Wednesday, 12 December 2012

So This Is Christmas

It comes as no surprise to anybody that Christmas is by far my least favorite time of year (the rant about why is at the bottom of this post). This year, I've decided instead of just being loathsome toward the entire season, I will try to capitalize on all the things I like about it. Below, is a short outline of the things I love about Christmas.

Social Gatherings (and therefore) A Built in Excuse To Get Out of Any Social Function

Yes, it is the season! People gather as everyone feels the need to come together for different Christmas gatherings. In fact, we moved the date of our Christmas/housewarming/new kittens party due to other gatherings that Ms.Wonderful thought might take precedence. I like my friends, so partying with them is right up my alley! I enjoy fabricated reasons for everyone to get together. If I was capable, every Saturday of the year would be a party at my place... I have swung this idea by Ms.Wonderful and she politely declined. This time of year brings people to that point though. Granted it's not always the same group that will gather, but good times abound. With that said, bad times are easily avoided! Oh you'd like me to come watch your daughter's Christmas play? Sorry, I have Ms.Wonderful's Christmas party that night! Oh you'd like me to come to a concert for the six homeless people on PEI? Sorry, I have an eggnog competition I've already agreed to judge. Speaking of eggnog...

The Drinking

This appears to be the one time of year that it's okay to get drunk on a Tuesday. Christmas is a time of excess drinking, eating, and consumerism. One of these things turns people into fat slobs, another turns them into psychotic Western world brats. The drinking? A few people have sex with folks they probably shouldn't have. No harm, no foul. "You're too drunk for a Christmas party" is something no one has ever said.

The Goodwill

Ok, so this one is weird. The goodwill is pretty much bullshit as I outline below in my rant BUT I'm willing to believe. Just like I believed in Santa till I was 19, I believe in the goodwill. Much like Santa, it's mostly fake but who cares. I actually have good will and am not just putting on a show for this shitshow of a Christmas season. So while everyone pretends to be jolly, I'll be joyous in my jolliness being less obscene.

Why I Hate Christmas

It's a time of complete hypocrisy as we yearn for peace on earth and goodwill towards men while simultaneously trying to box out the bitch who lives on Queen Street to get the last Tickle Me Elmo. In fact, the entire gift giving experience is an absolute joke. It's a time for people to provide others with things they would like them to have. Where people can enforce their beliefs and values on those who are close to them under the guise of the "Christmas Spirit". I would note that my jadedness in this regard likely has a direct relation to the year my mother asked me what I was into, I told her gaming, and she bought me the board game Risk. This along with a tablecloth when I did not own a kitchen/dining room table. No, she thought gaming was board games, and she thought people should have table cloths - and so I sat there like a fool trying to pretend to be grateful instead of horribly insulted. Which brings me to another shit part about Christmas. The pretending that something you've received which is total shit, is not total shit. "Oh, thanks - I've always wanted a menstrual cup. It's really - really it's great. Thanks!"

This doesn't even begin to mention the claims to be happy to see people you're really not particularly interested in. "It's always nice to see family" is the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard. Unless they live far away, we're able to spend time with family as much as we want. We choose not to usually. In fact, in my early 20's the best part about Christmas was everything after 9pm when those of us that were still capable of staying awake would meet to share the horrors of what just transpired. The shopping is really the crux of it all for me. The stress people put on themselves about trying to find that perfect gift for (whoever) - because it's a delicate line one must walk in trying to find something you can pass off as thinking they would like while still trying to make sure it's something you're willing to stand by.

Let's not even start on the gift explanations that are inevitable once someone has opened it.
"Oh - a sweater... awesome?..."
"Well I know how you like to wear t-shirts, and I was out and saw that they had sweaters on sale and I thought that was really close to a t-shirt and I know how you like sheep since I used to read ba ba black sheep to you when you were six, and it's made of wool so I'm just sure you'll love it!" Anyways - I hate presents, pretending, and preachers. Also - I hate that my birthday is a week later and is an apparent after thought the whole fucking thing.  /rant

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Interacting With Children

The other day I was talking to my sister on Skype and she brought the laptop into the other room so I could talk to my nephew. After exchanging pleasantries with me, he let me know that the laptop was actually in front of his computer and stopping him from playing a game. I suddenly had flashbacks to being a child, forced to talk to relatives on the phone. In hindsight, I assume this was done because you must teach young ones that relatives are important and warrant time and attention. I remember feeling like there were far more important things to do, and really lacking any attention, I eventually started to rue the three questions:

1. How old are you now?
2. How's school?
3. Do you have a girlfriend?*

I assume this is to show children that we care about them. Truth be told, most adults are not having the conversation with the child thinking there is anything they could learn or grow from. Certainly, children will surprise you at times but to think that there would be a large family gathering and the 45 year old uncle has any legitimate interest in the child is absurd. Yet we all acknowledge that any marginally adult gathering must be tedious and tiresome for a toddler or tween so we try to alleviate it by asking simplistic questions. Although our questions are often thoughtless and trivial the persons being asked have been trained that any pronouncement of the boring nature of conversation is "rude".** I'm especially amused by this aspect of the social exchange where it's rude for the child to express his disinterest because you want to be respectful to those who at least try to hide their disinterest. I even found myself looking at my nephew completely unsure of what to say and asked him, "how old are you now?" I caught myself right away, and would not go down that same road. I tried to ask about his game, compliment his pajamas, try to understand what it was that he was saying (I'm really bad at speaking child). Truth be told, I had no idea what to talk to him about. Having not seen him in more than a year now, I was happy just to see him. Once he had informed me that his video game was waiting, I was happy to let him get back to it.

I know enough time has passed where I've become the old uncle who's boring and trying to hard to get along with the kids. When my other nephew declined a Skype chat, I realized he was probably just saving both of us the awkwardness of discussion. Sometimes I wish more people, young and old, would offer that courtesy.  I caught a glimpse of him early though - so I'm satisfied with the exchange.

Interacting With Religion

I don't know much about religion. Those that know me well might assume that I do because I would occasionally stand in for my minister while she vacationed. I think all that proves is that I'm very comfortable getting up in front of large groups.

I heard someone describe the difference between protestant and catholic as catholics believing you need to live a good life or repent for your sins (if you're a douche) to go to heaven. Whereas protestants can be douches but need to believe in Jesus and they get in. I found myself wondering where the faith was where you can't be douche at all. Where's the religion that says, "You killed a dude? Fuck. No. Yeah you're damned. Forever. You don't kill dudes. That's like the highest form of doucebagery." This is where I feel like religion is too often used as a crutch. Instead of finding inner peace with any past malfeasance one may have, they speak to their invisible friend. Thankfully the invisible friend has a visible agent (who you're often giving money to directly or indirectly) who will tell you everything is OK. After all, the idea that this is all part of a preconceived plan is far more comforting than our own choices landing us where we are.*** It's also better to think that a better life is to come with no effort required by you except for blind faith. Just send a couple bucks the church's way (10% of what you earn if I remember correctly) and feel shame for the very natural things that you feel - and a good life will follow. I wish society could just admit what we know in our hearts: Religion is a large-scale morality tale. An overriding theme of many religions is to be good to each other, and not to judge. It doesn't take a person of marginally deep thought to understand how nice a world would be if those two things stayed true. Yet these texts are distorted and redistributed as evidence for moral high ground in hate. I guess I'm just frustrated with that.

Here's a video of a religious man I like. 

Interacting With Myself

So while this post feels unfocused in some ways to me, I feel like it's reflective of where I am in my life. I have a good job and a great partner - and am now left to contemplate what it is to exist in this world with those two desires satisfied. I know I don't want to be a slave to any religious ideology, or to engage in small talk only to not appear rude. It's the more nuanced stuff that complicates my brain. For example, how does one resolve the person they'd like to be, the person they'd like people to see them as, and the person that they are? Personally, I find the third to be an insult to human capabilities. Too many people short change their ability to change. So instead I weigh the person I want to be versus the person I want to be known as. For as much as I may love dancing around in my boxers, I don't want to be known around town as the guy who dances around in his boxers. The idea that you need to lend credence to the sensibilities of others as misplaced as you may see them is something I'm constantly struggling with. I sometimes worry that I'll become like my friends who consider how others view them as the entirety of their character. At the same time I'm so afraid of that possibility that I know I'll never completely give in to the court of public opinion. I believe that if everyone is happy with you, you've done something horribly wrong. There are completely senseless people in this world, after all. The truth is that some would rather be liked than right - but I would rather be right than liked. This paragraph has no concluding sentence but that's because there's no real conclusion to this process. I imagine it goes on forever.

*Once answered with "No" the response of "Of course not, you probably have 3" was far too common.
**People may be offended! As we all know, no one must ever be offended at any time. In fact, it's become common for public apologies to be for the offense instead of the act. This in itself could be another rant entirely but I digress.
***I'm sorry, far left friends, the "system" did not cause all of our social issues. Some people are just assholes.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012



I made the choice recently to get off Facebook. I vowed back in March that if they were going to force "Timeline" onto me, that I would stop using the service. I vowed to go to Google+ as it seemed to still exist in a format I enjoyed. Granted I'd be (at best) the seventh person on Google+ but I was probably the seventh person on Facebook too. Between March and the notification I got a week ago that Timeline would be forced on me, Google+ appears to have switched its format to include cover photos and basically become a carbon copy of Facebook. I'm not particularly surprised, and also not particularly interested in using the service anymore. Alas, I'll probably post outrageous things to Twitter instead and restrict/parse down that list to ensure it doesn't become something carried in media outlets.

The thing I'm quickly realizing is that we're redefining "necessities" as a western culture. This is a fad because surely at some point there were people that felt like Crocs were a necessity. So as Facebook sees this, they changed from a company that was trying to woo potential users, to dictating terms of use. For example, for a long time I could keep my profile picture hidden to those who were not my friend. That is no longer the case. On one occasion I had to go in and change my publicly listed email address because Facebook had decided to change it to the email they were now providing. Then Facebook told me they were changing the layout again and making "Timeline". That was enough. There is no NEED to use this service and the fact is the service is barely a shadow of what I signed up for 5+ years ago and offers very little of what I found attractive anymore. It's not simple, or clean, or easy to control my information. So I made the choice to leave.

With all that said, I understand a good portion of my traffic here came from posting the blogs to Facebook, so this is going to become an even lesser known blog. I'm entirely ok with that.

Another Election

Americans are faced with a pretty distinctive choice on November 6, 2012. The choice is fairly stark. Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have exceptionally different backgrounds. Mr. Obama, of a middle-class grandmother who worked in middle management in her adult life. Mr. Romney, with the proverbial silver spoon. His father ran for President, was Governor of his state,  and ran a major auto manufacturing company. From the perspective of a relatively centered outsider, I'm flabbergasted to see national polls at a dead heat.

If I lived in the US, I'd be one of the people you call an independent. Fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. So the question becomes of the man (and eventually, woman). This is not an even remotely close decision. Mr.Romney has changed his mind on abortion, Iraq, Afghanistan, the auto industry, and almost any other subject of any consequence. Mr. Romney isn't a principled man looking to lead the nation to the promise land. Mr. Romney is a man willing to do whatever it takes to outdo his father and become the most powerful man on earth.

I strongly disagree with the way Mr. Obama has dealt with some of the economic issues his nation faces. Fixing a massive debt problem by borrowing more money isn't close to an effective strategy. However, for the most part the man seems true to his word. There have been a few occasions where he hasn't pushed congress hard enough (see: Guantanamo Bay) but for the most part what's been holding back his agenda is not a lack of political will, but another branch of government. This is a no-brainer for anyone with a brain. There is no reason what-so-ever to consider Mitt Romney to be a trust-worthy individual.

 The Weak Blue Jays

What follows is a rant. It's entirely possible it will contain many curse words.

Toward the end of the year the Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar painted on his eye black (the spanish version of) "you are a faggot". Toronto is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the entire world, and the Jays responded to this act of intolerance with a 3 game suspension. We all know that the Jays are not dictators in a situation like this and they would need to be mindful of any possible labor actions by the players association. With that said, there was nothing to stop the organization from paying him, and sending him home. Toronto fans should not have needed to see him on the field again, but they did. The Jays took the easy way out, and provided a slap on the wrist.

For the last two months of the season there was rampant speculation that the Boston Red Sox had interest in hiring the Jays manager, John Farrell. The speculation no doubt came from the organization directly, as they can't have direct contact with Farrell. The media gets some inside info from an owner, and next thing you know they're asking questions of the manager. None of this is extraordinary. The Jays had one year left on their deal with Farrell and if they were going to let him go, it would make sense to have your name out there. The Jays weren't planning on letting him go though. So they negotiated a trade, so Farrell could go there. Great! We got a useful player, right? No... actually not. We got Mike-fucking-Aviles. The man who tied for last in qualifying palyers for OBP in the AL, second last in MLB. By the way, want to guess who was 9th worst? Colby Rasmus.

So let me get this straight. The Jays hated rival, Boston Red Sox, want something they have, the Sox value him highly... and you give him away for NOTHING!? The Red Sox are a mess, and you're HELPING!? Who the fuck is in charge at Jays headquarters because right now it looks like it might be my nephew who, if you ask nice enough, will let you do just about anything. Show some fucking backbone for crying out loud. They want him, you have him. The answer you're looking for is "no." Even a variation of "no" would be good. How about, "Middlebrooks, or no" or something like "Oh, you seem to be rolling around on the floor bleeding profusely, let me open my bucket of salt and pour it over you, because you're my rival and I fucking hate you. Hell, even if I don't hate you, I know my fan base does - so fuck you. You make us a deal that we win, clearly - or go fuck yourself." I'm sick and fucking tired of this god damn team just rolling over. Make some fucking hard choices instead of the easy ones.


Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

When you gotta go...

I had to go.

Sure, I tried to hold it as long as I could, but I had to. 

I'd received the corporate communication not only about the appropriate times to go, but also the appropriate ways to go. At one point, it even specified to keep the two out of the one hole. How crazy is that? Sadly, not all that crazy. I've worked in places like that before, and there's always at least one person who is beyond clueless. The one that makes you ask questions that you never thought you'd ask before. "Is there any education requirement for this job?" or "Can you really expect a person to keep their elementary school graduation documentation" or "IS there elementary school graduation documentation?" ... Regardless of all of this, I had to go. 

I walked through the door and turned to the left.  I was allowed to use these because it was a one and not a two. Thank god for that email refresher. There were only two there. Why on gods green earth would any man build this room and only leave two of these here? There's no way a man built this room. Not one chance. Any man would build one, three, or five. In stadium situations it'd be much larger surely, but in those situations all bets are off. If you put 50,000 people into the Dome for a game, and 30,000 of us are men, and 25,000 of us men are drinking, the rooms are massive and no one cares where anyone else stands. There's no room. There's no time. As we stand in the room there's some act of incredible drama connected to sport and we're in such a rush to get back to it that it's a damn good thing we're all standing in this room. Except for Jim. He's sitting down in that little box with a bad case of the twos. You never get the Nachos at the Dome. But I digress. 

The room I'm in now only has two to choose from, I could go into the box but that'd be strange... right? If someone else was to come in and I'm just standing in the box and there's no one outside of it, then it looks like I'm either rolling a joint or doing coke. Seeing as how I don't do either of those things, I can't have rumours flying around the office saying otherwise. I can't use the box. I have to stand here and pick one of the two then hope and wish that no other man joins me in here. 

Everything is going perfectly. I'm practising my cursive, and then it happens. I hear the door open. This is one of those times where I wish performance anxiety could kick in halfway. If I walked into the room and there were only two and the box was full, I'd be terrified. Who wants to be the second guy? This makes me realize that this probably won't turn out too badly, it's not this guy I need to worry about it's the NEXT guy. That's what I thought at least... 

Nope. It's this guy. See this guy has some kind social defect where he wasn't raised to respect another mans space in this room. We all know the rules. You provide space! If there's only two standing spots and there's two or more available boxes, you go to the box and give the man space! I can't be seen to be freaking out though. It's fine. Everything is going to be fine. Maybe he was just raised differently. This isn't worth panicking about. I'll just finish what I was doing, maybe without the cursive, and get the hell out of here. Eyes forward...

The fact that this dude has now half turned his body in my direction can be taken as nothing other than a complete affront on all things we've agreed upon as a civilized people. Who turns toward the other guy? This is feeling like some kind of dream. If this person is ever in any kind of adoption process, either dog or person, I want some say in the matter. Clearly this man isn't right. I'm going to send a follow up email adding additional rules about the box and the turn. This might be the most uncomfortable moment of my life, but I'll carry on. Eyes forward... 

I'm finished now and having concluded the appropriate amount of shaking it out, I need to wash my hands. I feel dirty. What kind of man turns!? I've finished washing my hands and as I turn the little wheel that's needed when paper towel isn't already hanging out, I think about how many people with fully germed hands have touched this wheel. I feel more dirty. I feel violated. 

I slowly walk back to my desk. Dignity shaken, but I hold my head high. I imagine that once I left the room this man was taking a two in the one hole. Nevertheless, what he's done to me sticks with me. These people carry on with their lives like nothing's happened. They clearly have no idea what horrors await in the bathroom. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The G20 Reports and a Quick Note For The Left

Nearly two years ago world leaders met in Toronto for the G20 summit. Anytime that 20 of the most powerful people on earth (and their staff) are all in one place there is a necessity for a large scale security operation. Citizens of Toronto were aware of this before the summit started as entire sections of the city were being fenced in prior to the dignitaries arrival. Joe Blow Toronto couldn't have expected what was to follow. Anyone who pays attention to world events knew exactly what to expect.

In both Pittsburgh and London there were massive protests and massive arrests. In London in particular, one protester died during a confrontation with police.

On queue, massive protests descended on Toronto, including a small portion of the Black Bloc. Police responded by arresting more than 1,100 people. Immediately following the summit there were calls for the resignation of Police Chief Bill Blair, and allegations of assault, wrongful arrest, and various breaches of Charter Rights.

This past week The RCMP Commission for Public Complaints  and The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) released reports in review of the incidents during G20 week. In addition Byron Sonne was cleared on all charges in his case where he nearly spent a year in prison without bail. In that time he also got the gift of a divorce via letter.

After having read the majority of the two reports, it became clear that there was no shortage of Charter Rights violations two years ago. The command and control structure of our police forces played a large part in this. The officers on the front line knew what they were doing was wrong, and in some cases unlawful. They had objections, but carried their orders.

The RCMP report was released on Tuesday, and the OIRPD report was released on Thursday.

The RCMP Report

The RCMP report revealed that two plain clothed Toronto Police officers were arrested as part of the five total arrests that the RCMP completed. This was not made known to the investigator. From page 38 of the report:

During the interview, as in the arresting officers’ notes, the POU Commander did not indicate that two of those arrested were plain-clothes officers, later stating that he did not believe it to be significant. 
It was only through an inadvertent comment that the Commission was made aware of the incident. 

This wasn't the only occurrence of the investigation being mislead by officers. In reference to the incident at Queen and Spadina the investigation notes. From page 39 of the report: 

A similar response was received from the RCMP Liaison Officer in the MICC who indicated that although he was aware that there was an RCMP tactical troop at Queen Street and Spadina Avenue, he was preoccupied with the movement of resources from Ottawa to Toronto. However, an entry on the sitboard at 6:21 p.m. on June 27, 2010, states: “On June 27, 2010,  at 1818 hrs,  RCMP Supt. . . .  (MICC) updated the crowd is still at Queen and Spadina where POU units, and [Toronto Police Service] Mounted Units are monitoring.” A second entry eleven minutes later goes on to note: “On June 27, 2010, at 1829 hrs, RCMP Supt. . . . advises that the crowd is contained, ongoing extraction and arrests.” This suggests that the senior RCMP officer in the MICC was aware of the situation at the time. (...) There is an apparent disconnect between the RCMP POU Commander on the ground, who had concerns with the ordered tactic, and senior RCMP commanders, including the Liaison Officer in the MICC, who either were not aware of the ongoing situation, or were aware but did not have or did not express concern.

The RCMP investigation was limited in scope. For example, it was not within the scope of the investigation to determine what intelligence gathering methods were legal. However, it appears as though the report hinted that it might look at this anyways since there was a lack of judicial oversight in this regard. From page 30 of the report: 

Given that the resolution did not include any judicial scrutiny of whether the operations were carried out in an appropriate manner, the Commission is considering whether further review of these operations is required. 

The RCMP report revealed that RCMP officers aren't exactly forthright when being investigated.

The OIPRD Report 

If I was to include all of the relevant quotes from this report, I'd break 30,000 words in this blog. Instead, I'll point you to my Reddit post for all the quotes and page numbers to substantiate the following bullet points:

  • 186 People were strip searched with no paperwork to justify it. 
  • Young Offenders were placed in adult cells 
  • The Prisoner Processing Centre (PPC) had obvious flaws brought up previous to the summit, that were ignored/dismissed. 
  • The planing documents for the PPC said it could hold 500+ prisoners, but had no logistical reason for that. The roof partially caved in, and there was a flood of six inches of water. 
  • The mass arrests at UofT were unlawful. 
  • During the unlawful mass arrests at Queen and Spandina (including two Toronto Police Officers) Bill Blair was busy shaking hands with the President of the United States. 
  • The mass arrests at Novotel were unlawful. 
  • Officers either didn't understand, or disregarded the limits of their stop and search authority. 

This was essentially a slightly watered down version of martial law. The right to protest was trampled on, and the abuse of police powers was far reaching.

For trampling on the rights of the citizens, these officers will clearly face severe legal consequences. Actually... that's not the case. In fact, according to CBC News the worst that could happen is they lose their job:

The charges, which are not criminal, would be laid under the Police Services Act. Officers found guilty could face penalties ranging from having their pay docked to losing their jobs.  

I doubt this will satisfy the 180 people who were strip searched without any justification.

A Quick Note For The Left

Can we celebrate for a second? If we're going to get on our high horse and profess the need to have programs in place for the less fortunate/downtrodden, shouldn't we also demand that those who abuse these same systems have some kind of accountability? 

I understand why the NDP and Liberals need to scream "bloody murder" over the changes to EI. Politics was never about truth, rather perception. Mr. Flarhety's comments about needing seniors and aboriginals to work are especially easy fodder for this. Likewise, the left-leaning sheeple (yes they do exist) will follow along this same line of thinking. 

The rest of us need to get on board with the conservative government for taking steps to ensure that serial users of EI are weened off the system. Better yet, have them shocked off they system. EI is an insurance. If I was to crash my car every 8 months, I'd be paying so much in insurance that I couldn't drive, or I wouldn't be able to get insurance anymore. Our safety nets should be used by people who occasionally need them, not by people who consider them a way of life.  

Friday, 18 May 2012

Ten Link Thursdays (5/17/2012)

I was going to merge this with a big post on the G20 (which will still  be written) but there was just too much information released this week for me to finish it all on time. Instead, here's 10 links on a Friday. As always, no particular order of importance.

1. Conservatives funneling money to their buddies? Isn't that what we got rid of the Liberals for? 

2. BC Primier rejects Dutch Disease exists - calls NDP leader names since she can't argue the facts

3. Undercover Toronto Police Officers were breaking the law arrested. We learned later in the week that being arrested made it oddly unlikely you were breaking the law: 

4. A man who took an Axe to the head in Afghanistan, clearly outlines why our Government is distinctly uncanadian.

7. The Conservative Government may have sold out our national security:

9. This can't be right, it makes far too much sense to involve the legal system:

10. This happens every 10 years or so - and we realize it's stupid every 10 years or so:

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ten Link Thursday

Ten Link Thursday, where I share ten links from the last week that I find interesting with a quick comment.

The following is in no particular order

1. It's not that difficult to draw connections between the Bush years and Harper years:

2. It seems like some people opposing abortion now have working Uteruses:

3. Canadian Science Writers are being given an award for speaking up when they're told to shut up:

4. 30 dollar rooms for rent:


6. You're footing the bill for Mr.Harper's mouth, but the bill is yet to be disclosed:

7. New poll has the NDP gaining Nationally, but sliding in Quebec:

8. Offbeat: Some people have interesting goals:

9. Stephen Harper opposes OmniBus bills:

10. Stephen Harper and his Masters in Economics, doesn't understand economics: 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Then There Was Silence

The Canadian Association of Journalists are starting to make a stir about the level of secrecy being displayed by the Conservative Government*.  To quote The Globe and Mail:

The federal government was named for keeping information out of public hands on files such as the F-35 program, avoiding questions at media events and for restricting both public and media access to contentious information.

The article also notes that the Conservative Government almost exclusively communicates with the media by email. As one of the comments point out, the most amusing part of this story seeing the light of day is The Globe and Mail's endorsement of Mr.Harper. Like many Canadians, The Globe should take these actions as something of a point of introspection. It's not coming out of left field that the Government is withholding information from both the press and therefore public. In fact, it's the reason behind the impending motion of contempt that was only avoided by a vote on the budget. This was the exact reason for Andrew Coyne's endorsement of the Liberal Party in the last election.

Our citizenship has become so disengaged that the relevance of the media outcry is limited at best. The electorate is far more interested in the anniversary of William and Kate's wedding than they are in having information on how their government is behaving.

There are those of us that see the light, that feel like people will at any moment wake up and demand accountability from their government. There's little evidence to support this theory. Sure, polling numbers say that the NDP has drawn even with the Conservatives but years away from an election you can hardly count on that. There's an Omnibus budget bill on the way that will pass without much fuss, because after all it's nearly summer and people have more important things to think about than the future of our nation.

*It's recently occurred to me that anyone discussing or writing about the practices of the current government should withhold from referring to the Harper government. Only recently has this become a thing, but it paves the way to suggest that once Mr.Harper has been removed from power that the new Conservative government would act in a significantly different way. What the Conservative Government has created is a structure of information distribution and governance that citizens should expect to see carried over once a new Conservative leader is installed. The policies of this government are not only Stephen Harper's but also that of the Conservative Party of Canada - a distinction that we should not allow Mr.Harper to have us forget.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A Smorgasbord of Things

I can't lie, I've always wanted to find a way to work the word "Smorgasboard" into one of my writings. This title seemed fitting as I don't have any thoughts to pontificate about at length. Instead, I offer you bite sized thoughts from my bite sized mind.

That House

This country and presumably others are filled with "that house". "That House" where many people have lived, and there's an entire friends circle that has either grown from or with the abode. In many cases "that house" was an apartment. The physical location was less important than the people that occupied it.

I was at a farewell party to one of those houses last night. People came with stories of the shenanigans which had gone down in the living room. They looked longingly for the table that was once danced upon with some regularity. At other places I've been, there was a fondness for the old McDonalds trash can that was drunkenly acquired one evening on a stumble home. Yet others some come back to wondering if the bong hidden away on the balcony upstairs still has its home in the corner (it did not).

These places are usually just some combination of brick, wood, steel and drywall, but they hold inside of them a connection to our youth that can't be unchained. The stories we tell in our advanced years will reference back to "that time on ___________ street" and those that were there will know exactly what we're talking about. Those that weren't, will think of their own communal locations. There will be other locations that act as touchstones in our lives, where you bring your first child home or the first home you buy for example. There's something about these first communal houses, though. They are places of community. Places where children learn together how to be adults.

Anyone who's lived in one of these houses knows that it's not all roses, as heads butt and personalities clash. However, there's little doubt in my mind that it's an invaluable life experience that everyone should have the chance to participate in during their formative years.

Conservatives on Abortion 

I must be feeling ill because I felt moved by something a prominent Conservative said in the House of Commons this week. It's a kick in the face for those Conservatives who vote as such for social reasons, which I'm certain is why the PMO didn't note if he was speaking on behalf of the government or himself. A copy of the Government WHIP's* statement can be found here, but it's this excerpt that I found myself especially agreeing with:

Abortion is a very serious and long-lasting decision for women, and I want all women to continue to live in a society in which decisions on abortion can be made, one way or the other, with advice from family and a medical doctor and without the threat of legal consequences. I do not want women to go back to the previous era where some were forced to obtain abortions from illegal and medically dangerous sources. This should never happen in a civilized society.
Whether one accepts it or not, abortion is and always will be part of society. There will always be dire situations in which some women may have to choose the option of abortion. No matter how many laws some people may want government to institute against abortion, abortion cannot be eliminated. It is part of the human condition.
I cannot understand why those who are adamantly opposed to abortion want to impose their beliefs on others by way of the Criminal Code. There is no law that says that a woman must have an abortion. No one is forcing those who oppose abortion to have one.
Within the free and democratic society of Canada, if one has a world view based on a personal moral code that is somewhat different from others, then live according to those views as long as they are within the current laws. On the other hand, citizens who are also living within the reasonable limits of our culture and who may not agree with another's particular moral principles should not be compelled to follow them by the force of a new law.
I am sure we all recognize that the issue of abortion raises strongly held and divergent views within and outside Parliament. However, I firmly believe that each of us should be able to pursue our lifestyle as long as it is within the boundaries of law and does not interfere with the actions of others... Society has moved on and I do not believe this proposal should proceed. 

If only an American conservative would have the courage to say the same thing now. 


The HST is coming to PEI and the Islanders are livid! I was unaware of many of the tax loopholes for the previous PST, and am completely unsurprised that a people who had such a sweet deal (and quickly ballooning deficit) are getting pissed off that their lollipop is being taken away. For example, there was no PST on Tobacco. Certainly there were other provincial taxes, but somehow not the sales tax. Nearly everything to do with a funeral had no PST, along with manicures, pedicures, and salon visits. Needless to say, I think the province was long overdue for a change. However, there's some parts where the government might of actually had it right in the first place.

  • The future of health care is in prevention. There's a ton of evidence to show that dollars spent in prevention of illness (i.e. promotion of healthy and active lifestyles) saves in future treatment costs. So when I saw that previously untaxed gym memberships or children's karate/ballet/hockey lessons will now be taxed - I was a little perplexed. It seemed like short term thinking. 
  • Heating Oil amuses me. If you have oil heating, you get a tax break. If you have a wood stove, or electric heating, you have to pay. The government should not be favoring one style of heating over another. Either tax it all the same, or don't tax it at all. 
  • I always thought it was interesting that PEI chose not to tax books. I don't really have a strong opinion on how important that was, but am certainly disappointed to see it go. It's an indirect tax hike on  post secondary students, which is not what they need. 

There's also sales tax on an item that makes absolutely no sense as far as I'm concerned: Feminine Hygiene Products. We don't charge sales tax on prescription drugs, glasses, hearing aids, or basically anything that it would be unreasonable to ask a person to go without if they need it. I feel pretty comfortable speaking for women when I say that they need feminine hygiene products. There's no reason this should be taxed, in fact it's incredibly sexist to do so. It's a tax on being a woman, and it's not right.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The NDP Has A New Leader (Professor?)

I'll be honest. I haven't read the budget. It's 500 pages long, and I am not one of the fortunate people who get to participate in the lock up*. So I'm going to write about the NDP race in this blog, but I promise to read much of the budget and come back with my thoughts in the next week or two.

The NDP is 100% Committed to Losing the Next Election

As reported by Kady O'Malley, the NDP has stated they will not run attack ads. That's not how they work. The NDP also elected the man who publicly questioned if there really were Osama Bin Laden pictures. I don't feel like I need to make much more of a case than that for Mulcair not getting elected the Prime Minister of Canada. Just in case, I'll link you to his speech after having won the convention.

In reference to being attacked, Mulcair called it secondary school behavior and said that they have a different approach. When told it worked with Ignatieff, he said they can't do any worse than his brothers and sisters, something I could never imagine a secondary school child saying.

Here's the biggest problem: He looks like a professor. We tried that. Well, the Liberals tried that. Mulcair also tried to say that the way to win the election is to get the 67% of 18-25 demographic that didn't vote in the last election. Mr. Mulcair doesn't seem to understand just how distracted this generation is. To cut through the noise, Professor Mulcair will debate policy and not engage in personal attacks.

To rephrase, Mr.Mulcair's plan to become Prime Minister is to reach out to the demographic watching 16 and Pregnant, Jersey Shore, and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, by civilly discussing policy. I truly wish we lived in a society where this would be a realistic approach, but it's not. It's unrealistic, it's La La Land - in other words it's right in the wheelhouse of the NDP.

I look forward to the Liberal leadership race, because right now there is no reason to think there's a party capable of beating the Conservatives.

*One day in my life I WOULD like to be one of the people locked in a room with no cell phone for seven hours while going through a 500 page document. #thingsthatwouldonlyexciteme 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Writers Block

I've been wanting to update this, as I'm trying to stick to my blogging once a week theory.

It's just not happening though. Whenever I try to write about anything politics related, I get the feeling of being the man yelling at the freight train running him over.

So for now, this blog will be unoccupied again. Until I can muster up the courage to lose my discouragement about the future.

Friday, 9 March 2012

All This Talk About Food Is Making Me Hungry!

The last 48 hours of my life have been a crash course in a broken food system. 

This is not to say I didn't care about food issues previously. My love has made me quite aware of some of the challenges facing our current food consumption style from the day we met. Since then I've been frequenting farmers markets and trying to ensure as much of my food dollar goes to the people producing it as possible. Supporting local farmers for my meat and veggies along with any other sustenance available has quickly become a part of my lifestyle. On top of this, I've tried to severely limit the amount of money that I'm spending at fast food. This scene from Food Inc can best describe why I haven't eaten a nugget in at least a month. 

I sat in at the PEI Adapt Conference yesterday and learned a great deal. I brought my notebook with me, as I tend to do everywhere. In the last three months I've scribbled about six pages of random notes about random things as I wandered the Atlantic Provinces. Yesterday's conference quickly saw an additional six pages of notes added. This post is my attempt to pass on what I've learned in the last 48 hours: 

Do You Know What  CSA Is? If So, Why Don't You Have One?  

CSA stands for Community Supported (or shared) Agriculture. 

With a CSA you give your farmer X dollars at the beginning of the season. "X" will change depending on what you're buying. Obviously, a meat CSA is more expensive than a veggie CSA (per pound). With the money that you give the farmer, they use it for their operating costs. Seeds/livestock, tractors, etc. Many of these farmers even have greenhouses to help them produce some of the more sought after veggies like tomatoes and peppers. After that, at different intervals (some go weekly, some biweekly, others as one time returns) you get a box of food from your farmer. Most farmers just have a set box that has a mix of items. In the early part of the season it's usually greener - but as the season goes on you'll see more carrots and other colorful items crop up* as they come to harvest. Other farmers (like presenter Jen) will have something where you have a mostly set box, but can grab other items as wanted. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone likes broccoli. 

More often than not these are coming from small family farms that are using organic production standards and not the industrialized food model. My love and I will be participating in at least two this year, and I'd encourage you to do so. 

We Can Learn From The South

Dr. Av Singh's discussion outlined lessons that can be learned in the north from our neighbors to the far south.

In our culture we've redefined innovation as being something new and often technological, and fallen away from appreciating innovative ideas. For something to be an innovative idea, it does not need to be the most cutting edge technology. In fact, the most innovative ideas right now are those going against the trend of technology. As Monsanto is suing farmers for saving seeds, and actively trying to destroy the practice so new seeds can be sold yearly one of the most innovative things a farmer can do right now is save their seeds for the next season. 

Innovation can take the form of where you seek your advice too. In Africa, there was nearly an entire generation of farmers killed by AIDS. So the new generation is having to go back two generations for knowledge in this regard. I fear that in our western culture we'd seek scientists and consultants, whereas there's this beauty in farmers that so many are willing to freely share knowledge and information. 

I found this quote Dr.Singh shared form National Geographic was quite profound: 

Still, storing seeds in banks to bail us out of future calamities is only a halfway measure. Equally worthy of saving is the hard-earned wisdom of the world's farmers, generations of whom crafted the seeds and breeds we now so covet. Perhaps the most precious and endangered resource is the knowledge stored in farmers' minds.

Land was briefly discussed, and it was noted that in the south there's significant land acquisition taking place. This acquisition is mostly for the purpose of carbon credits and sprawl. The soil quality doesn't contain any currency, much like our culture. The land is only worth as much as you can exploit it for. 

There were two stats from Asia that I found particularly interesting: 
  • In China and India there are 200,000,000 rice farmers. (Close to 6x the population of Canada) 
  • In India, 70% of their milk comes from farms that have 1 or 2 cows. 
As CBC reported (or sensationalized depending on your viewpoint), another part of the discussion was that we need to see a shift in our culture to spend more on food. When I asked him how we move people from where we are currently (most don't visit farmers markets, for example) he said two things that stood out to me: 
  • "Food can also be part of our entertainment" 
  • "We need to challenge Sobeys and Superstore and let them know that we want real food"
We should reevaluate the money that we're spending on our entertainment budget (movies, video games, vacations etc) and shift some of that into the food pile. If we do that in conjunction with increasing our social activities over food (dinner parties, pot lucks, etc) we could have a significant positive impact on our farmers, our culture, and our health. 

The Little Hippies That Could

Jeff and Debra Moore kicked things off after a delicious lunch from Papa Joe's. They founded Just Us Coffee Roasters Cooperative.   

Jeff first outlined how the quality of coffee dropped significantly during the 80's as the big players raced for the bottom in price. Once that happened, people started shifting to other carbonated beverages, namely colas.  

They started a fair trade coffee company. As they put it, they wanted to have a coffee producer that was "...not subsidized by economic and social injustice." They started by traveling around to local food stores and other retailers that would have them giving out samples to anyone interested. People were impressed by the quality of their product, and success was not far behind. 

"The worse industrial food becomes, the more large the opening for local producers"  

They then outlined how small producers have started to lose control over fair trade. As people started to demand fair trade products (thanks, Coldplay), corporations wanted to look responsible and join on part of this. Nestle famously had under 1% of its purchases as fair trade, but chose to market its fair trade coffee heavily to give the impression it was a fair trade company. As part of this influx of corporations, the fair trade price stayed stagnant for almost 20 years. Furthermore, multi-nationals would use this minimum price (per pound of coffee) as THE price, whereas smaller roasters like Just Us would use this price as the minimum. 

With all that said, Just Us products are now featured in Atlantic Superstores and business is booming with expansions planned. How did they break into the Superstores? "It only takes a couple of people to say something" said Debra. She explained how as few as one or two people would ask at their local store, and sure enough they'd get a call seeking product.  

This couple also had my two favorite quotes of the day: 
  • "Never trust a man who says he's the boss, because you don't know what else he'll lie to you about." 
  • "There's a lot of awareness but not a lot of solutions"  

What Did You Learn At School Today? 

We need to make better choices with our food. Not only that, but we need to hold our retailers accountable for what they're stocking the shelves with too. If your grocer isn't giving you healthy choices, talk to them! The much better option is to talk to a farmer though. Sure it might be slightly less convenient, but the positives for our culture, your health, and society as a whole are immeasurable. 

*Sorry, I can't resist puns sometimes.

Friday, 2 March 2012


At some point in my tweenage years a grown man punched me in the face. My friends and I were playing road hockey outside of his house. While I was in "the penalty box" (aka, the steps of my friends house) this man asked me "What's the matter with you, huh?" as I didn't run away when he came storming out of his home. When my friends saw this cranky man leave his home and come toward us, they instinctively ran. Apparently this "man" had a history of being the neighborhood crank - essentially the local Mr.Wilson. He left his home to shoo us off, I stayed on the steps as the egg timer on my penalty hadn't finished, he felt disrespected, and he punched me in the face.

I ran to my friends house crying with a bloody lip, and the police were called. The man was arrested, and put in the back of a police car. While in the back seat, he laid on his back and kicked the windows, eventually popping one out of place. Months later, an officer arrived at my home and delivered a subpoena to appear in court. The mere delivery of this summons sent tween me back into tears as I apparently hadn't resolved whatever issues I had around the incident. 

In the court room it was explained to the judge that the mans wife had recently had a dental procedure, that the man had drank much of a bottle of wine, and that otherwise he was an upstanding citizen. The Crown wanted a fine (a little over $1000 if memory serves me correctly). The defense wanted community service. The judge didn't even appear to take any time to think about the two options, and provided the man with ~100 hours of community service. I was shaken again. How does a grown man punch a child in the face, and only have to pick up a bit of garbage as a result? This was the day that whatever innocence I had left from parents divorce died.  

My friends and family were all aware of this and many of them found it to be absurd. A grown man punches a boy in the face and only has to pick up a bit of trash as a result? Outrageous. "In America, this would never happen. They'd throw this asshole in jail right away." This was a thought that I heard in some form on multiple occasions. Essentially that the Canadian justice system was broken if something like this could happen. 

I am nowhere near naive enough to think that mine is somehow a unique story. A story like this must happen almost every day in Canada, and six degrees of separation would tell us that everyone knows someone (or someone who knows someone) who's been through a similar incident. Perhaps not the grotesqueness of a man hitting a child, but of perceived injustice in our criminal system. Depending on the immediacy of relation they may even have completely emotional view of it. For example, "My brother was hit by a car, has to take pain medication for years, and the guy who did it is running around fancy free." 

So now we're faced with new crime legislation in Canada, that will soon become law. This story, and many like it, can serve to show that there is need for some reform of our criminal justice system. The Conservatives know this and have promised change for many years. 

The only problem with the changes they're proposing, is that they'll only make the situation worse. As outlined by the university of Ottawa, the CCLU, and the Canadian BAR association - the legislation which passed in December has many provisions that won't actually keep Canadians safer, but instead create more criminals. The bill follows the American blue print, which as their neighbors to the north we've seen fail over and over again. 

This is not a unique Americanization, however. Character assassinations have been frequent from Conservatives toward the last two Liberal leaders. Of course, when Vic Towes was called out for proclaiming family values while being a convicted criminal and adulterer, attacks on character were decried as inappropriate. When I try to think of political candidates promoting family values, only to act in the very nature they decry, I again think of our neighbors to the south. 

Recently, the robocalls scandal has been the flavor of the month. A conservative affiliated robocall company has been accused of making robocalls to Canadians misdirecting them from their voting locaton. Since this issue has become public, Elections Canada has indicated that it's received 31,000 contacts in regards to the issue. A few years ago I read a book by Allen Raymond called, "How To Rig An Election." In it, he took actions to try to stop people in liberal households from voting. They did this by targeting the campaigns though, not the voters directly. Conservatives, it seems, found a way to improve his methods.   

When bill C-30 was first discussed in the house of commons, Vic Towes channeled George W Bush, and proclaimed that people can either stand with the government, or with child pornographers.  

In another Bushism, scientists are being muzzled by the government. Remarkably as Nature journal points out, America has actually been improving in this regard while we're declining toward bush-era scientific regulations. 

I wrote a blog during election season where I noted that the conservatives were trying to convince us that a duck was actually a moose, and that I wasn't buying it. In that light, I'll start calling our country Camerica, as our government has clearly adopted many of the most unsavory themes from American style politics. These aren't just politics as usual in Canada, this is a systematic attack on how our democracy operates.

Camerica is a place where anecdotal evidence outweighs real evidence, where misdirection outweighs integrity, and the public service needs to be cut back - in every area but communications.  

When I was a tweenager hit in the face by an adult, I lost my innocence about humanity. The Harper Government has now taken away my innocence about governance. The first made me question the public's intentions, the latter has made me question their intelligence. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

So it begins

On Tuesday pitchers and catchers were required to report to Blue Jays spring training in Dunedin Florida. As a long time Jays fan, I have begun to apologize to my loved ones. This morning, as I threw my Jays T-Shirt on, I turned to my love and proclaimed, "Sorry - you're going to need to get used to this."

Being a sports fan is something that those who are not can rarely understand. As self-reflective as I may be, I can't exactly determine where this comes from. Google pointed me to this explanation, but no level of intellectualizing can properly convey exactly what it is to be a sports fan... in particular a Toronto sports fan.

The Curse Of The Torontonian 

Being born in Toronto, and raised to understand that The Leafs are "Gods team" creates an expectation of disappointment. This hockey season has played out like many:

  1. The Leafs start by winning more games than the fans expected
  2. Their fans/media expect the trend to continue, extrapolating the small sample size to continue throughout the year
  3. The Leafs fall back to where their talent should have them
  4. The fans/media freak out as their new found expectations aren't being met. A media circus ensues. 
  5. The Leafs fall even further back
  6. The fans/media proclaim that someone must be fired.
And this is just the horror of being a Leafs fan. Imagine being a Raptors fan! In existence for more than a decade, a good portion of their ticket/box holders are only doing so because they're required to for their Leafs obligations, American born players don't want to play in T.O. When it's all said and done, there's more players who have publicly asked to get out than there are play-off series won.

In fact, the only team in Toronto with any "recent" history of winning a championship is The Jays. This is only if your definition of "recent" is "within the last 20 years".

There are reasons for optimism in Blue Jay Land, however. Legitimate reasons, which is much more than we can say for fans of any other Toronto sports team. So without further adieu, I give you my thoughts on why the Blue Jays have a chance at making the post season.

Blue Jays 2012 Season 

As much as any fan over paying for internet/cellphones/cable with Rogers would like to think that the Blue Jays have unlimited resources, they do not. Rogers executives are looking to make money, and Paul Beeston (Jays President) has made it very clear that the payroll will only go up when revenues do.

This is why paying 8 million dollars for Jose Bautista instantly makes this team competitive. Jose was the AL Leader in:
  • Home Runs 
  • Slugging
  • Walks 
  •  On-Base + Slugging (In my opinion the most important stat in baseball) 
For 8 million dollars!!! That's 1/4 of what Alex Rodriguez is being paid. Not only that, but Jose is only in the second year of a 5 (team option 6) year contract. So whatever happens this year, there's a reason for long-term optimism. 

This isn't exactly breaking news, but the Jays year hinges on Bautista. Without him in the lineup, the middle of the order has no teeth. Pitchers can walk the lefties they don't want to face - and pounce on what is a weak collection of batters otherwise. With Bautista in the order, the 1/2 hitters will get pitches to hit since the starting pitcher sure as hell doesn't want to walk men on for Bautista to drive home. This will require some batters who aren't exactly free swingers at the top of the order for the team, which in itself may be a challenge. Even for Bautista, you could see as the year wore on and pitchers were less willing to give him a pitch to hit - he became somewhat more willing to go outside of the strike zone for a pitch to hit instead of just taking the walk that was handed to him. As Anthopolis noted in yesterday's Globe and Mail, Lawrie may also fall victim to this.

So I stated that this team has a chance to make a playoff run, but there was a reason I both bolded and italicized "chance". This requires so many things to go right that it can only be labelled as a chance, similar to that of hitting "00" in a roulette game.

JP Arencebia, Brett Lawrie, and (potentially) Eric Thames are all going to be sophomores this year. The Sophomore Curse is real, as close to 2/3's of rookie of the year winners regress in their second year. This means that two of these players should be expected to get worse, and potentially one could get better. Of course all three could excel, all three could regress, or any combination. However regression is the most likely outcome for each of these players. Add to this Kelly Johnson's striking out 26% of the time last year, and Adam Lind's strike out percentage nearing 20% - you start to wonder where the runs come from outside of Bautista.

But IF Rasmus gets his act together, the sophomores don't have a huge regression, and Bautista continues to produce - the offence could lead this team to the playoffs.

None of this even begins to address pitching, and I fear to dive into that subject as everything beyond Ricky Romero seems like a complete gamble. The only bright side to the off season was the aquisition of Santos, and even that feels like a gamble considering his youth. If that kid is the real deal, fixing some part of the 25 blown saves from 2011 would make a huge influence on the Jays playoff chances.

There's really only one thing that matters though:

How Many Games Do We Win? 

Vegas has the over/under at 80.5. With a gun to my head, I'd say under. However it's entirely possible that it could be ten games over, especially with an early acquisition of another big bat to protect Bautista.

Who Wins The Ring?

We will see many prognostications in this regard in the coming month, and none of them matter. There's a reason there's 162 games in a baseball season, and it's because the outcome of seven game series have too many values that could be attributed to luck. Forced to make a decision, I'd gamble on the Red Sox. The psychology of their slow start and finish last year set aside makes them prime candidates for a redemption tour.

Before I go, I need to get this off my chest...

Dear Pittsburgh Pirates:

Are you out of your freaking minds? AJ Burnett is a 500 pitcher, which he has been his entire career, and he's made millions of dollars on the expectation that eventually he'll be able to put it all together. Many teams have tried to get this guys head right, and many teams have failed. Why you would bring a cancer like that into your dressing room is beyond me, and why you would put him in a leadership position with all those young players seems even crazier. Whatever lack of success your team has this year I will attribute to AJ. Is that fair? Nope. Neither is what this man has been paid for his horrific consistency over the years. AJ is doomed to failure, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy every time he failed.

Monday, 20 February 2012

An Open Letter To Stephen Harper

Dear Mr.Harper, 

21st century politics seem to be your government's specialty. I'm a Canadian, an extremely proud Canadian. I've been to seven provinces, met many Canadians, and I have a great deal of trouble identifying how exactly your government is promoting Canadian values. 

First, your government accused anyone who opposed a bill that would mandate ISPs monitor all online activity of siding with child pornographers. Now, you're threatening the EU  for labeling the oil sands as polluting. One man's science is another man's inconvenient truth I guess. I also know that the economy is your top priority. This really does create a picture of what your Canada looks like. 

Is it the Canadian way to disregard the science and instead try to protect corporate oil interests? I understand that it's also an attempt to protect Canadian jobs, but at what point would the factual environmental impact of those jobs have an impact on your decision making? For example, if we knew that the world would end in 50 years if we continued production in the oil sands would you continue to protect economic interests? What if we knew that 30% of Albertans would die if we continued production, would the economy continue to take priority or would the health and safety of our countrymen take priority then? Does the answer to the previous question change if it's Quebecers dying? What if it was Africans dying? Would killing foreigners make your economic priority more reasonable? 

Of course, I'm not suggesting that when it comes to the oil sands you don't care about the health and safety of foreigners. Your view on abestos exports has already made it clear that you value the economy over the health and safety of foreigners.  

In regards to your "child pornography" bill - I've yet to see one piece of evidence come from this government outlining  previous cases that this bill would have facilitated the capture of child pornographers. It's my belief that until you are able to provide such evidence, you don't have a valid reason to force ISPs to create an infrastructure that will monitor everything every Canadian does online. Frankly, even if you could do so - Orwellian style laws like this don't jive with what I consider Canadian values. 

I'd note that it's some pretty slick politicking though. Bring out a bill that calls warrant-less surveillance "lawful access" and claim to be on the side of "lawful access". It's quite the political score to stand up in the house of commons in an outrage that the opposition is against lawful access in the pursuit of child pornographers. I also have no doubt that there will be a couple of changes made so your government can claim to have listened to the will of the people, but the fact that our ISPs are mandated to monitor everything we do online and provide warrant-less access to you will stay. I guess these are Conservative values, the kind that you try to claim are Canadian values. 

Remember, Mr.Harper - less than 40% of Canadians voted for you. To claim some kind of moral high ground on these issues would be silly. I'm happy that for the most part you do not. In fact, you've made it quite clear that the Economy is what you value most. 

Canadians value much more than profit, though. We value fairness, equity, sophistication in world view, and have an inherent desire to do the right thing. Thusfar, as much as you may like to claim otherwise, the values your government demonstrates are certainly not Canadian values. 


A Canadian With Very Different Values Than You

Saturday, 4 February 2012

London's Disappearing Middle Class

The London ON Catapilliar plant is now closing down. This after the union workers refused to take a 50% pay cut to continue on behalf of the multi-national corporation Caterpillar who earned record profits last year

The Global Economy

There's speculation that these jobs will be sent to Indiana where the people are willing to work for less. Regardless of where the jobs go, one would assume they're going somewhere because Caterpillar hasn't announced that they don't actually need these parts anymore, but instead that they're managing costs. These jobs and the wages that go with it aren't viewed as people with families and mortgages or even the backbone of a company as many multi-nationals like to claim, no these are a cost that can be reduced on a balance sheet.

Apple is a prime example of this. 13 Billion in profit on 46 Billion in sales. So about 28 percent of the sticker price of your shiny new apple product is straight profit... but Apple isn't interested in imrpoving the working conditions of the people making these products, nor are we interested in discontinuing to purchase them. People have literally died so that you and I can have an iPhone and a Macbook and so "investors" (See: The 1%) can get their 13 Billion dollars in profit.

"The Global Economy" often referenced by our political leaders and elder statesmen as the cornerstone of the new world we live in, is essentially legalized slave labor. So much of what we purchase is made in China or Indonesia but we don't have any reason to discontinue doing so since in many cases it's the only way anyone here could have anything. If your only job is working 40 hours a week at Walmart, how can you afford to buy anything anywhere BUT Walmart?  I'd suggest going back to my OWS post in November (specifically the "Ignorance" and "The System" sections for further elaboration on this)

The Liar Economy 

What exactly would happen to our economy if we started to enforce monopoly laws, and made things like "up to 50% off" illegal?  I believe in a free market economy where people want or need different things, and make deals where everyone wins. I get what I want, you get my money. I'm nothing short of disgusted by our economy where we advertise deceptively - and so long as it just stays barely within the law, you're good. At a certain point, an organization can completely forgo marketing their product - and instead just start trying to get you to buy emotions. Coke doesn't sell their product anymore. They create advertisements that illicit an emotion. Ideally, a positive one. "Awwwww those polar bears really love each other" - drop a Coke logo over top of it and voila. Coke doesn't need advertising to sell their product - but they market heavily to stop anyone else from getting in this game.

Right now you drink Coke? Good. Coke is happiness. Continue to drink it. Please don't actually start to pay attention to what you're thinking or feeling, we have pills for those emotions. All you need to know is that this "happy" thing they've told you about in story books as a child can be easily acquired with a purchase of a Coke. 

Giving me the illusion of happiness for my money isn't the same thing.

Some want to call it persuasion - but at some point we can just start calling it bullshit. "Talking Points" are standard practice in politics and corporate communications. What does it say about our society that a standard practice of two of the most influential societal structures of our time has found great success in not answering questions, but instead shifting to these points regardless of the question that's asked.

Our friends at Caterpillar aren't leaving because they can't afford to have a plant here. They're moving because there's a bunch of people that you and I will never meet who have a shit ton of money, and want more, regardless of the true costs. The Conservatives will tell these people to move west, where there's a whole other group of rich people ready to exploit them. My suggestion: Start your own business. Learn a trade, find some other small business in town that needs help, clean bathrooms, work on a farm - do ANYTHING but work for a multi-national. Sure, you might get a middle class wage for now - but when they can find someone in China to do it cheaper, they will... and soon enough there will be no middle class.