Thursday, May 31, 2012

Outrage fatigue

Ever since the grotesque budget bill came down, we've been going through the Stages of Outrage -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
Every time I read another story about the Harper Con's budget bill -- AKA The End Of Canada As We Know It -- I get more and more upset about what they think they're doing, what gives them the right, how dare they...
Well, I guess they think they were elected to dismantle everything that any of the Conservative voters ever complained about, and they're going to do it just as fast as they can, as far under the radar as they can get, without consulting anyone or even telling anyone what they're doing, and they think they have the right because 40 per cent of Canadians voted for them.  So they're changing Old Age Security and employment Insurance, breaking federal unions, silencing agencies and charities that say or do things they don't like, throwing out 300,000 immigration applications, and emasculating environmental assessment, while also giving government ministers (read: the Prime Minister's Office) the authority to do all sorts of things in secret that used to be done openly, like decide whether charities can issue tax receipts, or determine who gets to enter the country.
The latest news is that the budget bill also abolishes the requirement that federal contractors pay "fair wages" -- ie, equivalent to what unionized trades would receive.  So we can also wave goodbye to the construction trade unions.
I have reached Outrage Fatigue zombie level six.
The good news is, our parliamentarians are getting more polite -- now that's real progress, isn't it?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Collective bullying

I don't know why any unionized, federally-regulated employer would bother to negotiate in good faith with their unions anymore -- if anybody goes on strike, the Harper Conservatives just legislate them back to work, to "protect the economy."  Well, somehow the economy managed to survive before these guys came along.  Now, not so much...


Friday, May 25, 2012

What they don't understand about EI

Here's what the Harper Conservatives don't understand about many EI frequent flyers:
It's not the workers that EI is subsidizing.
Its the industry they work in.
Activities like commercial fishing, vegetable and fruit growers, small-scale manufacturing, mining -- they all have grown to depend on EI to keep an experienced workforce nearby and available throughout the year.  The industry doesn't have to try to pay these workers during annual down-times, because EI will.
Here's what some of these employers are saying about the new EI rules:
. . . farmers are not looking forward to being the staging ground for Ottawa’s new social experiment, they say. They worry that years spent moulding unwilling neighbours into farmers — more a coaching gig than a business model — will put them in the red and even shut them down.
. . .  One Valley workforce available in the summer is winter lobster boat crew members who work in the Bay of Fundy. . . . About 95 per cent of the association’s roughly 520 members use EI seasonally, Hudson said. The spread between the seasons is too long for them to live off savings, and there are about seven weeks of work needed each off-season to prepare boats and equipment for the next year.
. . . Webster [fruit grower] started using seasonal migrant labour in 2010 and brought in 16 Mexican workers last year. . . . Webster, whose core employees go on EI for about four months of the year, said he’s afraid his business will pay the biggest price in next year’s dry run.
UPDATE: This also raises the larger question -- do the Harper Conservatives actually understand the Canadian economy they are trying to manage? There's a lot of talk about "not picking winners and losers" and "standing on our own feet" but the Canadian economy, in many sectors, is never going to be competitive on an international scale -- nobody here can beat the California growers, with their two or three vegetable crops a year and their easy access to thousands of migrant workers. Nobody here can beat the Florida and Louisiana fishing industries, with the whole gulf coast to harvest all year long. Nobody here can beat the mega-farms of the American mid-west, with plenty of transport options to large ports that are open year-round. The Liberals understood this -- they instituted all sorts of under-the-radar measures which subsidized our smaller-scale and less competitive Canadian industrial and agricultural producers.
Who then turned around and voted Conservative because they were successful businessmen who didn't need any gol-durned government handouts, no siree bob!  
Canada under the Harper Cons will be a bleaker and ultimately less productive place.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I expect a clusterf*ck

Does anyone want to bet me that when the Harper Cons finally get around to announcing the new Employment Insurance rules, they won't be a total clusterf*ck?
This is the gang who can't shoot straight. They've already messed up the census, Old Age Security, Parks Canada, Aboriginal organizations, arts funding, gay pride parades, etc etc.
After several years of underfunding the EI bureaucracy to the point that hundreds of thousands of people already can't get their claims processed and can't even get a phone call answered, they're going to expect overworked EI staff to implement some poorly-written, punative and inequitable new rules that haven't gone through any review or vetting process to make sure they make sense, and for which the computer programming isn't going to be completed either.
It's going to be chaos across the nation.
 Food banks and the Sally Ann better gear up.  Landlords and banks had better get ready for thousands of people not able to pay their rent or their loans or their credit card bills because their EI cheques aren't arriving.  
Oh, and I have to ask once again -- whatever happened to the $57 billion EI surplus that we accumulated when Paul Martin was prime minister?

Some fun now

So Conrad Black's delicate fee-fees are hurt because Thomas Mulcair referred to him as a "British criminal".
I guess the truth hurts, doesn't it.
See, I told you this would be fun.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

G20 Justice

OK, here's how it should be.
Those 30 police officers who apparently are going to be charged for the police riot that was the G20? First, kick them in the face.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced Friday a retired judge will hear misconduct charges against police offers, stemming from the G20 clashes of two years ago. (CP / Staff / File)
Then scoop them up off the street and bus them to a wire cage in a warehouse, ziptied,  and let them sit there for a day without much water or food.  Laugh at them and ignore any of their requests for help.
Then, take half of them and drive them to Scarborough and abandon them there in the middle of the night without any money to make their own way home somehow.
Then, for the other half, keep them in jail.  After a few weeks, take them to court one by one, for bail hearings. But don't let them actually see a judge. No, let their continued detention be decided by a Justice of the Peace who apparently will believe everything said by the prosecutors about how awful they are.
Then, if they do get bail, make sure it is it very restrictive house arrest, and don't allow them to talk to any of the other officers involved, and make sure other police are hanging around outside their houses all the time to "monitor" everything they are doing, just as if they were some kind of terrorists.
Then, after a year or so of this, let them have their trial.
And, after two years, release a report on how they were treated.
Now, that would be G20 justice.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Oops, sorry

Canadian Press has "corrected" its bullsh*t story about how Paul Martin's government was more secretive than Harper's is:
"The story's claim that Commons committees during Martin's majority of February to May 2004 spent the most time meeting in camera is thus erroneous, as are other rankings in the story."
Gee, don't drown us in detail, CP!
This retraction will, I'm sure, make the same headline news across Canada as the original story did.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Too many secrets

When I read this story about how Paul Martin's Liberals supposedly had "more" secret meetings than the Harper Cons I thought, "this is probably bullsh*t" but I didn't know how to prove it.
Thanks, Kady
Thus far, I've not heard a single Conservative MP make the claim that the Liberal government was just as heavy-handed when it came to squelching debate during the days when they held the majority at committee. Given the increasing criticism that this government has faced for doing so, you'd think that at least one veteran from the Reform/Canadian Alliance/pre-2004 Conservative days might have thought to mention it.
As for the New Democrats, while no formal survey has been undertaken, those who have experienced opposition life under past majorities have made it clear that the current practice -- wherein government members automatically move to clear the room when an opposition member attempts to put forward a motion for debate -- is, as far as they can recall, unprecedented.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Step program

14 Steps That Will Evolve Your Views On Gay Marriage  Here's the one I liked the best:  imagine how stupid you'll look in 40 years
Step 3: Imagine how stupid you'll look in 40 years.

Stop, children, what's that sound

I think there's something happening here. What it is, not exactly clear.
But the Montreal Gazette has scored a major interview with one of the leaders of Anonymous who is hiding out in Montreal from the FBI.
He calls himself Commander X and he makes some powerful observations:
There’s a really good argument at this point that we might well be the most powerful organization on Earth. The entire world right now is run by information. Our entire world is being controlled and operated by tiny invisible 1s and 0s that are flashing through the air and flashing through the wires around us. So if that’s what controls our world, ask yourself who controls the 1s and the 0s? It’s the geeks and computer hackers of the world. . .
In Syria and Tunisia, Libya, Egypt in Nigeria in the Ivory Coast, we have saved so many lives I can’t even count – activists and journalists and bloggers and people who come to us to keep themselves safe in these extremely hostile environments – and I’m unwilling to lay that kind of work down. . . .
“Information terrorist” – what a funny concept. That you could terrorize someone with information. But who’s terrorized? Is it the common people reading the newspaper and learning what their government is doing in their name? They’re not terrorized – they’re perfectly satisfied with that situation. It’s the people trying to hide these secrets, who are trying to hide these crimes. The funny thing is every email database that I’ve ever been a part of stealing, from President. Assad to Stratfor security, every email database, every single one has had crimes in it. Not one time that I’ve broken into a corporation or a government, and found their emails and thought, “Oh my God, these people are perfectly innocent people, I made a mistake.”. . .
Wherever I go, whether Oakland, San Francisco, Montreal … I see the same stuff. I see people rising up demanding justice and these brutal, paramilitary police departments being used to crush them and sure, I get involved
Anonymous may be more effective than we realize -- for one thing, the online surveillance bill that Anonymous didn't like now seems to have disappeared.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Let's see more journalists shutting down political "spokespeople" like this who can't defend their candidate so they attack the press instead:

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The right side of history

I've said before, we usually don't get to choose the battle, we only get to choose our side. I'm glad to see Obama chose the right side today.
In Canada, Paul Martin showed true leadership when he described how his own support for gay marriage had evolved following the Supreme Court ruling.  Now Obama is showing Americans how they also can change their thinking:
. . . over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

One year

I missed posting on the one-year anniversary but Steve didn't:
This majority is Harper in his full glory. The bully with no regard for democracy, the authoritarian right wing ideologue in the pocket of narrow economic interests, prone to low rent tactics that forever undermine any level of civil discourse, this is Canada under this "regime". There is nothing to endorse here, an embarrassing episode in Canadian history which future generations will shake their heads at
Save this column -- it's going in my "I love the Internets" list.  It will take a few years, I think, but someday all of Canada will see the Harper Conservatives as clearly as Steve does now.

We are all Guy Fawkes now

Oh, those darn "civil libertarians" are at it again!
But civil libertarians are concerned that the legislation will give police the power to break up peaceful protests, which are frequently filled with people in costumes, masks or even face paint that could be construed as concealing identity under the new law.
Why are they being so mean to the police?  Of course our police would only use this new legislation to protect innocent businesses from those awful Black Bloc people.  They wouldn't ever use it against the rest of us, I'm sure.

I'll Have Another

I love watching horse races, especially when an unknown comes out of the pack and wins, like the Canadian-owned California horse I'll Have Another, ridden by a rookie jockey in the Kentucky Derby 2012:

And yes, I'd like to have another, at the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Yes, bring them in

I couldn't agree more with this article if I had written it myself.
When immigrants arrive, they not only fill gaps in the work force but pay taxes and spend money on housing, transport and consumer goods. Productive capacity increases and there is a ripple effect across the economy. And studies show that their offspring tend to be among the country's best-educated and initiative-taking young people.
Yes, exactly.
I keep hearing wailing and gnashing of teeth about how our pensions and social services are unsustainable as us baby boomers retire.  What tripe!  Canada can easily import all the future taxpayers we will ever need, and they'll make our country better, too:
Evelyna Prochorow, 21, came from Kazakhstan by way of what her family found a crowded, unwelcoming Germany. She was 8, the sixth of 13 children, and barely spoke a word of English. A decade later, she graduated near the top of her high-school class. She is a broker at Harvest Insurance, her sister is a legal assistant nearby, and the evangelical church that is dear to them is here (with more under construction). Unlike many small-town Canadians her age, Ms. Prochorow has no desire to be anywhere else.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Why would anyone think that a man as cowardly as Mitt Romney should be president of the United States?
Also, what John Cole says -- why any gay person would support the Republicans is beyond me, too.

Just a barrel of laughs

Oh, why not let Conrad Black come back to Canada? We could do worse and we need the comic relief -- think of how much fun we'll have skewering his pompous OpEds!