Dec 15, 2008

Let Us Give Thanks to the Coalition (and bury them)

Unwittingly, Canada owes the Three Stooges Coalition its undying gratitude. However, I doubt that the coalition sees it this way, or that they planned it so.
  1. The appearance of the coalition has caused the notion of proportional voting to be put on the back-burner, or to be killed for a really long time. Always distressing to those that thought it through, proportional voting has a killer main drawback. Single issue groups, or fringe wannabes, or even regional "sounds good to me" instant-issue uprisings, can hold a government to ransom. Whether it is the Bloc, the Greens, an "auto workers" party, a religion-based organization, or even some spur-of-the moment issue like Unhappy Income Trust holders, all gain an entre to power and (let's face it) blackmailing.

    I believe that most Canadians opposed to the coalition held this view, even though it was an established political party, the Bloc, that gave them the greatest concern about the potential for holding the government (and, in this case, the rest of Canada) to ransom. But I also suspect that the used car salesman's platform contributed to the hard line against the coalition. After all, if less than 19% of Canadians voted for the NDP (81% against, using the coalition's exquisite logic), their platform wasn't worrisome for Canadians until it became a vivid possibility when members of the unholy coalition came slithering out of their holes around December 1st.

    In good times, and when the likelihood of a fringe party holding Canada to ransom isn't in the cards, the subject of proportional voting likely isn't important to the majority of Canadians. It may even hold some technical or fleeting interest and mindshare. But when the effects of minor or fringe parties and alliances appear, as they did with the self-serving coalition, then Canadians take a stand. And will remember this for quite a while. And that's why proportional voting is not only off the table, but has been dealt a serious blow.

    Because Canadians don't want to become another banana republic, beset by a government de jour that arises from the self-interests of hordes of here-today, gone-tomorrow parties. Whose main platform may be eliminating smoking in cow pastures, or saving one specie of plant in the frozen tundra, or even (gasp) being against duly-elected governments. Canada be damned ... I want my issue solved, and then I don't care what happens as long as my MP cheque arrives in the mail each month.

  2. The coalition also earns our thanks for wonderfully demonstrating their self-serving appearance and agenda. Climbing out of their slimy holes, the coalition presented us with a future Prime Minister who Canadians had soundly rejected not six weeks earlier and who, it turned out, was ill-suited to lead the Liberal party ... let alone a national government. And an agenda conceived in backrooms, one version for the public and multiple wish lists held in reserve for when they were in power. Nice. Not.

    All the great-sounding thrusts, like (unaccountable) Kelowna Accord spending, auto sector bailouts, day care and, of course, "infrastructure" spending. But none of the warts like The Green Shift (tax, tax, tax), or $50 billion in tax increases for all Canadian businesses, and nationalizing everything in sight. That would likely come later when Comrades Jack and Gilles would "negotiate" with Prime Minister Dion (or the Liberal leader of the day) behind closed doors. Because, when you are a Liberal, nothing is as important as regaining power and keeping it, no matter the cost ... to others, of course.

    And would that include a lush Senate appointment for Elizabeth May, the most disgraceful and two-timing politician in the 2008 election? My guess is that it would. After all, aren't key (Liberal) party faithful to be rewarded by an appointment to the Red Chamber?

    And that pesky proposal to cut political parties off the $1.95/vote/year funding at the public teat? No doubt that, far from being eliminated, it would have been retained and increased. After all, when it's Other People's Money ...

  3. Thankfully, Canadians have also had a good look at the motives and character of the coalition. The Bloc's motives are clear on many levels. So too the Liberals who have selected once more to try to quickly grasp power the easy way (from their point of view), rather than repair the very visible democratic deficit that has existed, unaltered, since 2001.

    By the way, I think it's a bit rich for Belinda Stronach to be mouthing off about the leadership selection process in the Liberal party when it was Paul Martin who gave her responsibility for coming up with a plan to repair the Democratic Deficit in the party ... while handing her a minister's portfolio for crossing the floor and keeping his party in power. Which only confirms my opinion of Ms. Stronach: brainless, opportunistic, and lacking principles. Which is why she ended up in the Liberal party in the end. Good company.

  4. Let's not forget Comrade Jack who has never seen a business that shouldn't be taxed or nationalized because, as everyone knows, unions and governments are really good at managing businesses better than owners and shareholders. A graduate laureate of sleaze, Comrade Jack likes to promise everything and to insist that it really won't cost anything because "big business" is paying for it. Sure Jack and, if you really believe that, I'm the tooth fairy. Of course Canadians (and Jack) rationalize his socialist platform by knowing that the NDP will never be in power, so he will never have to keep his "promises" to wreak havoc on the economy and fabric of Canada.

    A charter member of the "promise anything, even if it doesn't make sense" coalition of also-ran parties, Comrade Jack saw the opportunity to seize power at any cost. I thought that mantra belonged solely to the Liberals but, what the heck. Easy, thought Jack, but he miscalculated ... Canadians remembered his 2008 make-believe election platform and said, "Whoa, wait a minute; these Socialists?". And that was the end of Comrade Jack's grasp for fame,and power.

  5. We should also give thanks that the coalition exposed its real core supporters. The trade unions lead by the CAW, the public service alliances (unions, all of them), the unaccountable $5 billion Kelowna handout-wannabe recipients, the Arts Industry handout specialists, the vested-interest environmentalists (including the deplorable Greens) and, of course, the largest cupped palms in the nation ... the Bloc. It's easy to tell who is behind a coup. Just look at the first goodies handed out at the public trough. In this case the trough feeders bear an uncanny resemblance to the self-serving Think Twice coalition of 2006, in which such luminaries as Buzz and May appeared as charter members.
So there you have it. Our delayed Thanksgiving Hall of Shame. Now, if we could just be sure that all the members of the coalition will slither back into their holes and stay there forever, then we really should give thanks to our god, idol, or wallet.

Dec 12, 2008

Put May Under a Leadership Review

I am utterly dismayed by the lack of meaningful progress of the Green Party of Canada (GPC) since the 2006 election. No, make that appalled by the amount of GPC political and financial capital that had been wasted through the disastrous actions of its leader, Elizabeth May.

When you cheese off a major media newspaper, as May has with the National Post, you know that the leader was a train wreck for the party.

So what is the problem that needs fixing, you might ask? Consider these examples of conduct as symptoms of the problem:

1. Ms. May has had a hate-on for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives for a long time now, going back to her Sierra Club and "Think Twice Coalition" (the last hurrah of Buzz, Maude, and all the other vested interest groups).
"Mr. Harper's politics aren't just a threat to Canada; they're a threat to the planet"
(Just an extract of the hyperbolic Think Twice Press Conference, Jan 17/06 during the 2006 election, I believe)
2. Once a lobbyist and a self-interest proponent, always one. This time Ms. May hijacked the GPC (and its unwitting membership and resources) to continue her hate-on (massively AGAINST something), rather than be FOR the GPC ideals, objectives and platform.
Mike Nagy, Green Candidate, Guelph, "blamed calls for strategic voting for a drop in party support on voting day.

"Elizabeth May called for it on some occasions but the party itself was not calling for strategic voting," Nagy said in an interview ... May once stated she would rather see no Green MPs and the Conservatives out of power than a full caucus with Harper as prime minister.

Nagy, the party's environment critic, also made clear he doesn't back May's call for an anti-Conservative coalition. "I believe you promote Green values and you get Greens elected to Parliament. It's not about trying to stop one party," he said. "There has to be some serious discussion in the party so that we are not compromising our votes for the sake of other parties.""

-------------------------------------------------------------
"... there is significant grumbling over Ms. May's refusal to urge Canadians to vote Green in all ridings". Anouk Hoedeman, who has worked as spokesperson for the Green Party of Ontario and is president of the Green Party riding association in Ottawa Centre, said Mr. Cotter's website speaks to a sense of frustration with Ms. May among some Greens.

“The website is a sign that there is a lot of anger and maybe confusion within the party over the whole strategic voting issue and how that was handled,” Ms. Hoedeman said. The Green candidate in Ottawa Centre finished 39 votes short of 10 per cent.

“This is exactly what we were afraid would happen,” Ms. Hoedeman said. “So from our perspective, the whole strategic voting movement was very damaging. And the mixed messaging that Elizabeth sent out was very, very damaging to our campaign.”

-----------------------------------------------------------

David Chernushenko, who came second to Ms. May in the party's 2006 leadership race and has accused Ms. May of selling out the party, disputes Ms. May's assertion that the media are to blame.

“I've actually listened to the tapes. I've watched her and cringed as there have been words, at the end, following a very clear statement, that: ‘You've got to vote Green, except in ridings where I leave it to the voter to do the right thing.' What in flaming heck is that supposed to mean?”
3. The truth-challenged Ms. May asserts that she is so smart, knows it all, Canadians are so stupid:


4. Ms. May is so mendacious that even the National Post, which championed her inclusion in the Leader Debates, is very, very angry:
" ... In the campaign's final days, Ms. May shamelessly shilled for the Liberals, pleading with voters to cast ballots for Mr. Dion's party if that would stop the Conservatives from being re-elected. She turned her party into a false front for a competitor, in other words. It was a disgraceful move, one that made fools of all those (such as this editorial board) who argued she should be admitted to the televised debates ...".
5. Continuing on Ms. May's stellar performance as a shill for the Liberals:

(First comment here)
"I was at Leadership and was told by many Greens that if we picked Dion they'll support us next time because his cause was the same as the Green cause. Thanks for nothing assholes."
6. And, finally, there's the financial hole that Ms. May and her cabal have left the GPC with, in order to promote her personal hate-on:
"The Green Party ran a $4-million campaign and nearly half of that was borrowed money.

Ms. May said her goal is to get her party out of debt before Christmas so that Greens can start raising money for the next campaign, which she predicted will not be too far off."
Ms. May must have great difficulty balancing her own chequebook. The $1.95/vote/year allotment from the Green's election performance will likely yield about $1.8 million/year to help retire the debt and replenish coffers ... if no money is allocated to running the organization during that period. And if Ms. May believes another election is just around the corner, then she's dangerously delusional. More likely it's just misdirection and hoping that members will focus on her latest and greatest contrived threat, while ignoring her on shabby and unworthy role in the 2008 election debacle.

So What Can Greens Do?

If you don't think that Ms. May is a serious problem for the GPC, or if you disagree with my view then, fine, move along and ignore this blog. That's what is so wonderful about democracy ... you have choices.

But if you are concerned like I am with Ms. May's disastrous "Not A Leader" performance and adoration of everything Stephane Dion-ish and Liberal, and believe that a Leadership Review of her performance and actions is required like every other party does, then what you need to do is send off a petition to party headquarters requesting an "Other General Meeting" (i.e., a special general meeting) to consider this issue.

Because the GPC's constitution really has no other mechanism to conduct a leadership review.

Hmmm. Wonder why!

Calling All Canadian Greens ...

Yes, I realize that Elizabeth May is probably entirely focused on getting a Senate seat now, having shilled so well for the LPC during the last election, but here's some question for her and her crew while she's waiting for her Coalition gravy train to arrive:
  1. Who authorized Ms. May to enter into an agreement with the Liberal Party and/or its (then) leader, Stephane Dion, concerning "cooperation" during the 2008 election, and based on what analysis/proposal?

  2. Where is this agreement, what is its full content, and when will it be made available to the membership for approval/rejection?

  3. Who authorized Ms. May to shill for the Liberal Party in the final days of the 2008 campaign (the infamous "Stop Harper" musings, thinly disguised), and in her latest press pronouncement concerning a "coalition" with one or more other Canadian polical parties?

  4. Why was $4 million ($2 million borrowed) apparently spent to fund a 2008 election campaign that, in the end, amounted to no more than Ms. May shilling votes for the Liberal Party, rather than explaining the Green Platform to Canadian voters and making the GPC a viable political alternative?
Since these shoddy, self-centred tactics of the incompetent May cost the party $1.95/vote, and a reduced share of votes, and some candidates to lose their deposits unnecessarily, and to be perceived by the public and the media as "total kooks and idiots", will these questions ever be answered by executive (Federal Council)?

More importantly, when will the Executive of the Green Party demand that May be forced to defend her deplorable actions in front of a Leadership Review? Or is it time to throw these mismanagers out too?

One could conclude that the Greens have possibly been dealt a fatal blow by May's ill-advised machinations. If so, I call on all Green to get rid of the rot that has weakened their party, and to see what can be done to restore the party to favour again.

Dec 11, 2008

Depressing Separatistes

I just came across an amusing post here, titled "How to Depress a Quebecois Reporter". Most recommended.

As a matter of fact, clicking on the "Archives" link on the left-hand side of that blog will reveal a number of editorials of good sense and perspective.

Dec 9, 2008

How Many Objectives Has The Coalition Achieved?

Discuss:
  1. Has it proposed ANY solutions for solving Canada's reputed economic woes, which was supposedly THE REASON (not the $1.95 elimination, no, never!) for the coalition's existence? Answer bonus: Should Canada/government continue to wait for US/Obama thrusts/impacts to become clearer, or whether Canada with the strongest economy of the G8 should run immediately huge deficits so that we can be seen "doing something", but accomplishing little ... other than making a lot of unionists happy to see Other People's Money coming their way)?

  2. Reducing further any residual value in the "Liberal brand" after the last election? Parameters: continued infighting, distressed members, laughable reaction of the media to the sordid soap opera, current polls, two-faced democracy utterances, accomplished zilch since 2006 to reform the party, etc.

  3. Convincing Canadians that it's democratic for a coalition, with 0% of the votes in the last election, to take down a duly-elected government for selfish self-interests, if not a long-term raid on the public treasury? Answer bonus: How is 38% of the vote for the CPC in 2008 any different than 38% for the Liberals when Chretien won a majority?

  4. "Uniting the Left" by destroying the Liberal party or, alternatively, using a mole to create conditions to merge the Liberal party into a grand party of the Socialist Left (with the Greens folded in or neutered as an added bonus)?

  5. Enhancing the stature of the New Democratic Party, and its chief used-car salesman, Red Jack? Answer bonus: How does $50 billion in tax increases to all businesses in Canada (who employ us, BTW), less $30 billion in new free-for-all spending proposed by the coalition, for a net $20 billion in tax increases, amount to a "stimulus package"?

  6. Regaining control of the Golden Trough in Ottawa?

  7. Putting the government (CPC) on the ropes, and taking it down?

  8. Convincing Canadians that the Bloc/Separatistes are a fine bunch of fellows who wouldn't have effective control over the coalition? Or that it "wouldn't really cost too much to the Canadian taxpayer to keep the Bloc onside to ensure the survival of the coalition, year after year?

  9. Destroying the credibility and/or standing of Stephen Harper and his Conservatives in the public consciousness? Answer bonus: If the government is taken down in the end of January 09 and an election called, how many seats north of a majority will the CPC receive?

  10. How brilliant was it for Stephen Harper to use the $1.95 elimination and public service "share the pain of Canadians" announcement to smoke out the deep-running unholy coalition for all Canadians to see, smell, and reject whole-heartedly? Answer bonus: Should all the so-called pundits and "informed" columnists that declared this tactic to be a "gaffe/horrible mistake" be forced to publicly eat their words, or just be forced to resign from their publications? Grand answer bonus: How does Canada get the media off it's lazy, slanted butts and back into reporting News (not opinion or the latest party PR release), and delving into (for example) how this banana republic conspiracy happened?

  11. Extra Bonus Question: Is the coalition with its sordid collection of self-interests, e.g., trade and public sector unionists, child care advocacy groups, Kelowna handout addicts, climate change voodoo rip-off artists, soon-to-be-enriched carbon tax merchants, lobbyists, etc., well and truly dead now, or will this slimy, greedy bunch of parasites emerge from their holes again in another attempt to subvert democracy under the guise of "saving Canada"?

Start of Fiction: CANADIAN POLITICAL FABLES

Less than two weeks into the Three Stooges circus show, instigators of the most traitorous act in Canadian political history appear to be slithering into their underground holes, hopefully for good, although that can't be certain.

If Bob Rae gives up on his leadership bid this afternoon, the battle for control of the Liberal party by the coalition, and for the party's ideological direction (if not survival) will be over. For the time being. Unfortunately, it is too late for the Green party. Or is it?

This slimy coalition did not mysteriously come together and climb out of its hole around December 1st. The genesis of the attempt to take over the government of Canada started much, much earlier. Not long after Paul Martin and his Liberals were defeated in the 2006 election, a secret meeting took place. The purpose of the meeting was simple and singular. How to remove the Conservatives from power at the earliest opportunity, before their brand and programs "contaminated" the minds of Canadians against tax-and-spend (your money) policies of the other parties.

After all, at stake were increased billions in funding for so-called social programs, all to be administered by more (unionized) civil servants, and delivered by the (unionized) public sector across Canada, and dispensed from the public purse by the ruling party. Adscam would be a drop in the bucket in comparison to this spending strategy.

Also at stake were untold billions to spend in pursuit of a newly created problem/myth, called Global Warming, now called Climate Change because it became apparent that the planet was cooling, not getting warmer. And who could argue with the concept of Climate Change? The climate is always changing. And funds for that boondoggle would almost exclusively flow to coalition-friendly environmentalists, lobbyists and the public sector too. In general, a ramp-up in social engineering and programs, with the taxpayer on the hook as usual. And don't forget Kelowna with its $5 billion pledge in (unaccountable) funds and other boondoggles. After all, it was reasoned, the Group's values are Canadian values! Sound familiar?

One of the issues discussed was the role that the Greens always played in siphoning off votes that were perceived as rightfully belonging to more mainstream left of centre parties. That small problem, it was decided, would be easy to address. The Greens would be the beneficiary of a gift from the group --- a new leader. And so it came to pass that a long time political activist and lobbyist, a former mover and shaker in the union-supported Think Twice (self-interest) coalition, became the new leader of the Green party. Her "anything but Harper" advice to Greens might have worked very well for the coalition in the 2008 election, but for that dratted media who kept questioning how a stance like that would help the Green Party. But I digress.

Primary discussion amongst the group was focused on how to coalesce the left wing parties into a single force to take down Harper and the Conservatives. One of the threads was along the lines that if the Liberals could move a bit to the left, and the NDP to the right ... towards each other, then the genesis of a solution could be found, since the Green party would move any direction it was told. Wouldn't it be nice, they mused, if a champion of this cause were to become leader of the Liberal party at the convention. Cue the inevitable mole-in-waiting, a 50-50 favourite --- good odds it was thought. Cut to the convention, where the unthinkable occurred. Dion was elected leader.

No matter. Within months of Dion assuming the throne, the group knew for sure that Dion controlled neither the party nor its direction, and never would. So the group laid the groundwork for taking down the leader and, as a by-product, severely crippling the Liberal brand. So much easier that way to accommodate assimilation, they chuckled. And so the Liberal party suffered its worst defeat since the 1800's. Everthing was going to plan, they marvelled. Even the Bloc had been brought onside, and was ready to join everyone at the soon-to-be golden trough of power and money.

Except Harper and his crew had been monitoring this conspiracy from afar. Deciding that it was time to unmask the cabal, Harper announced the government's intention to eliminate Elections Canada ($1.95/vote/year) funding of political parties and, for good measure, a few "share the pain" changes in public service salaries. And so the conspiracy was smoked out into public view, earlier than they had wanted, for they had intended to spring their takeover of government and the treasury of golden geese at the very last moment --- when Harper wouldn't have time to react.

The principals in this conspiracy weren't surprised at the vehement public reaction against the Three Stooges Coalition. That's why they had kept it running deep and silently for so long. After all, they reasoned, what could Canadians do when presented with a successful coup. Uprisings aren't in Canadian veins, they knew. Or hoped.

So, with Plan "A" (The Three Stooges) seemingly on the rocks, and with quick polls showing that an early election might not be a great idea from their point of view, the group put Plan "B" into effect. Lie, confuse the public, and sell the coalition. Concurrently, position a former (and disastrous) NDP premier as the greatest man on earth to lead the Liberal party out of its doldrums. Into the waiting jaws of the Borg. Resistance is futile --- you will be assimilated, with the active assistance of insiders.

And that is where this fairy tale pauses. And looks anxiously to how the Liberal Party extricates itself from this trap. For now is the time to barricade the doors and windows, and shut down the electricity that powers this conspiracy. Put differently, choose wisely who you select to lead you after Dion departs this week, and be sure that he or she is not part of the conspiracy.

It's strange that the media has not dug into the genesis of the coalition, and exposed its slimy characters and underpinnings. Shall we put this down to ever-increasing laziness of the mainstream media to wander far from receiving press releases from parties and candidates, rather than engaging in true investigative journalism? No wonder readership is declining at an alarming rate. No one trust the media any more to give them the true story, or value-added.

Oh, is that another press release/rumour/tidbit from the XYZ party in my in-basket? Let's see how I can put my own "analytical" stamp on this piece of BS, and release it as breaking news.

Moral of this fable? If you choose to sleep with a goat, at least one of you is going to be unhappy in the morning.

End of Fiction: Canadian Political Fables

Oh, THAT Economic Crisis?

Has anyone noticed that, with all the federal Liberals firmly gazing at their navels in the self-interest circus called the "Leadership Crisis", that not one second has been devoted to "fixing" the economy by these twits or its slimy coalition partners?

After all, the economy WAS the reason for the Unholy Coalition, wasn't it?

Returning to Blog Again

Now that I have some more time, especially since the slimy coalition of self-interests has surfaced and slithered around, it's time to get back to blogging!

Jun 16, 2008

Faux Libel "Outrage"

From the "I can't believe a twit would say this" category of comments:
"The Conservatives are trying to "shut up the opposition by taking them to court" over the Chuck Cadman affair and could financially cripple the Liberals if the court proceedings drag on, says one political expert.

"It's not only libel chill, this goes at the very heart of the economics of politics," says University of Ottawa professor Michael Behiels"
What. A. Crock.

If a politician stands up in parliament and accuses another member (or party) of doing something or other, he or she is protected by parliamentary privilege. That's why we hear so many nutty accusations, charges, questions and statements from the inmates on Parliament Hill. Anything can be said, subject only to the Speaker's judgment of what is, or is not, "parliamentary".

And the populace, knowing that venues like Question Period are only outlets for parliamentarians (poor) acting ability, generally ignores these antics.

But when a politician steps outside of parliament (senate or house) and makes statements in the public media, he or she is exposed to the law of the land just as you and I would be. If that statement is what an aggrieved party believes to be slander or libel, the aggrieved party can take the utterer to court.

That's what happened with the Liberal party's statements about the Prime Minister. Not only were these statements made outside of parliament in front of the cameras (purely calculated to garner free publicity), they were allegedly made also on the Liberal Party's website.

So, please, don't give me all that guff about "libel chill". If a politician wants to make "questionable" statements, do it within the parliamentary infrastructure, where protection exists. But, if a politician or party knowingly makes (alleged) false or inaccurate statements outside that wall of protection, well ... they have to face the music, just like you and I.

Libel is libel, and no one (especially the Liberal Party) is above the law. And if they don't have the money to defend a libel action, then don't make such accusations in the first place.

I have zero sympathy for Dion and his Agents of Smear. Let them understand that their "entitlements" (that's the way they think) don't extend to being above the law. Let them also learn the principle of being accountable for their own conscious actions.

Jun 14, 2008

If the CPC is Thinking of a Future Agenda ...

Then perhaps the Conservative Party of Canada should start thinking about representing the interests of ordinary Canadians, rather that just the interests of big business or, more succinctly, the interests of American business.

1. Codify the rights of ordinary Canadians in a new Copyright Act. As their draft now stands, it trashes our rights. For a starting point, maybe something along the lines of my previous post?

2. Explicitly protect ordinary Canadians when monopoly conditions (pseudo or actual) exist, such as:

- strange that Westjet and Air Canada fares are within a few cents of each other, when the two have dissimilar cost structures? And how about a Canadian Travellers' Bill of Rights addressing flight cancellations, delays, baggage allowances, lost luggage, snotty service?

- when your only wired telephone company, cable TV provider, internet provider is a single company in town and has no incentive to be competitive or improve service offerings?

- when you only have one natural gas provider on your street; moreover, why does natural gas go up lockstep in price with oil? Did their discovery, transmission, etc., costs change?

3. Move quickly to make clear in Human Rights legislation that free speech is a right, not a whim to be ignored by the kangaroo-courts style antics of so-called Human Rights Tribunals. Why not abolish the tribunals, turn the job of enforcement over to the courts where the rule of law actually exists (rathered than ignored), and where the playing field (costs, evidence, burden of prooof, etc.) is levelled for the complainant and the respondent?

4. Quickly mandate where tasers can be used, the circumstances, and usage guidelines. Not to mention automatic liability of those who ignore or disobey the legislation!

5. Restore the Freedom of Information process which has been trashed since the Conservatives got into power. Delays, exclusions, waffling, etc., are the hallmarks of the "new Conservative government", rather than the more open and transparent government that they promised in their platform and during the last election. When revising the legislation, put stiff personal financial and prison penalties into it to address foot-dragging, exceeding permissible time limits, etc., by anyone, bureaucrats and ministerial (incl. staff) alike!

6. Start putting mandatory, non-negotiable minimum sentences into crime legislation, especially crimes involving firearms. Also consider a minimum of 75% of sentence serving before eligible for parole.

7. Establish an on-the-spot complaints/resolution/escalation process for travellers harassed by process-focussed, ill-trained and ill-supervised security yahoos at airports. Who in our federal government is actually responsible and accountable for the antics of these yahoos, anyway?

8. Actually DO SOMETHING about telemarketers and e-mail spam! Implement immediately do-not-call, do-not-email legislation and lists on the basis that you have to opt-in explicitly to receive this crap. By the way, if you want to opt out of junkmail delivered by Canada Post, you will also miss notices from your municipality about garbage collection calendars, town meeting, etc. Surely to God you can fix this up, Harper. Right now the supposed "opt out service" is a sham, one written to cater 100% to the needs of business, while screwing oredinary Canadians 100% also.

This would be a start. Harper, feel free to use any of these points. I couldn't give a rat's posterior about attribution!

If you can't stand up for ordinary Canadians, Harper, then you and your cohorts deserve to be turfed from office!

The Copyright Bill: A Complete Sellout

I've looked at the draft legislation and, along with comments on the web, have come to the conclusion that it's a complete sellout of the rights of Canadians. If not a betrayal and a big PR lie.

Let me state what I think the CPC should consider the RIGHT of all Canadians, and which the CPC should embody in any copyright legislation:

1. To be able to buy software, music and movies and whatnot in any form, whether on paper, film, , CD, DVD, downloaded, etc., and be able to do what they want with it subject to limitation on copies to third parties, etc. To be clearer, we should be able to legally use purchased/licensed material in any format WE want, at any time and for any duration WE want, anywhere WE want, no matter what suppressive "conditions" are arbitrarily imposed by the seller/provider.

These "conditions" can be implicit, covering the case where (for example) legally purchased and downloaded music can only be played in an Apple device.

2. To be able to legally circumvent "locks", EULAs, shrink wrap gotchas, website conditions and their ilk, in order to achieve point one above. In other words, if sellers or makers of these media put in a lock or EULA condition to prevent the point one "prime directive" (a.k.a. fundamental user right) from being achieved, then we would be legislatively permitted to over-ride or destroy these punitive locks. As a corollary, writers/creators of lock circumvention technology would be protected legally. The central point is that the RIGHTS of Canadians trump "conditions". Not the other way around, as is the case with the current despicable draft conjured up by the Conservatives. "Worse than the U.S. DMCA?" Yes, you bet! In spades.

3. To have Net Neutrality. More clearly, to put an end to ISP, carrier and backbone provider discrimination of traffic type. If some people are purportedly using a disproportionate share of bandwidth, then charge them more for that usage. Don't penalize everyone else! It makes me furious to use a Torrent to download the latest copy of openSuse Linux, a free and GPL piece of software, and then see it reduced to a crawl because, in the tiny little minds at Bell and other carriers, "Torrent = Stealing/Illegal activity".

4. Nail anyone who illegally copies, downloads or otherwise "steals" software, music, movies, etc. That part of the proposed legislation I can support whole-heartedly, although the Conservatives either lie or fudge when they use their $500 "penalty" in press releases or talking points. This is because they "conveniently" forget to mention coverage or applicability of other (much higher $) legislation that pertains to some parts of the Copyright Bill. Better still, the CPC bill should make clear that these other pieces of legislation either apply, or explicitly (by amendment there) do not apply.

5. Canadians should have the explicit right to back up their legally-acquired media, at any time, in any format, on any media. You should not be forced to pay again for music (or software, etc.) that you already own because of a hard disk crash, or you bought a new computer, or a format (think of VCRs or, for a bigger joke, the Betamax format) went the route of the Dodo bird. If you have the right to back up, you can restore that digital data to another device of yours, any time, no limitation.

As an aside I hope this would put an end to the odious practice of companies like Microsoft who limit the number of changes you make to your PC before your MS operating system becomes "invalid" and you are forced to buy another copy of their crap. If, over the years, you want to upgrade your motherboard, memory, hard drive, etc., you shouldn't have to pay another tax to corporations like Microsoft, let alone more PST and GST to our "consumer supportive" --- NOT!) Canadian government(s).

6. Suppliers (creators, sellers, re-sellers, agents et al) of software, music, movies, etc., should be explicitly forced to agree that the media and content they are providing does not encumber the purchaser/licensor, is fit and in an operable (merchantable) state, does not contain trojans, rootkits, spyware, virii, and other types of malware, and the installation or use of the product will not disclose any personal or identifying information to anyone, including the supplier or its agents, etc. The Act should also contain great penalties (jail and monetary, theoverwhelming majority of the latter paid to users, in addition to administrative penalties to the government) for any Supplier breaking these conditions.

That is the extent of my thinking now on the matter of the highly-deceptive "balanced" copyright draft legislation foisted on Canadians by a mendacious CPC government.

It's also my bottom line. If the Conservative government fails to put in these most elementary and basic rights for all Canadian users, we should have no hesitation to cast them out of office.

Because if they don't represent the views of ordinary Canadians, and translate that into legislative support, then we really don't want them governing, do we? After all, they also refuse to step in to stop the erosion of our free speech rights by so-called "Human Rights" tribunals throughout Canada, don't they?

Jun 12, 2008

Betrayed and Deceived

Canadians, you have just been screwed royally by the Conservatives.

Prentice of the (Conservative) government tabled Bill C-61, the new Copyright Act, today. Almost simultaneously I received a canned e-mail from him, possibly in response to my own e-mail to him some time ago, essentially touting the "balanced" nature of this draft legislation.

Hogwash. Balderdash. Disingenious and, possibly, nothing but a bald-faced lie.

Users rights (that's me, you, consumers, etc.) are trashed. The music and entertainment suits get everything they want, and more. The proposed legislation is much, much worse than the infamous Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA) of the United States. And if there ever was a sellout of consumer rights, that was one of biblical proportions!

Essentially, you and I have been screwed over by the Conservative. Sold out. Down the river.

Want to have the right to make a back up of your legally purchased movie or music on a DVD or Blu-ray? Sorry. That's explicitly criminal now under Bill C-61. Buy another copy instead, and enrich Prentice's new found American friends again.

Want to copy that "proprietary" song or video that you purchased from Apple on to your non-proprietary iPod-like device, or your own computer? Sorry, you will now be a criminal according to the Conservative's Bill C-61. And you can pay again for the pleasure of watching or listening again to something you already own.

Want to send your computer to that great boneyard in the sky and get a new one, and be able to copy the music and videos that you legally own to your new computer? Sorry, that's a criminal act under Bill C-61. Go out and buy (once again) the music or videos that you already own.

Did your hard drive just crash, taking all your years of legally purchased, expensive music and videos with it? Oh, you bought another hard drive and just want to restore (from backup) all the material that you already paid for? Sorry, that's illegal too. Go out and spend thousands again. Enrich those wonderful corporations, usually Americans, that the Conservatives have sucked up to so totally.

Could Prentice, Harper and the rest of the Conservatives have created a more one-sided, son-of-U.S. DMCA Copyright Act? I doubt it. Fair Use rights ignored. Consumers and users rights trashed. A sell out to the Americans.

And, the gall to even suggest that Bill C-61 is a "balanced" bill. On top of which Prentice cherry picks any "protection" that might be in it for the user/consumer.

For example, aren't you glad to know that you can legally make copies of your VCR tapes that you own? But not DVDs and newer storage media. Hellooooo, Prentice. Who the hell makes copies of VCR tapes, for God's sake. Who even has any more of these lying around?

Listen up, dummy. you are going to have to do better than using "you can copy VCR tapes" as an example of "balance" in legislation.

Harper, Prentice et al: Either let this legislation die on the Order Paper, or withdraw it. Then, get real and start doing what we elected you to do. Actually read all the submissions that Geist and other "average Canadians" have already made to you. Start representing all the interests of all Canadians. Not just the interests of American suits. And, for God's sake, stop sucking up to Americans. It's so demeaning seeing you in that awkward position!

Disclosure: I am a long-time, die-hard Conservative supporter. No more. I don't like being lied to, being ignored, and being used as cannon fodder just so that Harper can be lap dog to George Bush.

Remember the Income Trust betrayal! I'm still many $$$'s in the hole from that Conservative "promise".

Remember the Vancouver Taser Incident and the "I'm running away from my responsibility to protect Canadians" attitude and response of Stockwell Day. Even today, he's delaying publication of the report from that incident. Liars, toadies and cowards!

And don't forget that it was Keith Martin, a Liberal, who introduced and amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act so that all Canadians can get back our right to free speech, that has been trashed, trampled and ignored by "human rights tribunals" across Canada. Not the Conservative Party.

And don't forget that it is the NDP that is putting forth a motion to protect air (and I hope other) travellers from being treated like cattle to be milked by Canadian carriers. Not the Conservative Party.

Who the hell are the Conservatives "protecting" and serving? Not me and you. Just big business. Time and time again.

May 17, 2008

The Cheney/Bush Axis of Domestic Evil

As an outsider looking at America, I have nothing but pity for what the Cheney/Bush axis of evil has accomplished in eight short years.
  • Committed America to a war that cannot be won, that has no exit strategy, that is hugely expensive, and that has seemingly rewarded only private interests and corporations. Think of what $150 billion (or a lot less) per year could do for universal medicare in the U.S.

  • Almost completely destroyed America's mantle of democracy in the world, and placed its citizens at much greater risk when travelling outside the U.S. And made the President the laughing stock of the world.

  • Systematically shredded rights, freedoms and liberties of ordinary Americans in the name of "national security", while selling off consumer and taxpayer needs to the highest proprietary corporate donor and special interest PAC.

  • Left a legacy of crippling debt and probable higher taxes to future generations, all accomplished during a decade of unprecedented prosperity in America during which greed developed into a highly desirable attribute. And much of this debt is held by nations, corporations and people who are not friends of the U.S.

  • Utterly destroyed respect for laws. Illegal immigration is now acceptable and desirable in the eyes of the government, if it means re-election on the backs of these grateful illegals. Illegals are entitled to more benefits than hard-working, native-born citizens. Is there something wrong with this picture?

  • Turned the Art of Lying into a constant stream of mis-speaks, and turned up the volume. If you can't expect the Administration and its Secretaries to tell the truth, isn't the political process completely broken?

  • Transformed the American media into mere mouthpieces and unquestioning shills for suspect administration policies and actions.

  • Convincingly demonstrated either gross incompetency or indifference in the New Orleans disaster, as if incompetent prosecution of a never-ending Vietnam-style war in Iraq weren't enough proof.
I suspect that history will show a hugh cast of characters responsible for this eight-year debacle, including self-interested Senators and Representatives, a wily and manipulative Vice-President, and a thoroughly brain-dead and incompetent president.

Of course, I may be wrong, but ...

Perhaps it's time for America to consider another form of democracy, along the lines of a parliamentary system of government. With more than two parties. And the ability to force dissolution and elect a new government when it fails to follow the wishes and morals of its constituents (ordimary Americans) rather than corporations and the military-industrial-oil axis of greed..

May 14, 2008

Dion: Mendacity or Stupidity?

A truly excellent post by Lorrie Goldstein in the Toronto Sun today.

Dealing with Dion's proposal for a "revenue-neutral" Carbon Tax, the article really gets you wondering if:
  1. Dion has actually thought this out; or
  2. Dion is a blithering idiot, or thinks that we are.
Recommended reading. Especially for when Liberal canvassers arrive at your doorstep during the next election!

Apr 30, 2008

Send Our Money - Save the C.A.W.

Chris Buckley, president of Canadian Auto Workers, Local 222 wants "our Canadian government to get up off their asses and start to give some attention to our declining auto industry". Great idea. And how does he propose that the Canadian government do this?

Well, Mr. Buckley wants the government to control "rising fuel costs, a higher dollar, and "unfair" trade practices that allow foreign-made cars into Canada, while permitting very few into Asian markets". And, unspoken of course, to spend more of your and my money to subsidize a poorly-managed North American auto industry and its well-paid, unyielding auto workers.

The federal government can not control oil prices any more than it can control the petulant and greedy outburst of an ignorant (or purposefully deceptive) local union leader. Nor can it control, in other than a minor manner, the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar. This isn't China or Cuba or any other of the dictatorship-driven economies of the world.

And to suggest that Asian countries and consumers are erecting trade barriers rather than rejecting shoddily created and gas-guzzling C.A.W. manufactured cars is a bit rich, even for a self-centred individual such as Mr. Buckley.

The C.A.W. is doing its regular play-acting, ignoring the fact that there's a contraction in consumer spending in North American because of the recession, that people are shedding the gas-guzzling pickup trucks that Mr. Buckley's members make. Of course, Mr. Buckley doesn't mention that.

It wouldn't help his cause which is, pure and simple (disregarding the high dollar, trade barrier, etc., crap) all about money ... more of yours and mine to spend suporting high wages, early retirements, generous sick leave and other "rights and entitlements" of C.A.W. workers.

Mr. Buckley, it's time to look inside your own house and clean it up. When you have done that, then hold another press conference and let us know what you and your members have done to fully mitigate the uncompetitiveness of your wages and benefits against a well run competition.

After all, isn't there a monumental hole in your logic when off-shore companies are BUILDING new plants and capacity in Ontario, at a time when your workers are supposedly "suffering"? How about getting off YOUR ass, Buckley? People are buying more and more of the competition's cars. The Big Three have continually lost market share over the past two decades, and continue to do so, because they make crappy cars that no one wants. Stick that in your ear, Buckley!

You all enjoyed the good life and ever-increasing wages when times were bountiful and demand high because competition was negligible. We have no intent to support this acquired lifestyle when times are bad. Make your sacrifices, then we can talk. In fact, why not work partner-wise with the auto companies to make products which consumers want? That new high powered and gas-guzzling Mustang car is just what people want right now, eh?

Stop whining and shut up. Make the changes that are really needed. And don't you and Buzz dare come back for another hand out until you do.

Apr 27, 2008

Brenda Martin - The Whiners

The Mexican judge handed out a 5-year sentence to Ms. Martin, plus a $3,500 (equivalent) fine.

The paperwork to extricate Martin out of Mexico to serve her sentence in Canada obviously takes a lot of work and time. But this didn't stop her rabid supporters, including the usual federal Liberal stooges, from mouthing off about the Canadian government dragging its feet.

However, not one of her "humanitarian-oriented" supporters stepped forward to offer to pay all or a portion of the fine, a condition necessary to discharge her from Mexican custody. Not even Liberal McTeague, one of the many who made this "foot-dragging" accusation.

So it falls to the government and the people of Canada, again, to pay for this humanitarian guesture via a Distressed Canadian Citizen advance/loan.

Which only proves that there's nothing so free as Other People's Money committed by do-gooders, Liberals, and these wonderful "humanitarians".

Scum. All of them.

Feb 5, 2008

The Rape of Yahoo!

So Microsoft has made an offer for Yahoo! equivalent to $31 per share. Big deal. NOT.

Yahoo's interests in two Asian properties are worth perhaps $12 per share. So Microsoft would get Yahoo! for a net of $19 per share, at a time when Yahoo! is at a low point ... management turmoil and firings, a very disappointing quarter, an aggressive competitor (Google) eating more of its lunch each day, general stock market uncertainty, and the prospect of a recession.

As an "investment", all Microsoft would have to do (if the deal goes through) is put in some half-decent management, tough it out until sunnier days, and then sell Yahoo! at a hell of a profit ... as one or several pieces.

Microsoft may well have this as their "can't lose" bottom line. Their principal objective, though, is to become "#2" overnight, take whatever is better in Yahoo! and use it (including patents), put a stop to open source usage and support in Yahoo!, and possibly siphon search and advertising revenues.

Microsoft's evolution of it's "Live" services doesn't need Yahoo! ... it just needs more time ... perhaps a lot of time, given Google's astounding pace of product development and deployment. And in most, if not all, areas Microsoft and Yahoo! have equivalent product offering, e.g., mail, messaging, portal, search, etc. So unless Microsoft is thinking about making a Great Leap Forward by poaching superior implementations of equivalent products from Yahoo!, this deal doesn't make sense in a conventional way.

No, it's about search and related revenues, with a can't lose value proposition tossed in as well. And #2 (really an "also ran") as a bragging point in a battle between two competitors.

For Yahoo and its (panicky and/or greedy) shareholders, it's a rape job. For Yahoo! employees, it's a constant stream of pink slips.

Smart/predatory company, Microsoft. That's all.

Update: If true, Microsoft could cause a world of hurt for Google by acquiring Yahoo.

Jan 23, 2008

Delusions and Thinking Caps for Politicians

Courtesy of the Daily Reckoning, the following is worth a read by Canadians, even though it is written with an American perspective:

DISARRAY
by James Howard Kunstler

The dark tunnel that the U.S. economy has entered began to look more and more like a black hole recently, sucking in lives, fortunes, and prospects behind a Potemkin facade of orderly retreat put up by anyone in authority with a story to tell or an interest to protect - Fed chairman Bernanke, CNBC, The New York Times, the Bank of America… Events are now moving ahead of anything that personalities can do to control them.

The "housing bubble" implosion is broadly misunderstood. It's not just the collapse of a market for a particular kind of commodity, it's the end of the suburban pattern itself, the way of life it represents, and the entire economy connected with it. It's the crack up of the system that America has invested most of its wealth in since 1950. It's perhaps most tragic that the mis-investments only accelerated as the system reached its end, but it seems to be nature's way that waves crest just before they break.

This wave is breaking into a sea-wall of disbelief. Nobody gets it. The psychological investment in what we think of as American reality is too great. The mainstream media doesn't get it, and they can't report it coherently. None of the candidates for president has begun to articulate an understanding of what we face: the suburban living arrangement is an experiment that has entered failure mode.

I maintain that all the "players" - from the bankers to the politicians to the editors to the ordinary citizens - will continue to not get it as the disarray accelerates and families and communities are blown apart by economic loss. Instead of beginning the tough process of making new arrangements for everyday life, we'll take up a campaign to sustain the unsustainable old way of life at all costs.

A reader sent me a passel of recent clippings last week from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It contained one story after another about the perceived need to build more highways in order to maintain "economic growth" (and incidentally about the "foolishness" of public transit). I understood that to mean the need to keep the suburban development system going, since that has been the real main source of the Sunbelt's prosperity the past 60-odd years. They cannot imagine an economy that is based on anything besides new subdivisions, freeway extensions, new car sales, and NASCAR spectacles. The Sunbelt, therefore, will be ground-zero for all the disappointment emanating from this cultural disaster, and probably also ground-zero for the political mischief that will ensue from lost fortunes and crushed hopes.

From time-to-time, I feel it's necessary to remind readers what we can actually do in the face of this long emergency. Voters and candidates in the primary season have been hollering about "change" but I'm afraid the dirty secret of this campaign is that the American public doesn't want to change its behavior at all. What it really wants is someone to promise them they can keep on doing what they're used to doing: buying more stuff they can't afford, eating more bad food that will kill them, and driving more miles than circumstances will allow.

Here's what we better start doing.

Stop all highway-building altogether. Instead, direct public money into repairing railroad rights-of-way. Put together public-private partnerships for running passenger rail between American cities and towns in between. If Amtrak is unacceptable, get rid of it and set up a new management system. At the same time, begin planning comprehensive regional light-rail and streetcar operations.

End subsidies to agribusiness and instead direct dollar support to small-scale farmers, using the existing regional networks of organic farming associations to target the aid. (This includes ending subsidies for the ethanol program.)

Begin planning and construction of waterfront and harbor facilities for commerce: piers, warehouses, ship-and-boatyards, and accommodations for sailors. This is especially important along the Ohio-Mississippi system and the Great Lakes.

In cities and towns, change regulations that mandate the accommodation of cars. Direct all new development to the finest grain, scaled to walkability. This essentially means making the individual building lot the basic increment of redevelopment, not multi-acre "projects." Get rid of any parking requirements for property development. Institute "locational taxation" based on proximity to the center of town and not on the size, character, or putative value of the building itself. Put in effect a ban on buildings in excess of seven stories. Begin planning for district or neighborhood heating installations and solar, wind, and hydro-electric generation wherever possible on a small-scale network basis.

We'd better begin a public debate about whether it is feasible or desirable to construct any new nuclear power plants. If there are good reasons to go forward with nuclear, and a consensus about the risks and benefits, we need to establish it quickly. There may be no other way to keep the lights on in America after 2020.

We need to prepare for the end of the global economic relations that have characterized the final blow-off of the cheap energy era. The world is about to become wider again as nations get desperate over energy resources. This desperation is certain to generate conflict. We'll have to make things in this country again, or we won't have the most rudimentary household products.

We'd better prepare psychologically to downscale all institutions, including government, schools and colleges, corporations, and hospitals. All the centralizing tendencies and gigantification of the past half-century will have to be reversed. Government will be starved for revenue and impotent at the higher scale. The centralized high schools all over the nation will prove to be our most frustrating mis-investment. We will probably have to replace them with some form of home-schooling that is allowed to aggregate into neighborhood units. A lot of colleges, public and private, will fail as higher ed ceases to be a "consumer" activity. Corporations scaled to operate globally are not going to make it. This includes probably all national chain "big box" operations. It will have to be replaced by small local and regional business. We'll have to reopen many of the small town hospitals that were shuttered in recent years, and open many new local clinic-style health-care operations as part of the greater reform of American medicine.

Take a time-out from legal immigration and get serious about enforcing the laws about illegal immigration. Stop lying to ourselves and stop using semantic ruses like calling illegal immigrants "undocumented."

Prepare psychologically for the destruction of a lot of fictitious "wealth" - and allow instruments and institutions based on fictitious wealth to fail, instead of attempting to keep them propped up on credit life-support. Like any other thing in our national life, finance has to return to a scale that is consistent with our circumstances - i.e., what reality will allow. That process is underway, anyway, whether the public is prepared for it or not. We will soon hear the sound of banks crashing all over the place. Get out of their way, if you can.

Prepare psychologically for a sociopolitical climate of anger, grievance, and resentment. A lot of individual citizens will find themselves short of resources in the years ahead. They will be very ticked off and seek to scapegoat and punish others. The United States is one of the few nations on earth that did not undergo a sociopolitical convulsion in the past hundred years. But despite what we tell ourselves about our specialness, we're not immune to the forces that have driven other societies to extremes. The rise of the Nazis, the Soviet terror, the "cultural revolution," the holocausts and genocides - these are all things that can happen to any people driven to desperation.

Regards,

James Howard Kunstler
for The Daily Reckoning

(The Daily Reckoning) Editor's Note: James Kunstler has worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, and finally as a staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975, he dropped out to write books on a full-time basis.

His latest nonfiction book, The Long Emergency describes the changes that American society faces in the 21st century. Discerning an imminent future of protracted socioeconomic crisis, Kunstler foresees the progressive dilapidation of subdivisions and strip malls, the depopulation of the American Southwest, and, amid a world at war over oil, military invasions of the West Coast; when the convulsion subsides, Americans will live in smaller places and eat locally grown food.

You can purchase your own copy here:

The Long Emergency

You can get more from James Howard Kunstler - including his artwork, information about his other novels, and his blog - at his website.