Monday, April 28, 2014

What to do if you are attacked by a banana

Throwing a banana a Barcelona soccer player has a familiar ring, doesn't it.
He ate the banana, thus disarming his attacker!

Its snowing. Again.

Here's this morning's U of S webcam screenshot.
Will it never end?
Last Thursday, as I got my morning coffee, I saw a duck perched on the peak of the snow-covered roof of the house next door, turning around and obviously saying "What the f**k is this?  I come back here to build a nest and THIS is what I get?"
(Yes, I know I should have snapped a "duckie" on my celphone and posted it to my tens of twitter followers but I never thought of it, sorry.)
Anyway that day's snow went away later that day.
Now this morning its BAAACK!, heavier than ever -- the snow, not the duck.
I think the duck has likely given up in despair.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Obama calls out racism without trashing the racists

Obama is truly one of the greatests Presidents the United States has ever had.
Racism is such a deep part of the American character and experience, I have sometimes despaired that it will ever be eradicated.  It has dominated America's civic life for the last two centuries -- where Americans live, how they school their children, how they organize their health care and welfare systems, how they design their cities, how they vote, their political parties -- to the point that racism has become one of the most basic distinctions between American society and Canadian society.
But if there is any one person who can lead America toward a better future, it is Barak Obama.
Here he is talking about LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling.  While calling Sterling's comments "incredibly offensive racist statements", he also provided, in just a few words, a perspective for Americans to adopt toward this controversy:
Obama cast the comments through a broader prism of racism in America, adding that “we constantly have to be on guard on racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength.”
“The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation, that’s still there, the vestiges of discrimination,” Obama said during a news conference in Malaysia, where he was travelling.
“We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often,” he added. “And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why statements like this stand out some much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.”
Its more than "vestiges" of course, as Obama knows very well. This description acknowledges the reality of racism while also marginalizing it, assuring America that the better angels of their nature will prevail, that the future will be better than the past.  That's what leadership looks like.

John Betts is not going to like Jason Kenney anymore

Kenney calls upon fast-food employers to raise wages, employ more Canadians:

Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney called a new moratorium on the fast-food industry's use of the temporary foreign worker program a "wake-up call" to employers that they should be taking a long, hard look across the country for Canadians to fill vacant jobs.
I wonder if MacDonalds CEO John Betts still thinks that Kenney "knows his stuff from a business person’s perspective."  

What Kenney is telling employers is, smarten up!

Because I'm afraid that one of the "perspectives" that employers unfortunately like about Temporary Foreign Workers is that they have no life here in Canada.

They have no kids taking hockey lessons, no daycare centre to get to before it closes, no spouse doing shift-work, no parents to drive to doctor appointments, no mortgage to pay, no lawn to mow, no "take your child to work" day.  So the TFWs can work bizarre split shifts, they can come into work at a moment's notice, they're willing to work whatever overtime they can get, and they don't worry about whether their job has any kind of future.  

Canadian employees, on the other hand -- and immigrants, too -- have a life outside of work.  They quite reasonably expect their workplace will recognize this, and will occasionally accommodate its demands. They expect their employer to respect their families, and their communities. They say "no" to oddball shifts and excessive overtime.

Every now and then they even leave work to vote!

CFIB president Dan Kelley thinks Canadians don't have a work ethic.  But what we do have is a life!

Immigrants, too, are trying to have careers here, wanting to bring their families with them and grow with their communities.  In making it more difficult for immigrants to come here, the Harper Cons have let down Canada.  More TFWs, nice people that they are, are not a substitute for citizens or prospective citizens who want to build their lives here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Good help is easy to find, if you pay for it

The whining from Canadian restaurants over the TFW cancellation is both offensive and insulting to Canada.

Any restaurant anywhere in the country that has to close down because it cannot find enough local teenagers or university students or unemployed people willing to work for them just isn't offering high enough pay.

That's basically the problem, isn't it? The restaurateurs don't want to have to pay a living wage to their staff, they'd rather use desperate immigrants who will work cheap and not demand better.

I'll bet more than one of these upstanding citizens has also been pulling the same kind of scam as this Tim Horton franchisee was accused of doing -- charging back to the employees the costs of their work permits and LPO surveys.  I'll bet he didn't think of doing this all by himself;  I'll bet this is common practice in the Canadian restaurant industry.

Because, you know, this industry is made up of those poor, poor corporations that are being so unfairly persecuted by everybody except the Minister, Jason Kenney, who apparently understands how important it is for Canada that restaurants can hire fry cooks cheap so that they can continue to sell burgers for $1.99.

As CBC dryly notes in its story about the infamous MacDonald's conference call:

At no point during the recording does the CEO mention hiring Canadians instead of temporary foreign workers or go over the rules of the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
It's not about racism, nor is it about the workers themselves.

Its about the Canadian restaurant companies who are screwing them.  And us.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Great line of the day

University of Montreal professor Paul Daly on the Supreme Court decision that the Harper Cons cannot unilaterally change the Senate:

Constitutional change is “difficult . . . and why shouldn’t it be difficult?” he added. “These are the fundamental institutions of Canadian democracy. It’s not because some people in the Senate are not up to scratch that sweeping change is necessary and it’s not because the politicians of the day don’t have an appetite for constitutional negotiation that we should make it easier. Maybe we should elect politicians who are more willing to go to the constitutional table.”
Emphasis mine.

CTV News tonight described Harper as having focused on Senate reform since he was first elected Prime Minister.  No, he hasn't done anything at all to reform the Senate.  He has talked about it endlessly since he became PM.  But the only thing he has actually done is to appoint the most cynically partisan group of intellectual lightweights ever called Senators.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No, its not art. Its garbage

Critics trash environmental artwork

Critics trash environmental artwork

This definitely falls into the "don't piss on me and tell me its raining" category.

What an insult from our Visual Arts Placement Jury to a poorer neighbourhood, to put a couple of bales of plastic garbage on one of their streetcorners and then tell them its "art" and is meant to start "a discussion about waste".

Inner city Saskatoon neighbourhoods have had plenty of opportunity over the years to talk about waste -- the needle cleanup every spring, to start with.  They don't need any more.

I cannot imagine the "discussion" that the residents would have had with their councillors if this had been placed on a corner in the University district, or in Stonebridge -- neighbourhoods which produces volumes more plastic waste annually than Mayfair ever did.

In fact, that's what I support -- let's move this to the corner of University Drive and Clarence Avenue for the next six months, right on the riverbank.

What a beautiful sight!


Shorter statement from the Weyburn restaurant at the centre of the Temporary Foreign Worker program controversy:

"It's all the employees' fault!"
Darn it, that "restructuring" will just trip you up sometimes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Whale of a tale

Now, it could be that the Harper government's move to take humpback whales off the endangered species list  is just a routine change which echoes similar downgrades by environmental organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
And it could be that it is merely a happy coincidence such a downgrade means no protection of critical whale habitat will be required anymore if the Northern Gateway pipeline and Trans Mountain pipeline expansion just happen to be approved someday soon.
But this is a government that sends out press releases about the number of visitors Canada gets from the Philippines and how it has improved the internet in Ottawa Valley South, to name just two of the 21 press releases it sent out today.
And the whale news was just posted quietly on Easter Saturday in the Canada Gazette?  So who can possibly believe that they didn't intend to sneak this one past us all.
Luckily, the Harper Cons are about as sneaky as humpback whales themselves, so now everybody knows about it:
...if Ottawa approves the pipeline, it must still persuade Canadians that the highest environmental standards have been met. On that count, the Harper government’s recent decision to downgrade the protection of humpback whales off the B.C. coast ranks as an epic fail.
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s recommendation to reclassify the humpbacks from “threatened” to a “species of special concern” removes a major hurdle for Gateway’s approval, just a couple of months before a decision is expected on the pipeline. Which is precisely why it should raise all sorts of red flags.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I'm not sure how the Hallelujah Chorus became a Christmas song -- it's a much more logical as an Easter celebration.
Here is the Hallelujah Chorus by the 5th grade class in Quinhagak, Alaska:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Air travel woes

Air Canada apologizes for luggage toss caught on video - Toronto - CBC News:

In spite of Air Canada saying that tossing bags down the stairs isn't their policy, its pretty clear from the video that there is nothing unusual for either of the gate staff doing this.
Then again, on our recent trip to the coast, I was surprised at the size of some of the bags people were trying to carry on, particularly for the puddle-jumper jet we were on from Calgary to Saskatoon.
And the woman sitting in front of us was shocked SHOCKED that her loaded, bulging bag just would not fit in the overhead compartment!
 This video is a lot more fun:

But it isn't so much the airplanes that are awful these days, its the airports:

Our own trip was certainly better than this -- planes on time, no problems either way.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This is priceless!

Rich people are NOT just like the rest of us, only with money.
Sometimes they're just amazingly silly.

Case in point -- Josh Romney sends out a tweet with a photo of his dad, Mitt Romney supposedly standing in a line to mail in his income tax return -- just like the simple folk do!

Josh seemed to think his photo proved some sort of point -- I guess it never occurred to him that just because his dad files a tax return doesn't mean Harry Reid was wrong in saying Romney didn't pay taxes from 2000 to 2010 .  The only thing it proved to me is that Romney is too cheap to have his accountant file electronically.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cautionary tale

Here's what employers supposedly like about temporary foreign workers:
Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, recently told CBC News that many Canadian employers feel that temporary foreign workers have a better work ethic than Canadians and that there are some jobs in some regions that Canadians do not want to do.
Better work ethic?  What tripe! Here's what I think employers actually like about those temporary foreign workers - they aren't likely to be talking to a union anytime soon.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out

It couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy:
despite endorsements of Anders by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Calgary cabinet heavyweight Jason Kenney, Liepert’s message that the area deserved a better MP resonated with Conservative voters weary of Anders’ shoot from the lip style.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Great line of the day

From Thomas Walkom's column about Jim Flaherty and the CBC cuts -- CBC cuts show other side of Jim Flaherty:
Those who knew him say he was hard-working, loyal to his family and possessed of an engaging personality.
There is no evidence that I know of to suggest that his motives were anything but public-spirited.
But he was also an integral part of a government determined to smash or cripple much of what makes Canada a livable country.
His death is a reminder that good people can do bad things for the best of motives...
Flaherty was also a willing and active participant in Harper’s dark experiment to remake Canada along Conservative lines. The omnibus budget bills that, to the dismay of the opposition, allowed this experiment to proceed were his.
Yes, that pretty much sums up how I feel.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I'm back

And I think I'm just in time to watch the so-called Fair Elections Act go down in flames.

First, we find out that moving elections investigations to the AG department actually WAS because the Harper Cons are blaming the messenger, Elections Canada for the elections scandals which have plagued their party since 2006 -- instead of blaming their own colleagues and their own staff, those guys who actually, you know, broke the law and lied about it:

Mr. Aspin is the first Conservative to publicly voice suspicions within the party that, somehow, the two reporters who broke the robocalls story, Ottawa Citizen Glen McGregor and Postmedia News Stephen Maher, were the recipients of leaked information from Elections Canada.... Asked if he believes the Conservative suspicion about leaks to journalists from the Elections Canada investigation was the reason behind the government’s distrust of the agency and its decision to transfer investigative powers through Bill C-23, Mr. Aspin replied: “I’m sure it had an impact, because, I mean, the investigations I don’t think were handled professionally, and that’s a non-partisan comment.”
This accusation was echoed by a former Harper Communications Director, Geoff Norquay, who told CBC that the act is "vengeance" on the Chief Electoral Officer. As reported by Jason Koblovsky at Mind Bending Politics:

Norquay’s “vengeance” comments stunned all of the members of the Power Panel to which he was commenting on. Norquay later tried to retract.
I'll bet he did.

And finally today, we have the unprecedented and appalling spectacle of a government minister, Pierre Pollievre, launching a vicious personal attack against a civil servant, Marc Mayrand.

...Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre accused Marc Mayrand of opposing the proposed overhaul of election laws because he wants more power for himself. Poilievre told the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee that Mayrand is making “astounding” and “amazing” allegations about the Fair Elections Act, or Bill-C23.
"He wants more power, a bigger budget and less accountability,” Poilievre said.
Personal attacks like this are the last refuge of scoundrels, and the surest sign yet that the Harper Cons know their terrible elections bill is flaming out.