper will be meeting His Holiness The Dalai Lama next month, despite objections from the Chinese communist government. Note that the Conservative government awarded honourary Canadian citizenship to the Tibetan Buddhist leader last year.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another "surplus"

The federal government "surplus" was predicted by Finance Minister Flaherty to be $3 billion. But it's more than double that at $6.4 billion.

I've already blogged a billion times about how government "surpluses" shouldn't be called that, but "overtaxation amount". When are middle and lower income folks going to get a break?

My inside sources tell me that Conservative MPs are quietly pushing for broad-based tax cuts in the next budget.

Canadians are way overtaxed. Enough of the social-engineering targeted tax cuts. Many Conservatives were very disappointed with the last budget where no income tax cuts existed, all to fix the so-called "fiscal imbalance" with the provinces. I just don't think that will ever please every province.

And I don't want to see a measly 1% cut for the lower or middle bracket. While I understand that can have an affect on inflation, how about a 1-2% reduction every year for the next 5 to 10 years? That would force preceding governments to look for ways to become more efficient.

But alas, Harper promised eventually to cut the GST to 5%. My guess is that's where things are going instead of income tax, but why not both? Why not?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

1998 was not the hottest year on record. 1934 was.

Environazis often site NASA's claim that 1998 was the hottest on record as proof that our increased SUV-driving ways are causing man-made global warming.

However, Toronto blogger and skeptic Stephen McIntyre redid the math and submitted his findings to NASA. (From the Toronto Star:)

A former mining executive who runs the blog ClimateAudit.org, McIntyre, 59, earned attention in 2003 when he put out data challenging the so-called "hockey stick" graph depicting a spike in global temperatures.

This time, he sifted NASA's use of temperature anomalies, which measure how much warmer or colder a place is at a given time compared with its 30-year average.

Puzzled by a bizarre "jump" in the U.S. anomalies from 1999 to 2000, McIntyre discovered the data after 1999 wasn't being fractionally adjusted to allow for the times of day that readings were taken or the locations of the monitoring stations.

McIntyre emailed his finding to NASA's Goddard Institute, triggering the data review.

"They moved pretty fast on this," McIntyre said. "There must have been some long faces."

I wonder how the optics of Canada signing onto the Kyoto Accord around that time would have been if 1998 wasn't so trumped-up as the hottest on record. It now appears that the political air was.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Return of "Haught vs. Naught"

Haught vs. Naught #6
(Where the "gh" is silent")


For starters, here's the archive of H vs. N from 2006:
http://hatrockscave.blogspot.com/2006/04/haught-vs-naught.html
http://hatrockscave.blogspot.com/2006/04/haught-vs-naught-no-2.html
http://hatrockscave.blogspot.com/2006/05/haught-vs-naught-3.html
http://hatrockscave.blogspot.com/2006/05/haught-vs-naught-4.html
http://hatrockscave.blogspot.com/2006/06/haught-vs-naught-5.html

It's interesting to read the happenings of our parliament back then, just over a year ago. No one remembers any of that, do they? Did you? I totally forgot.

Without further adieu:

Haught:

The weather -- North America is undergoing a significant heatwave, including Edmonton. Kelowna is super haught. Here in Kansas, it's terribly hot and humid. Las Vegas is way up in the cent-teens (115F). Crazy. Listen for Kyoto krazed environazis calling it global warming. But being on recent holidays in the Okanagan and noticing the summer activity in Kansas, I'd say that everyone is enjoying it.

But perhaps external factors are causing this to happen, not just on earth, but everywhere in our solar system and others. In fact, maybe our solar system isn't even part of the Milky Way as we had originally thought. Welcome to Earth, part of the Sun solar system, which is in the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy (S-DEG). Cool. Er .. I mean HAUGHT!

The Canadian electorate -- It doesn't appear that we have to endure another silly summer in politics. Harper tends to avoid it and prefers the dirty burgers. Dion probably won't "bite either". Stampede was full of political hob-nobbing, but nothing pie-tacular happened. Watch Jack Layton speak and get more attention from the media as a result, but if an orange NDP tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear? Voters are haught for not listening to it and the rest of the politico and getting on with real life.

Naught:

Shawn Hennessey & Dennis Cheeseman -- Two Mayerthorpe jerks in cohoots with James Rozko to kill four RCMP. Shameful.

Conrad Black -- Guilty. But I could care less. Why do others?

Jean Lafleur -- Guilty. 45 months. Ouch. So far, no Liberals have been convicted as far as I know.

Federal Liberals -- How many more Liberals are going to announce they're not running next election or jump ship? How much in debt are their former leadership hopefuls, including current leader? Ouch. I bet they all wait until they can write all this off.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More on why not to raise the drinking age

Like with most contraband, you limit it by law and it goes underground. Something that's taboo becomes an exciting novelty. There really isn't a lot of binge drinking going on amongst the 18 year old crowd on campuses and in the fraternity houses. How do I know? I was 18, then soon in a fraternity, and a responsible adult, learning from mistakes early on.

And there's a professor guy who agrees. h/t to Vitor for this study...

"McCardell thinks that, on campuses, a drinking age of 21 infantilizes students, encouraging immature behavior with alcohol and disrespect for law generally. Furthermore, an ``enforcement only'' policy makes school administrations adversaries of students and interferes with their attempts to acquaint students with pertinent information, such as the neurological effects of alcohol on young brains. He notes that 18-year-olds have a right to marry, adopt children, serve as legal guardians for minors, purchase firearms from authorized dealers, and are trusted with the vote and military responsibilities. So, he says, it is not unreasonable to think that they can, with proper preparation, be trusted to drink."
Perhaps this is why when a group of us Albertan Canadians would go to the U.S. at 21, we were also able to not only handle our alcohol much better than Americans, due to already having 3 years experience, we were more responsible with it because we knew the consequences already. I even noticed a difference between the 19 year olds in Alberta compared to BC where the legal age is 19.

Why do I keep posting about this subject? Well, the Alberta government is looking into it and in my opinion, if implemented, the law would fly in the face of freedom, as a continued war against fun. So I ask Ted Morton (someone whom I supported in the PC leadership race actually), is there a study on drinking problems "in the high schools"? Because I haven't heard or known there was one.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A View from the Right on his view of the left wing media

Fellow Blogging Tory, Zednik at "A View From The Right" provides a scathing review of the leftist Canadian media's response to the recent G8 summit, which our Prime Minister attended and accomplished many-a-thing, despite reports by U2's Bono.

So within a week Harper and his Tories helped create a framework for a
greenhouse gas agreement that includes both the United States and Russia, and
gave us four more viable trading partners in Europe, as well as helping form a
huge aid package to Africa.

Yet all that was reported was that he refused to meet Bono and therefore hates Africans, and he is “really mean” to the Maritime Provinces, and is “Anti-Environment”


But I wanted to further comment and say that Conservative media relations therefore need to improve somehow, because even when our Prime Minister does good things, it doesn't translate into good vibes for Canadians and their view of him, although he still leads the leadership pack.

I, for one, did not realize any of these things were accomplished at the G8 summit. Not at all.

But I did know and was also quite happy that Mr. Harper actually turned down an unelected non-politician such as Bono. As much as Stephen Harper and I like U2's music (more of the old stuff though), he thus spent his time more wisely with actual national leaders in putting together a big African aid package. And Bono turns around and cuts him down. Maybe Bono needs to find another "good" cause rather than up his ego with the media. How about writing better songs?

Anyway, in summary, Harper better than you think, CBC bad, and Bono Vox? Well he's just all bad talk now.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What Alberta owes taxpayers

They predicted $4 billion.

But now it's over $8 billion.

Good estimating there!

Why is it called a surplus though? Why can't we call it "the overtaxed amount"? Sure, you could say, "It's everyone's surplus!". Yeah, but it depends what it's spent on. And I think a lot of you can agree that this is the problem.

The Alberta government is raking in the dough, not just from oil revenues (which went down from the previous year), but from income taxes, gambling, and other sin taxes. This is due to the enormous growth and immigration to "Wild Rose Country".

With more people, there's obviously more of a demand on health and other services.

About one billion bucks of that revenue though is from health care insurance premiums, which is a fancy name for "the tax to remind you that health care is actually not free". But as I've said before, these premiums hit lower-mid income single parents over 25 and families pretty hard, and for folks going back to school or training. Those who can't, get collection agencies after them which then hurts their credit (although no credit was really applied for and issued).

As they did with the seniors, now is the time to get rid of it. What's nutty is that you can't even claim it on your income tax, so you're being taxed on it as well.

Politicians are so out of touch with this because they don't see the monthly bill.

After that "health tax" is gone, then we should look at lowering provincial income taxes even further as well as building more schools and hospitals (which I guess they've started doing).

But Alberta roads aren't looking so good lately. Our infrastructure deficit is massive. The QEII main artery highway is in bad shape, not to mention a lack of a ring road around Calgary and Edmonton's being way behind.

But worst of all is the lack of a good highway to Ft. McMurray, where the revenue generated from fuels these surpluses. How about some payback Ed?

I sure miss those $400 Ralphbucks. Edbucks just doesn't sound right.

Age of reason...

It's not only me who feels the way I do about why we don't need to raise the drinking age.

Banning 18-year-olds from legally drinking could just push their habits underground to bush parties or house basements, in places where they're not supervised and pose just as severe a threat, argued Shirley Lowe, executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association.
Hmm, isn't that what I said in my previous post?
"They also recognized that raising the legal drinking age might simply displace the problem of violence: underage drinkers might do their drinking at bush parties instead of bars," the roundtable report said.
Yep.
Mo Blayways, a bar owner and president of the Old Strathcona Hospitality Association, said upping the policing levels in busy districts should be the top priority. But he reasoned that a higher drinking age, along with a barrage of other measures like drink-price minimums, might have some effect on violence levels.
Police! Who would've thought? But my friend Mo runs Devlin's Martini Bar where the age requirement is 21 years.

Granted, there are some bars on Whyte that attract that 18 year-old triple highballs for half price crowd. But what's need is more security and bar staff to handle these situation promptly.

Drink price minimums to a point are good because you don't and can't have a bar giving out free or dirt cheap drinks, but there's a line somewhere. Maybe a $1/ounce. But that's it.

Staggered bar closings is the dumbest idea. Hello more lineups and frustrated folks who'll fight even more.

As I said, how about no closing time?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Alberta Tories look at raising the drinkin' age ... again

$650,000. What a freakin' waste of money. The Alberta government is implementing a "Cage Your Rage" campaign to curb fighting in bars.

Alberta has been growing like crazy lately and has been getting many under 30 folks coming here from other provinces to work. This has definitely raised the number of patrons at local waterholes.

But raising the drinking age won't do a thing to stop fighting. The under age crowd will find a way. They'll have more house parties when the parents aren't home, or in their aparments, at bush parties, illegal hall parties, and they'll find the booze. There has been a bit too much violence at house parties in the Greater Edmonton area over the last few years. Raising the age just might increase that.

I can see it now, they'll announce when the drinking age will be raised, to even 19, and you'll see a slew of 18 year old guys stocking up at the liquor stores and having their own parties after that date.

Actually, what should happen and what will solve a lot of problems (especially on Whyte Avenue) is to allow bars to stay open as long as they wish (like in Vegas) if they can afford to, while at the same time stop serving over-intoxicated patrons. People in Alberta work really weird hours, why should they be denied these freedoms?

The problem starts when all the bars close and drunk patrons pour out into the street all at the same time looking for cabs, food, etc. Now that bouncers and bodyguards will soon have to be trained like real security guards, they will be better enabled on dealing with and be responsible for handling situations inside and outside their establishments.

Telling an 18 yr old that he can vote, smoke, fight in a war, but not have a beer slaps in the face of liberty. The clear large majority of bar patrons are responsible.

All these regulations on bars, patio sizes, drink prices, closing times, blah blah blah, do NOTHING.

After the freak Canada Day riot on Whyte Avenue way back (which was actually started by out-of-province hoodlums in their mid-twenties), I wrote to the Edmonton Journal saying that we simply need a patrol car at each major intersection on the popular strip and more beat cops. Well, they finally did it and violence on the avenue has dropped dramatically (as long as the Oilers don't make the playoffs, but they had the whole works of cops out for that one eventually).

What's also stupid is how the city hasn't increased the number of cabs allowed in six years! It has become very difficult to find a cab once the bars all close at the same time. Again, stupid regulations.

Now you may think I'm contradicting my libertarian principles due to my strong stance on no smoking in bars. It's simple. In a bar, when someone is drinking, it doesn't affect me at all. If someone is smoking, even at the other end of the room, it does, especially the bar staff who are subjecated to it on a daily basis. There's a big difference there.

If that $650,000 should go to anything, it's more cops who can actually enforce the existing laws, not bureaucratic pet projects that will likely do nothing to change someone's behavior (in some cases, might actually cause a backlash).

Welcome to the new nanny state.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Interesting Parallel - Reaching Zen in Canadian Unity

The Dalai Lama renewed pleas for Tibet's autonomy after meeting with New
Zealand's prime minister at an Australian airport yesterday, the latest in a string of meetings with dignitaries that have drawn condemnation from China.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's 11-day tour of Australia has created a furor in Beijing, which regards the 71-year-old Buddhist icon as a beacon for pro-independence sentiment in Tibet. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly said he seeks only autonomy for the region, which China rules by military force.

Read on...
"China should give Tibet meaningful autonomy, because we have different language, with that rich different culture and heritage and rich Tibetan Buddhist tradition," he said, echoing earlier comments. "Intentional or unintentional, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place."

For Canadians, that language sounds familiar doesn't it?
"Canada should give Quebec meaningful autonomy, because we have different
language, with that rich different culture and heritage and rich French-Quebecois tradition... Intentional or unintentional, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place."

From this, if you sympathize with Tibet over China, for the same reasons, perhaps you should sympathize with Quebec over Canada. Yeah, yeah, it's not like the English took over Quebec by brute force or anything (lol).

Of course there are differences between these situations, but the parallel is interesting in trying to understand where a Quebecois is coming from and why perhaps it is noble for Gilles Duceppe to push for sovereign independence and Mario Dumont preferring autonomy.

But I have to ask, are Quebeckers really that oppressed?

Or do they tire of simply being dependent on the rest of Canada economically, not necessarily be independent of Canada, but contribute to the greater good, and in exchange, grant them more autonomy?

Sounds like how some Albertans feel, where Europe is possibly headed, what Ireland and Scotland wanted and got, and what the United States of America has been since its formation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Conservative Spin

With the help of the Atlantic premiers in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, the Liberals appear to have been successful in the latest round of spin as regards the recently passed federal budget first reading in the House of Commons.

What doesn't make sense is that the budget deal offered these provinces the option to stay in the current Atlantic Accord or a one-year trial in the new provincial transfer equalization formula which considers the off-shore oil revenue generated by these provinces.

Because of this, the Conservative caucus was right to kick out Nova Scotian MP Bill Casey, not necessarily voting against the budget, but for flip flopping on the issue.

But it hasn't been properly spun that way by the Conservatives. A CTV.ca poll targets this misconception.

The latest Decima poll has the Conservatives at 29% and the Liberals at 32%.

Overall, I'd say Prime Minister Harper and the Conservatives need to do a much better job at promoting their agenda to the public and get into the living rooms of the average Canadian again like they did in the election. Sadly, the best way to do this is through the TV media.

I'm afraid that most Canadians just don't know our Prime Minister. I continually have to tell people that he's actually a personable guy with a keen sense of humour and a passion for this country and its people. What a contrast to when I met him over 10 years ago at Ezra Levant's Christmas party in Calgary.

However, they have been doing a good job in attacking Liberal leader Stephane Dion, as another poll suggest that a clear majority of Canadians don't want Stephane Dion as Prime Minister.

It appears all the pandering to the middle and to Quebec was all for naught, or are the Conservatives following the notion that when Canadians vote in an election, the majority vote against the leader they don't like?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quebec budget update

Well, the Quebec budget passed with the ADQ voting against it and the PQ caucus abstaining with only a few who voted against as part of a negotiation between Charest and the interim PQ leader.

As you can read from my previous post, I would be in total agreement with blogger Adam Daifallah as regards to the ADQ.

"For months, I've been telling anyone who would listen that the ADQ is not an
ideologically consistent conservative party. "
I'll say this again, and probably again later. Lowering taxes will eventually increase revenue for the government to enable it to pay off the debt, then it can reduce taxes further by using the money saved on interest payments.

So why the inconsistency from the ADQ? If they want to govern, they'd better get their so-called conservative act together.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Alberta-wide Smoking Ban

YAY! The Alberta PC government caucus just approved Minister Dave Hancock's smoking ban proposal, which no longer allows smoking in all public and work places, which includes bars, bingos, and the like.

Party members agreed, also deciding to ban tobacco sales in pharmacies and on post-secondary campuses, as well as outlaw promotional and so-called "power wall" cigarette displays in retail stores.

For someone like me who suffers from chronic sinusitis, I loathe cigarette smoke. Since Edmonton has had such a ban, I have enjoyed going to the bar again, my clothes don't smell like an ashtray, and I can breathe without nearly vomiting.

They don't have a state-wide ban in Kansas, like they do in California, and it sure is noticeable when I head to the pub here in Topeka.

There is one thing I do not like about the bylaw in Edmonton is it does not allow smoking on bar patios or in outdoor beer gardens, which is really odd for two reasons:

1) When the popular Fringe Festival is on, for example, adults are not allowed to smoke in the outdoor beer garden, yet children walking with their parents around the Fringe grounds outside the no-smoking beer gardens are subjected to public smokers.

2) These laws often do not have requirement that smokers are not allowed to gather right outside the door of a building, which in the winter time usually entails a swoth of stinky smoke when you enter and leave a building. Not only that, especially outside of bars and niteclubs, the amount the cigarette butts (that smokers think are biodegradeable) which are left on the cement or nearby sidewalks has dramatically increased. Since Edmonton has had a smoking ban, I've taken notice of this disgustingly massive increase in making Edmonton look dirty and grose. This is littering. I guess more covered ashtrays is the solution or bylaw enforcement will have to step up and fine businesses that do not clean up their patrons' crap.

Regardless, although I'm a libertarian at heart, smokers have crossed the line with my health and enjoyment of fresh air too many times to count. It's not about us non-smokers being whimps or intolerant, and don't give me that "cigarette taxes pay for health care" bullshit, when we all end up paying for your lung cancer surgery anyway. Many friends of mine who've quit always tell me that while smoking, you don't really notice the smoke until you're a non-smoker.

And because we all share in the burden of increasing healthcare costs in Alberta, it's time we all shared in the prevention.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mind your ADQs -- The Quebec budget '07

You know, I don't understand Mario Dumont, leader of the Quebec opposition and the Action Democratique du Quebec (ADQ).

During the recent Quebec election, Premier Jean Charest promised that the $700 million federal transfer funds to Quebec will go to tax cuts. Many have said that the election was timed in conjuction with such an announcement. This is likely.

I thought the ADQ party was about tax cuts, deregulation, and autonomy? I was excited that they did so well, but now it appears they're threatening to not support the latest budget. Why not support these measures? I don't get it.

Tax reductions in Quebec something I think they badly need to reinvigorate their economy. Instead, they remain the highest taxed group in Canada, and they continue to fall into debt.

Jean Charest is on the right track here. Time and time again history has shown that when governments cut taxes, they eventually GAIN tax revenue as the money goes through the economy to provide raises, better jobs and more of them, and thus a better tax base. They don't "blow a hole" in the budget as many socialists like to squawk. Government spending can be said to be that "hole" and it's no wonder why Quebec is still a have-not province despite a good Canadian economy.

Anyway, back to Mario Dumont. His party wants more autonomy for Quebec. Well if that's true then why is he supporting the use of money from the FEDERAL government, earned by people from Alberta and Ontario, to pay for things instead of giving it back to the people, you know, the QUEBEC people who earned it in the first place?

You know with the federal government not offering broad-based income tax reductions in its last two budgets, the Alberta government not doing the same thing either in its recent budget, and supposed conservative opposition parties voting against tax cuts, it kind of makes you wonder if there are any real libertarian-conservative parties remaining in Canada... except for Jean Charest's Quebec Liberals?

*sigh*

Friday, May 25, 2007

"High" taxes in Kansas

I thought I'd share with you a weird law in the great state of Kansas. The Drug Tax Stamp has to be one of the strangest forms of taxation. Do any of the dealers actually buy these things?

Drug Tax Stamp

The fact that dealing marijuana and controlled substances is illegal does not exempt it from taxation. Therefore drug dealers are required by law to purchase drug tax stamps.

The drug tax is due as soon as the dealer takes possession of the marijuana or controlled substance. Payment of the drug tax will purchase the drug tax stamps. Attach the stamp to the marijuana and/or controlled substance immediately after receiving the substance. The stamps are valid for 3 months. Drugs seized without stamps or having expired stamps may result in criminal or civil penalties which may include fines, seizure of property or liens against real estate.

A dealer is not required to give his/her name or address when purchasing stamps and the Department is prohibited from sharing any information relating to the purchase of drug tax stamps with law enforcement or anyone else.

Purchasing drug tax stamps does not make possession of drugs legal.

Does this actually work? If so, it may be one of the only forms of "high" taxes that Americans can agree on.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Angry In The Great White North's Steve Janke

This week in the Canadian political blogosphere, top blogger Steve Janke has been amazing us by delving deep into the backdoors of Kyoto/Liberal lobbyists, David Suzuki's hypocracy, and sock puppet Justin Trudeau.

You just can't find this good stuff in the mainstream media, folks, so a big hat tip to Steve for continually showing us the cloud of power that socialist Liberals operate under.