Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bubbling Away - Week 34,35 - Dec 19-Jan 3

Okay.  I let Christmas get the best of me.  Not much here.  I don't think anybody else was up to much either.

Remember.  The Conservatives didn't cause the bubble by relaxing mortgage approval policies...it's the bubble that caused them to not meet their unrealistic financial plans.

The Conservative government is summed up in the first couple of paragraphs in this article - "Little notice and no negotiation".  Myself, I have a hard time understanding exactly what these funding decisions for our health care means.  But I can clearly see that this isn't the right way to do things.  And when 2 of the 3 people that agree with you are Christy Clark and whichever Conservative lackey who happens to be running Alberta...

As with most Christmases, Stephen Harper lurks out of his hole in the dead of night and starts handing out patronage appointments while nobody is looking.

It was a mistake.  Honest.  We had no idea that we were phoning Liberal voters and telling them that their polling station had changed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taking the Lead on the Environment - Week 33 - Dec 12-19

China and India are suggesting that we're acting irresponsibly towards the environment by bailing on Kyoto.  I realize that there are many reasons to ignore anything that either country has to say about environmental stewardship...but...Wow.  Imagine if Herman Cain described your behaviour as "scandalous and inappropriate" or if Rupert Murdoch suggested you had "overstepped the boundaries of reasonable behaviour".  I think it would suggest that you are on the wrong path in life.  This Tyee story (and Salon)outlines some of the lobbying that has lead to decisions like this.

More on the Environment.  We'll have to dig back a ways here.  The Conservatives refused to bring any members of the opposition along to the UN Climate Summit (which, I'm assuming is generally custom).  And then, today, the Minister of Environment chided the NDP for not attending the UN Climate Summit.  It's amazing that the story is Justin Trudeau swearing.  If he hadn't, this wouldn't even be a story.  Nobody seems to have a problem with...is that even hypocrisy?  I don't know what to call it.

Oh my.  Gizmodo highlights why the F-35 program is a disaster that should be run away from.  Perhaps Peter McKay is excited about the hovering version and what that could mean for future fishing trips?

So, SOPA is kind of a big deal right now.  I think the Get Your Censor On take is my favourite.  I'd like to not worry about this, but, unfortunately, I know that once they ruin the US the Copyright Gestapo is going to come try and ruin Canada.  I think I may go throw a stick in a field as well.  These guys will never be happy.  These guys will stop at nothing to get whatever they want.  They will ruin the Internet and then they will ruin the Inter-Internet that springs up to replace it.

Irwin is pretty mad.  It seems the speaker agrees that the Conservatives are acting like jackasses ("reprehensible" even) but doesn't want to do anything about it.  At least he still has a job.  And finally, some tough talk on holding somebody accountable.  Of course, nobody in the Conservative government is responsible, but perhaps the polling firm that they hired will be?  And, officially, no problems here for the Conservatives.

The Globe is convinced that seat redistribution is going to ensure the next Conservative majority.  I think Ontario is tougher to predict than this story suggests.

 If we start focussing on how much per night our defense minister is spending on hotels we're missing the big picture.  I think it's reasonable that a high ranked Canadian official does not crash at the super 8 while hosting meetings at the local cafe.  I hope he's not responsible for booking his own rooms, as well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lack of Recognition - Week 32 - Dec 5-12

I've been working on my year end "best of" list.  Reading through the past, this stupid blog has gotten out of hand.  What started out as 4-5 posts with a whole lot of snark has turned into an information dump.  Honestly, these jackasses are just overwhelming me with terrible deeds that need to be discussed.  I don't have the time to craft decent snark about any of them.  I don't really know what to do.

What the hell is wrong with these guys?  Now they want to replace Kyoto with some other form of binding climate treaty?  They're like the Brett Favre of climate treaties.  It's just a complete embarrassment and a disaster and I'm not buying real estate in Richmond any time soon.  They're actually bragging about avoiding the $14 Billion in penalty charges that we'd have to pay if we actually agreed to follow through on Kyoto.  I can see the next Conservative ad campaign - "We avoided hundreds of years in jail time by no longer recongnizing the Geneva Conventions."

I always love cheap political outrages.  Who wouldn't get angry about people "cheating the immigration system".  All 2,100 of them.  As well, the ass-hats announce that you can't wear any form of veil during the swearing in ceremony.  Because you "may not actually be reciting the oath" if you're wearing one.  Because it's like you're joining the Night's Watch and if you don't actually say the words, it never happens.  And this is a super important thing that Canada should be worrying about right now.  Not that it matters...as you're more likely to end up on a terrorist watch list than a Canadian citizen if you insist on wearing a burqa.

Steve-O seems to be about doing whatever he wants because he happened to mention it once on the campaign trail.  I think the Canada-US security perimeter is him moving up to just doing what he wants regardless of never mentioning it at all on the campaign trail and negotiating in secret.  There's not much substance to what they are saying, but I can't help but fear what this means.  I don't think that fast-tracking food shipments is the end goal of what they're trying to accomplish her.  Even the RCMP seems a little concerned.

I think the Conservatives have lost Quebec.  Perhaps they've learned that it doesn't matter.  But, the fact that they're being shut out of commeration for L'Ecole Polytechnique massacre doesn't sound very positive.  Any other rational person would probably feel some sort of shame.

The Irwin Cotler affair gets worse.  Irwin says the Conservatives are basically paying their defeated candidate, with taxpayer money, to work as a shadow Parliamentarian.  Poor Irwin.  This whole thing reminds me of car salesmen.  You know the technique.  Talk to the person like they've already bought the car and you're just going through the motions.

Tough on Crime passes, and still no real indication of the costs.  I'm just waiting for their justification to be "well, we don't know how much the fighter jets are going to cost either, and we're moving ahead with that."

The Conservatives dig up a story about Bob Rae flying on a helicopter in 1992 to try to bail Peter McKay out of the doghouse.  It's pretty funny, actually.  I can just see them sitting around their computer (Mac or PC?), high-fiving and yelling "gotcha".  And he continues to get piled on.  Apparently, he took a similar flight a year before to "familiarize himself with search and rescue operations".  Like...almost the exact same area.  And just like this Seinfeld episode, he's going to put a stop to things by threatening to sue.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Liars - Week 31 - Nov 28 - Dec 5

This should be a bigger deal.  The Harper Government.  Steve-O says he never told anybody they had to use "The Harper Government" in official communication.  Well...actually...it sounds like he may have lied about that.  I just can't imagine that somebody in the PCO would have arbitrarily decided to move forward with something like this without approval from relatively high up.

Speaking of liars, Peter McKay!  Ya, a long planned operation to view search and rescue equipment in action?  Not so much.  A really expensive way to make his flight on time?  Yes.  Yes indeed.

Tough on Crime gets closer to completion and even some of the Conservatives seem to be rethinking portions of it.  As well, Statscan suggests that most Canadians aren't actually locking themselves in their homes through fear of crime.  93% of us feel safe from crime.  And, awesome quote located in this article - "We don't govern on the basis of statistics."  Or science.  Or public desires.  Or maybe even logic?

Guess who thinks torture is awesome?  CSIS!  Way to go, guys!

It doesn't sound like Canada is planning on becoming a world leader in environmental reform.  Indeed, "Kyoto is in the past".  And I agree that we need to get China involved, but we shouldn't use them as an excuse to not support anything.  But then... even China thinks we're making a hash of things.  And even China seems more willing to do something that we are.

Even though we elected a bunch of economic superstars (that's what they said, right?  That they would be good for the economy?), the jobless rate continues to move higher.

Speaking of Superstars, Steve-O announces his FIRST EVER meeting with native chiefs.  How is that possible?

A Canadian man improperly placed on the terror watch list takes the Canadian Government to task.  "You abandoned me for seven years – and you caused me all this suffering."  It's all a bit Kafkaesque, when you think about it.

The Americans discovered that we may have covered up news of a salmon virus a decade ago.  But don't worry.  The government assures us there are no problems with salmon stocks and fish farms are completely safe.

A nice summary of the F-35 situation from the Tyee.  Indeed, one of the comments asks the question "what are we planning on using these planes for anyhow?" and I am wondering the same thing myself.  We don't actually do much with our air force.  We might be able to over-run Mexico if it comes down to it.  But a few dozen high-tech planes isn't going to do much for us.  And the Americans continue to discover that the whole thing might be a bad idea.  Can't America make anything properly any more?

A former Chinese spy confirms that there is probably more rather than less in the Bob Dechert saga of the Chinese journalist.  What a bunch of jackasses.

This story makes me a bit sad.  It makes me think of Irwin Cotler as a bit of an "old Gill" from the Simpsons, as people plot to steal his job.  I guess we need to recognize that politics is nothing more than a game of demographics and marketing.  I love that forwarding a rumour is okay because "it's an honest answer to the question.  There have been rumours..".  I'm going to aks my neighbour to start a rumour that Stephen Harper eats a baby seal pup for breakfast every morning.  Then it will be true when I start telling people that there are rumours that Stephen Harper eats a baby seal pup for breakfast every morning.  More here.

An Edmonton Conservative MP has resigned from the Conservative caucus (yet still remains an MP) while he faces drunk driving charges.  Can't he just get out of the way and make way for a new robot?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ducking and Weaving - Week 30 - Nov 21-28

So, people have figured out that you're a liarTony Clement appears to get caught red-handed in the G8 spending debacle.  I really appreciate that there is a spelling mistake in the letter that his consituency office sent out seeking projects.  Of course, somehow the Conservatives will figure out a way to express outrage and blame the question answerer.

A story about the conditions of a James Bay reserve.  There's some interesting points raised in the comments.  I think this specific issue should be treated as a symptom rather than the problem.  But if this isn't a sign that our system in Canada is broken, I'm not sure what is.

Nobody is saying that the $47-Billion stimulus spend was a bad idea...they're just saying that we probably should have figured out a way to measure the effects of the spending.  The Conservatives disagree, of course, as they have some numbers that they created...?  I'm going to believe the Auditor General here, just because it helps forward my nefarious left wing agenda.

Canada becomes a part of what will most likely turn into an Iranian debacle.  What's the solution?  I have no idea.  This would probably be a whole lot easier if the last 10-12 years didn't happen.

I like to call this the Sarah Palining of politics - where no matter what the question is, you say whatever it is that you want to say as an answer.  Anyhow, apparently our Minister of Environment doesn't know what ozone is.

More bad news on the fighter jets as it sounds like there are some relatively major technical questions that have not been answered.  There's still some time to sort this stuff out, so I wouldn't be too concerned.  But still.  Software that would prevent the planes from bombing friendly troops sounds important enough to delay things.  It seems odd that we would have to wait until 2019 for this feature.

More bad news on the Omnibus crime bill.  "Dear Quebec:  We only care about what you have to say when we're begging for votes.  By the way.  You voted NDP.  Suck it.  Sincerely, Steve."  And...even the jerks who came up with the idea don't know how much the whole thing will cost.

Other people think the destruction of the gun registry is a bit dodgy.  The "Information Commissioner" weighs in.  Stupid civil servants getting in the way of progress!  Gawd.

Holy shit!  Are you kidding me?  The Conservatives want to make it easier for people to conduct a "citizen's arrest" and easier to claim "self defense"?  Ya, there's no chance that this is going to lead to anything bad.  This is not the direction that we want to go in.

Sometimes I love the Huffington Post.  A Conservative MP dozes off in the House of Commons as one of his buddies drones on.

There's just all sorts of things to feel a bit confused by on this.  Free trade with New Zealand.  Dairy tariffs.  It seems like in this day and age of global warming, imported dairy from New Zealand probably isn't the most responsible thing to do.

Inadvertant Assistance - Week 29 - Nov 14-21

This didn't get much play, but I think that this is a perfect little representation of this Government.  The Conservatives are upset because Quebec is benefitting from a bill that BC, Alberta and Ontario are supposed to benefit from.  Are they going to yell at Stephen Harper for bringing Quebec along on the trip to Dairy Queen as well?  Don't worry though, Cons.  There's a provision to take the ice cream away if their population doesn't keep up.

A memo has circulated within government suggesting that scrapping the gun registry could lead to an increase in illegal weapons crossing the border.  Of course, the Conservatives disagree.  Stupid "experts" getting in the way of positive change.  Who cares about assault rifles coming over the border anyhow.  I mean...if we try to put a lid on that I'm going to have to fill out a form and pay a one-time fee of $60.  What?  The fee is waived if I'm a hunter?  And I don't have to pay it when I renew?

Noted progressive activists (South Africa) are taking Canada to task for not supporting extending the Kyoto protocol.  Damn pinko bastards, making it hard for an honest country to make a living.

Hey.  Why not?  It worked in Guantanamo.  Part of the Omnibus crime legislation would eliminate visitation rights to inmates in segregation.  That, right there is going to cut back on serious amounts of crime.  Just last week, I was getting ready to steal some mangoes.  I stopped and I thought about it for a minute.  But then I was all like "I'll still get visitors if I end up in segregation."  So I pocketed those mangoes, shot the storekeeper and made a nice mango pudding for dessert.

An NDP MP says what we're all thinking.  Why is the story about an NDP MLA swearing?  Why isn't it about the Conservatives cutting off discussion on the budget?  I actually just took the trouble to log in to Twitter and follow him.  That brings my total for number of people that I follow to 7.  And my lone tweet is for an ICBC drivesmart contest to win a Fiat 500.  I'm so modern.  Further analysis from the Globe and Mail seems to get it right.

The Conservatives are planning to use a Wheat Board contingency fund, essentially money that belongs to the members of the wheat board, to pay for the dismantling of the Wheat Board.  Sorry.  Pay for the "shift to a free market".  That's sort of like the Indian charter company holding its passengers hostage in a foreign country for fuel money.  Actually.  No.  It's worse than that.

Even some of Steve-O's little buddies are starting to think that this support for asbestos mining doesn't make much sense.  Although, if abstaining from a vote counts as backbone these days, it's kind of sad.

Not about Canada...but a terrific Salon piece about Americaland and how the root of many of its problems can be traced back to a "blame the victim" mentality.  It is truly stunning. 

As well, the story links to a great page highlighting the actual numbers paid in taxes by the various classes in the US.  I'm actually most shocked that a $100,000 per year income puts you in the top 20% of American earners.  $140,000 in the top 10%.  The top 20% earn 60% of all American income.  This compares to 51% (by my calculations) for Canada.

Fighter Jets!  Now even the US is not 100% sure of their decision to purchase F-35's.  The key line in this article?  "Ottawa estimates its jets will cost between $70-million and $80-million each, even while acknowledging the current unit cost is well over $100-million (U.S.)."  Are they expecting a dramatic rise in the Canadian dollar?  I know everybody will find this to be an incredible surprise...but the Conservatives dismiss this criticism and assure us that everything is fine.

Next up for free trade?  Jordan and Panama!

This is a funny story.  Some Conservatives were late to a committee, a vote was held, the Conservatives lost.  Later on they re-voted and won.  And one of the late Conservatives may or may not be dating Dimitri Soudas.  I'm not sure why that matters.  But this story is funny.

And...never as simple as it sounds, but spending is up 22% since the Conservatives came to power.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Breaking Promises - Week 28 - Nov 7-14

Surprise, surprise.  Jim Flaherty hints that the Conservatives probably won't stick to their campaign promise of balancing the budget by ...oh god...who even knows where their promise is now.  2015?  2016?  It doesn't really seem to matter what the target is.  They won't reach it.  Wait.  It's official now.  And I could have this wrong...but they actually seem to be using this as as a chance to brag about their "flexibility" in dealing with the economy.  That's some mighty strong lemonade.  And this article points out all the other campaign promise dominoes that will fall because of this (income splitting, TFSA allotment increase, fitness tax credit, kids tax credit, fighter jets).

The Tyee has an opinion piece that makes my views on the Conservative government sound rosy and cheerful.  At this point, I think it's a bit of a stretch to claim initiatives to increase charitable giving are the first strikes in a plan to erode social programs.  But who knows?

It's hard to know what to think about the Air Canada labour dispute.  On one hand, you're playing with fire when you reject the deal recommended by your own union.  On the other, it's hard to bargain when you know the government/arbitrators are just going to impose something on you.

The Government seems to hint that there might actually be something to this whole "Global Warming" thing, and offer up $150 Million to study its effects over the next 5 years.  Not studying how to get rid of it, mind you.  Just studying its effects.

I'm all for eliminating vandalism to war memorials.  But creating specific laws related to "mischief" around war memorials?  Vandalism is a crime.  Punish it.  Let's not create a nefarious shadow group of laws that will allow us to throw somebody in jail if they pee a little bit too closely to a war memorial.  This cries out for abuse.  Are we going to paint a line around every war memorial to outline the "no mischief" area?

There's a projected 2-year delya in the F-35 Fighter Jets.  Of course, for the Conservatives, there's "no problem".  Just added costs.  And extended timelines.

More signs that Piracy is really hurting large entertainment companies.  The CEO of Viacom (Comedy Central, MTV, Paramount, etc) received a 148.6% raise and will now earn $84.5 Million per year.  Hard times, indeed.

There's a plea deal to the Conservative election funding fiasco.  Sounds like they get off pretty lightly.

A Globe article documents Canada's shift on Israel policy and UN votes.  It's a bit of an implicit criticism of the UN as well, in my mind.  Politicized vote after politicized vote, followed by a veto by somebody.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tom Haverford is the 1% - Week 27 - Oct 31 - Nov 7

Tom Haverford said the greatest thing the other day.  I'm not exactly sure how it relates to the current financial climate, but it feels about right.  "They say you gotta spend money to make money.  I don't know what went wrong.  We spent all our money."

First up, Steve-O's privacy justification for destroying everything and anything to do with the gun registry is shot down.  It's amazing when people use things that they absolutely hate as an excuse for doing something, itsn't it?  Just wait until he decides to ban freedom because of "the environment".  And once again those crazy "experts" are contradicting the Conservatives.

The Iraqi Information Minister (John Baird) sez "There's no problem with the 54,000 jobs lost last month.  Everything is fine."

Quebec tells the federal government to pound sand on costs associated with the new crime bill.  Which is right up there with Poutine on the list of awesome things that Quebec has done.

So, Canada has decided that it will punish UNESCO for recognizing Palestine by not providing them with any additional funding.  This is kind of why the UN is a bit of a joke.  There's just too many political statements.  Too many vetoes.  Too much deciding to just go along with the stuff that you agree with.

Wow.  It sounds like John Baird is actually taking responsibility for the G8 slush fund.  I'm not exactly sure what that means though.  Maybe he just wants to collect the air miles or something?

Tough on Crime splits the Provinces.  BC, Alberta and New Brunswick on board.  Ontario and Quebec opposed.  Wonder how they'll vote in the next election?

The Conservatives have decided to ban loans to political parties.  On the surface, this seems like a good thing.  More news on how much the Conservatives are ahead with fundraising as well.

And getting down to the serious business of governing, a Conservative MP decides to single out a Justin Trudeau speaking engagement at a Catholic High School (the big leagues) with taunts and name-calling.  I think "Bad Catholic" would be a great name for a hair metal band.  Wow...there's actually a "big beat/techno/christian" duo based on Vancouver called "To Bad Catholics".  My hair metal project will need a new name.

Lots more copyright stuff.  The Conservatives have admitted that their legislation probably isn't in the best interest of the average Canadian, but re-assure sceptics that most of the rules are unenforcable, so they shouldn't worry too much about it.  Oh, and all that doom-and-gloom about piracy destroying the entertainment industry?  Ya, not so much.

The Conservatives are going their own way with a non-french speaking auditor general, even though bilingualism is a prerequisite of the job.  He promises to learn french over the next year.  Why don't they wait until he does until they give him a job?   In other job appointment news, the next supreme court nominee promises to apply for law school once his post is confirmed.

It's a moratorium!  The Conservatives announce a 2-year moratorium on family reunification immigration applications as they attempt to clear the backlog.  At least they have a contingency plan (10 year visas for those affected).  Other moratoriums announced today:
- A two year moratorium on cancer treatments - The contingency pack includes a container of sunblock and a large hat.
- A two year moratorium on drivers licenses - The contingency pack includes a bus pass and a new pair of shoes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The 1 % - Week 24 - Oct 12-17

Okay.  Enough with the link roundups.  This start this week with something fresh.  There's been a lot of talk of income inequality in the US.  The Top 1% has 40% of the wealth, etc.  How does Canada fare.

There's no numbers here, but this graph shows we're not quite as bad as the US.  That's not quite what I'm looking for (The Gini coefficient does seem to be the standard for how these things are judged), but I guess it makes sense that we're somewhere in the middle, well behind Denmark but ahead of the US.  It does suggest that we're getting worse.
That Stat doesn't really cover things.  There's no nice comparable to the top 1% headline grabber in the US.  Digging deeper,  here is the motherload.  Let's got to page 73, table 8-1.  Assume 25 million people in Canada and that each household is 5 people.  That might not sound quite right, but the assumptions should balance out in the end.  So, 5 million households and each quintile is approximately 1 million.  Average household wage is $61,000.  Multiply that out, and we have $305 Billion in wages earned by Canadians.  Of that, the bottom 20% earns an average of $7,100 per year.  Which isn't much.  The top 20% earns an average of $156,300.  Let's multiply that out:

Bottom 20% - $7.1 Billion total earnings - 2.3% of total income
Top 20% - 156.3 Billion total earnings - 51% of total income

So the top 20% of Canadians earns 51% of the money in Canada.  Not sure about the top 1%.  And not sure about total "wealth".  This isn't quite as tidy as I'd hoped to make this, but the Globe and Mail doesn't seem to be able to put a nice little bow on this story eitherUpdate - According to this link, the top 20% of Americans earn 60% of the income.  Our bottom 20% is actually worse off than the US, who earn 3.5% of total income.

Guess who thinks the old Liberal Government did a great job of running Canada's finances?  Tony Clement!  It's funny what these guys will say when they don't think Canada is listnening.  Maybe Paul Martin will run for Liberal leader again?

I'm not really a union backer.  But I kind of agree that Canada Post workers got royally screwed and I think a lawsuit is a good idea.

John Baird...When you want to give the impression that you're in it for the little people, don't fly in to a country that you've just "liberated" with executives from oil & gas, pipeline and engineering firms.  It suggests that your motives may have been suspect.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dismissal of Criticism - Week 23 - Oct 3-11

Just for fun, I plugged "Harper Dismisses Criticism" (no quotations) into the old google machine.  I got 1,960,000 results.  That seems like a lot.

Update - Sorry...this is late, but it's my new favourite story of the week.  Stephen Harper requested 14 tickets for the Jets home opener.  They gave him 2.

I feel like any law is going to have weird, unintended consequences, no matter how noble it's intentions.  So, I'm not a fan of latching on to the obscure losers in the Copyright sweepstakes.  But...still...any law that gives blind people the shaft is probably not a great one.

Are there any consequences for this government?  Was it Patton Oswald who said of George Bush "I'd be happy if he accepted the blame for a chewing gum wrapper on the White House lawn at this point."?  Anyhow, Bob Dechert appears to walk away unscathed from his extra-marital dalliance with a foreign "journalist".

Stephen Harper annonces the demise of the per vote subsidy.  Ya...this is sure to cut back on the number of elections.  We'll see if they turn off the per-person limit as well.  Let's crunch some numbers...this is a bit of a wanky analysis, but we'll use their research.  From last year:

Conservatives - 17.4 Million Earned - 27.9 Million Subsidy - 45.3 Million Total
Liberals - 7 Million Earned - 14.3 Million Subsidy - 21.3 Million Total
NDP - 4.4 Million Earned - 9.5 Million Subsidy - 13.9 Million Total

If you look at the totals, Cons/Libs is about 2.12:1.  Cons/NDP is 3.25/1.  If you look at only the earned amount, Cons/Libs is about 2.48/1 and Cons/NDP is 3.95/1.  So, the Conservatives have increased their advantage, but it's perhaps not as extreme as some may think.  As well, the Conservatives had the most to gain with their increased vote numbers, and then probably the NDP.  Either way, the Liberals were going to take a funding hit.  It's actually probably not super bad news for them, as their competition is no longer getting a much larger cheque than they would have (their 14.3 Million subsidy would have been chopped while the Cons and NDP went up).  Unfortunately, I don't expect them to stop there.  After all, what's more democratic than letting anybody or any entity contribute as much money as they'd like?

I don't know what to think of this next one.  A private member's bill suggests that unions should be subject to financial disclosure laws.  Nobody seems to have a direct idea as to why this is bad, but it merely suggests the possibility of something bad that could potentially happen.  So I'm going to give him a pass on this one.

Why don't we hear more about the Elections Canada case against the Conservatives?  This less-than-mainstream publication points out that the trial is most likely to be delayed again.

The parties actually teamed up to make some headway on something!  The Liberals suggested a national suicide prevention strategy and the Conservatives agreed.

Remember the 50-million-dollar Muskoka slush fund?  Well, turns out Tony Clement was, for some reason, using his personal e-mail account to converse with the Mayor of Huntsville on exactly how he should be spending the money.  We only know this because somebody was able to track down the messages through the Mayor's e-mails.  And the Auditor General agrees that things don't really add up here.

Apparently the crazy new flag law wouldn't apply within Parliament Hill Offices.  As there's a law that supercedes that law that prevents flags from flying within the offices.  So, basically, the Parliamentary Precinct Standards would break the new flag though.  This is an outrage!  Why are the Parliamentary Precinct Standards so anti-Canadian?

Some crazy idiots want to know the details of the new Canada/US North American Security agreement.  Ya...like it matters what the US plans on doing on Canadian soil to increas their security.  Terrorism!  Illegal immigrants!  Isn't that enough information?  Now, what exactly is "perimeter security"?  I don't think they're talking about all of the people that sneak through the arctic.  They're probably not too concerned about boats flooding the various coastlines.  So I think they're probably talking about massive airport crackdowns.  And the "carrot" is that cross-boarder traffic and waits will be reduced?  Ya.  Probably.  And it's only a billion dollars.  Peanuts, really.

Maybe Stephen Harper is on to something with his War of 1812 education project?  It still seems a bit off to me, somehow.  But Canadians knowing a bit more about their history isn't really a bad thing.  I just don't really trust his reasons for doing this.

The Government expands its unwillingness to negotiate on RCMP deals out to Newfoundland and PEI.  I don't think that expanding the number of Provinces pissed off about a situation is a great bargaining tactic.

Bonus culture hits the public sector.  Tony Clement offers up fat bonuses (well...promises not to take away fat bonuses) to public service heads that help him make his cuts.  In similar budget cutting news, the government is expecting $200 in savings for every $1 spent on consultants.  Which nails it for me that these guys don't know what they're doing.  Have you ever worked with consultants?  I have no question that they'll come up with $200 in expected savings.  Unfortunately I expect that $200 will turn into a cup of coffee and a donut once reality hits.

Stephen Harper continues his rhetoric against the evelist of evils...The Canadian Wheat Board.  Indeed, the train "barreling down a prairie track" is going to stop for no-one, so you're better to "get on it than lie on the tracks."  Wait...is this about wheat or about trains?

Finally, this outlines some of the money spent in the last year to influence American decision makers on the Keystone pipeline.  This Government doesn't mind spending money or helping people out.  It just needs to be about oil.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Flexing the Muscles - Week 22 - Sept 26 - Oct 3

What an awesome way to set the tone for your new government.  Limit debate on your cornerstone piece of legislation to two days.  Way to suggest that you're eager to work with the other parties in Parliament.  Other ways Stephen Harper could suggest that he's eager to create a great working Government:
- Limit opposition party members to two appetizers at the next inter-Parliament mixer
- Limit visiters interaction with his kitten to two quick pats on the head
- Allow two questions from the media at each campaign stop during the next election campaign

Tough on Crime?  Tougher on the budget.  Just one of the Omnibus crime bills is going to end up costing a few billion dollars over the next five years.  The original estimate was a whole lot less.  And a BC Supreme Court Judge has suggested that the new legislation will become a "strain on the bench."

Things get worse for Peter MacKay.  He was the guest of a man recently named head of a crown corporation.  Which is pretty cozy.  And even worser...3 million worth of flights in the last 4 years?  Yikes.  Our buddy Steve comes to his defense...but his numbers don't really add up.

The Conservatives have lost their battle to close the Insite Safe Injection Site.  Which is pretty awesome.

Here's an interesting editorial pointing out some of the fallacies of "ethical oil".  I knew that tar sands require a crazy amount of energy to extract the oil (approximately 1/5 of the energy extracted is required for production), but this is the first I've heard that it requires crazy amounts of oil to extract the oil.

Another Conservative law to fix something that isn't a problem.  Some car-dealership-owning-Conservative-MP is proposing a private members bill that would prevent people from preventing other people from displaying the Canadian flag.  By giving them jail time.  Says the article "It is not clear how he came up with the bill and what his motivation for it is."  I guess he has personal experience with the scourge of flag-flying-prevention sweeping the nation.  Shouldn't there be some mechanism within the Conservative party to prevent rookie MP's from embarrassing themselves like this?

Speaking of backbench MP's speaking out when they shouldn't...one of them is rankled about some funding going to an organization that provides abortions.  And another one.

Well.  Here it is.  Copyright legislation has been tabled.  Exactly as it was before.  This will make it illegal for you to jailbreak your iPhone.  This is legislation that was dictated to the Canadian government by an American industry lobby.  This legislation is a result of the Canadian Government asking the US Government to produce more public pressure so that they could justify it to Canadians.  I don't think it's a great idea.

Here's a lesson in media bias.  From the Globe - "RCMP won't pull out of BC if Province signs on to new deal"  From the Vancouver Sun - "Feds threaten to withdraw BC RCMP services if as contract talks break down"   Sounds like good faith bargaining to me.

And NDP MP points out that we're about to sell nuclear assets for $15 Million...after pumping $183 Million into them.  Six months ago.

Stephen Harper has decided that a war that our country didn't even fight is worth a lot of celebration.  I don't really get it.  Yes, it shaped our nation.  So did glaciers and smallpox.

Lastly, Steve probably shouldn't go meddling in Provincial politics as a new poll suggests that his talk of a "Tory Trifecta" scared the hell out of people.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Laying Waste - Week 21 - Sept 19-26

It's the first week back in Parliament and Stephen Harper isn't even thereHe is busy in New York trying to prove that he is relevant on the international stage with his comments on Palestine.  He even earned a thank-you from Israel.

He also took some time to talk about the Keystone pipeline, and explained that it should be a "no brainer" for the US to approve it.  He's right.  Why wouldn't the US want a pipeline that magically gets filled with our raw, un-processed oil products?  Why would we agree to do this for them?  This is crazy, for so many reasons.  "Ethical Oil" and all that.  On a similar note, the Saudis are getting a little bit tired about the whole thing and the Canadian Government proves that they're nothing more than an industry mouthpiece.

First on the agenda, the Omnibus Crime Bill.  Stats Canada just revealed that our crime rates are the lowest that they've been since the 1970's.  Sounds like a good time to announce sweeping "fixes".  There's a good editorial here.

As well, the Tories have announced a $20-Million dollar contract (or $90,000 a day,as the Globe puts it) to "save money".  They didn't really follow standard government tendering protocols either.  Sometimes you have to spend money to save money...so I won't be too critical.

The former Chief Statistician comes out swinging over the decision to scrap the mandatory long form census.  Pssh.  Experts.  What do they know?  I mean...this guy probably only spent years in school and his entire career working on statistics and demographics, determining the best way to formulate a coherent picture of the make-up of our country so that we can best design government policy.  Why would his opinion matter?  More here and here.

Government waste doesn't count when it's your government doing the waste.  Apparently Peter Mackay used a search-and-rescue helicopter to fly home from a vacation at a remote fishing lodge.  But it's okay, because he was participating in a "search-and-rescue" demonstration.  A demonstration put together at the last minute.  At his request.  But he cut his vacation short because of it.  Oh...And a Challenger jet flight home on the same day.  I think Peter McKay is one of the better Conservatives out there...although it's kind of his fault we had the merger, isn't it?...it sounds like he had some support from military brass based on this link.  But it's still kind of stupid.

The Conservatives start to get serious on their talk about reducing/eliminating funding for the CBC.  I love that they go on Sun News to talk about it.

And speaking of dismantling...I don't really understand what the wheat board does.  I can wrap my head around the basics of why it might be desirable.  I can't for the life of me decide why somebody would put energy into getting rid of it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Final Quiet Week - Week 20 - Sept 12-19

It's kind of sad that it has taken this long for the Conservatives to "get down to business".  Week 21 will probably be a busy one.

Why is it always the Conservative politicians involved in sex scandals? (well, not always) And haven't they learned...never lie. You'll just get found out. Oh well. Harper, Baird and their buddy deserve what they get.  It's kind of ironic that one of Harper's only redeeming qualities (unflinching loyalty) could prove to cause him the most trouble.  China seems to be reading from the Stephen Harper playbook as well: Get angry at everybody else and deny that you've done anything wrong.  And then take your ball (person) home with you.

This is fairly direct evidence that "tough on crime" isn't that great of an idea.  And all you people upset that we haven't followed the UK's lead and immediately imprisoned all riot participants?  All those new prisoners has overwhelmed prisons and are leading to increased gang violence.  "Who cares if a bunch of prisoners beat up on each other?"  Well, they do have to leave prison at some point.  Your petty riot criminal is now a gang member with a taste for blood.  Like the seal on Arrested Development.

Just after September 11th is the perfect time to renew big brotheresque "anti-terror" laws and announce that, this time, they won't be going away.  There will be no sunset clauses in our next batch of police state laws.

It seems like the short form census participation was good.  But no word on the long form yet.  The short form is still mandatory, right?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Islamicism - Comin' to get us all - Week 19 - Sept 6-12

Oh Stephen. "The major threat to Canada is still islamicism"? Is that even a word? According to this, I have a 1 in 650,000 chance of being killed by a terrorist attack (while travelling...which must dramatically increase the odds). I have a 1 in 56,000 chance of being struck by lightning. Doesn't that make lightning the major threat to Canada? Add in forest fires caused by lighting...geez...this lighting stuff sounds pretty bad.

Sticking with the terror theme, September 11th has cost Canada approximately $92 Billion (the US is at $1.1 Trillion). And counting. Which is a crazy amount of money. As a Slate article said (or something along these lines) "there's no question that we aren't safer...but at what cost?" I guess it's easier to slam the barn door shut and tell everybody they're going to die if they don't nail a few boards up on the outside as well. Wouldn't we be better off if we spent even a portion of this money on other things?

Since I wrote the above, Slate has taken it a step further. There's tonnes of questions raised by this article, but the basic point is that the cost/benefit ratio of terrorism security spending is a joke. And we'd save far more lives if we spent that money someplace else. As the headline says, "How many terrorism plots would we have to foil to jusity our current spending on homeland security? 1,667 Time Square-Style Attacks Every Year." It actually goes on to suggest that blindly spending this money is immoral.

And what better time than on the 10 year anniversary of a terrorist attack that didn't happen in this country to announce that you're planning on introducing legislation that will allow you to imprison people without a warrant and imprison people if they don't testify in your secret trial?

The Harper Government rears it's ugly head again. This article claims to cite a directive issued by the Privy Council Office to start using the label "The Harper Government". Unfortunately, it's no smoking gun, but a reference to an unseen "directive". Hopefully some direct proof comes out at some point.

Apparently we're re-hanging portraits of the Queen in our embassies. Which is just bizarre. We're going to hang Charles goofy mug all over the place when he takes over? And their justification for doing so (other nations hang a portrait of their "Head of State")...this is a pretty awesome takedown, showing that other Commonwealth nations do no such thing.

And here we go. The first vow to re-introduce Copyright Legislation...exactly as it was worded before (and couldn't get passed). This will make it an offense to remove digital locks on devices and media that you "own". Want to transfer all of your kindle books to another device?Well, you'd have to break the Amazon DRM and that would be illegal. iTunes albums? If it's one of the small number that aren't DRM'd, you're fine. Otherwise...illegal. Oh, you want to jailbreak your iPhone that you paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars for because you don't like the way Apple forces you to run things? No sir. That would be super illegal. But why attempt to work with people and hear their opinions when you don't really have to?

And more copyright, more Wikileaks. Wikileaks cables indicate what we suspected all along, Canada is in the pocket of the US when it comes to copyright legislation and cares a lot more about what the US Government thinks than about what Canadians think. Tony Clement urges the US to add us to a piracy watch list, and then the piracy watch list is ussed to justify copyright reform? That's just scandalous.

Lastly, the Conservatives get to work dismissing concerns as "Ridiculous". The problem? One of their MP's used his official parliamentary e-mail address to tell an employee of the official Chinese State Media that she "looks so cute" with her "cheeks puffed." John Baird thinks you're an idiot if you have a problem with this.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Vacation - Week 18 - Aug 29-Sept6

It's been a slow week. I was on vacation. As well, it all seems to be about the Ontario election these days.

I had no idea that it was within the first 100 sitting days that the Conservatives planned on passing their Omnibus crime legislation. That's kind of cheating. It could be years before Parliament has sat for 100 days. Anyhow. People complaining that it does little to address victims of crime.

This...this is embarassing. A City Council report heaps blame onto the NHL for the Stanley Cup Riot. There's probably a grain of truth somewhere in there that the NHL should get more involved with helping avoid rioutous behaviour, but that's far different than accepting blame for the whole thing. This blog post makes some good points. And unfortunately, one report by city council, just like one riot by a bunch of assholes, tarnishes the entire cities reputation.

Monday, August 29, 2011

At least Christy Clark isn't our Prime Minister - Week 17 - Aug 22-29

Thank God for Wikileaks. The American Ambassador tends to say what we're all thinking. Here, he points out that Stephen Harper's trip to China (Circa 2007) didn't accomplish much except to "placate Canadian Business leaders". Bit of a theme there, no?

Turns out the Government didn't prevent a scientist from talking about her potentially critical fish farm work.

I'm not sure what I think of Canada's decision to skip the next World's Fair in South Korea. On one hand...I mean...would you have noticed if South Korea never showed up to Expo '86? On the other hand...I mean ten million dollars? Sounds like the cost of being a country, to me. Maybe we'll ask for our UN dues back next?

In BC News...Iain Black, who is apparently our now-Former Labour Minister, announces that he is quitting to become CEO for the Vancouver Board of Trade. "It would be a mistake to take away from this any notion that this is about turning my back on my colleages, my premier or my government." Really? What else is it? I also notice that he doesn't mention turning his back on the people that voted him in. Honestly, short of illness or family matters...how can you quit your job as an elected representative? You got elected on a promise to represent your riding and your voters. You knew that this was a four year commitment. It is not okay to quit because a sweet job opportunity comes along. Even if it's with Fox News. Okay...he thanks the riding here...but this is still a loser move.

So. Let's talk about the HST a bit. It kind of feels like we just shot the driver of the car that we're riding in. We showed him that we aren't very happy about the trip that we've embarked on, but it's probably not going to work out too well for us either. I did vote against the HST...but man is this every going to be terrible. Who knew that revenge wouldn't leave me feeling satisfied?

But, as I think about this a bit more and read the stories about how stupid British Columbia is...I think we all need to remember where the blame for this falls. This is 100% the fault of the BC Liberal government. They could have mentioned this massive tax change during their election campaign. They could have done something to address some of the no-longer-tax-exempt products. They could have actually tried to explain the benefits of the tax than in hoping it would go away and assuming we would roll over and accept it. They could have not allowed the whole thing to go to a referendum. They could have announced their 2% tax roll-back before it became nothing more than an attempt to buy the referendum. They could have not tried to pull one over on the Province with how they ran the election and funded it. It was all just so badly done, nobody is at fault but the Liberals. That they've now cost the Province billions and we're back to where we started is absolutely nobodies fault but the current BC Governments.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goodbye Jack - Week 16 - Aug 15-22

Wow. Jack Layton is dead. I don't think that I ever voted for the man myself (Vancouver Quadra is about as strategic as it comes...every vote has to count to keep the Conservatives out of this riding). But I always enjoyed his crazy optimism and passionate pursuit of what he believed in. I always thought that if he could have just shifted things a few degrees he would have been an unstoppable force. It's kind of nice that he was able to experience a pretty dramatic election "victory" before passing on. The strangest thing...I swear to god we saw Joy Macpheil standing outside the Darby's Cold Beer and Wine Store last night...like some sort of harbinger of doom.

The Conservatives start the week by taking on one of the real challenges facing this country: Lack of royal identity within the military. Yes, Peter Mackay has caught the royal fever and added the "Royal" back in to our military titles. Now, I don't want you to think that I'm one of these people that says things like "how can you worry about X when there's starving children in Africa!" I believe that human beings are capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, so taking on more than one problem should be alright. But this is just such a tremendous waste of time. I really don't get it. It offends me that this is a story.

Speaking of offensive...Harper makes gains in best Prime Minster rankings? Good lord. I thought...I thought...Oh man.

It's only taken a few months of killings and Obama to jump on board, but Stephen Harper thinks that the Syrian President should resign.

It's been a good couple of weeks for professional associations in Canada. Last week, lawyers told Stephen Harper his tough-on-crime agenda was stupid. This week, a group of doctors are encouraging a Conservative MP to respect her Hippocratic Oath and help change Conservative policy on asbestos. I think that's pretty awesome.

I heard about this story a few months ago. A North Vancouver man was arrested in Mexico and held without charge for 3 years (or so). They were rallying to try to get somebody from the Federal Government to help them out. They weren't having much luck. It seems like the Harper Government policy is that if you're accused of a crime in another country, you're on your own. Well, good news. The man was released. So if a Mexican judge can look at the evidence and decide that he's not guilty, you'd think that there would be enough doubt that the Canadian Government would deem him worthy of some sort of assistance?

Some BC Politics...I'm not a huge fan of politicizing the courts and criminal complaints. I happen to agree with Jim Chu that it might take some time to adequately sort out all of the charges related to the Stanley Cup Riot and that we will be better served by this in the end. I happen to think that the UK convicting and throwing people in jail within days of the riot is a bit scary and something I'd expect in Syria, not England. And I happen to think that Christy Clark should shut up and let the justice system do it's job without making political statements that will make it tougher for everybody to do their jobs. Because this (dramatic spikes in prison population, excessively harsh sentencing) doesn't sound like the way to do things.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Harper Gets a Brazilian - Week 15 - Aug 8-15

Oh. I wish it was true. Some Brazilian newspapers have reported that Stephen Harper locked himself in a bathroom and wouldn't come out until the Brazilian government agreed to change the schedule for lunchtime toasts.

This whole South/Central American junket is confusing to me. He's gone to Brazil and encouraged trade. He's gone to Columbia, signed a free trade deal (coffee and cocaine?), suggested human rights concerns are a "front" and anybody opposing this is a "protectionist". Then he went to Costa Rica and announced that our free trade deal will be re-opened (why was it closed) and "security aid". On to Honduras, where he is working on a free trade deal with a country that underwent a coup in 2009. Is he living out his childhood dream to backpack through the Americas?

Awesome. The Harper Government actually has their own ex-Bloc member that they forgot about. But don't worry. It's okay because he's not their leader. Just a cabinet minister.

It doesn't get talked about much, but the Omnibus crime legislation that will be "rushed through" (by parliamentary standards) includes a whole lot of Internet monitoring under the heading of "Cyber Investigation". Some people are advocating that we hold off on that and talk about it a little bit. Which sounds reasonable. Unfortunately, it will be pretty easy for the Conservatives to paint anybody that questions any of this as "soft on crime". Because if you don't blindly go along with something sold as "tough on crime" you're automatically for child pornography. Because those are the only people that use the Internet, right?

You know who else doesn't think that Stephen Harper's "Tough on Crime" bill is a good idea? The Canadian Bar Association. But what do lawyers know about the law, anyhow? The Conservative response? No, no. You're wrong. Mandatory sentences are "reasonable". International experts seem to agree with the lawyers as well.

More asbestos. The Conservatives are threatening to sue a widow whose husband died of asbestos related ailments over unauthorized use of the Conservative logo in an online ad. I almost feel a bit sorry for them. There's not really a way to come out of this one looking good. Other than doing the right thing and phasing out the export of asbestos. Don't worry though. The mayor of Sarnia has her back.

Food inspection services are being cut. Shouldn't the meat producers be paying for this sort of thing? Meh. What's a bit of e-coli floating around in our meat if we can save a few million bucks.

Sorry. More copyright. But honestly, if you think this doesn't affect you...Please just read the first page of this article. This is where the US is with copyright. A legally blind man with children 4 & 6 years old is being sued for downloading a porno movie because he left his wi-fi open. The cheap option: pay a few thousand dollars in shakedown money to make the case go away. The expensive option: spend a few months in court fighting it. The more expensive option: spend a few months in court fighting it and then pay $150,000 if you lose the case. Luckily even Canada proposes to limit the amount of damages in the event of a copyright lawsuit. But you can't want this. You can't think that this is a good model to use for our system of copyright laws.

I'm going to get way, way off topic here. God, there's just so many great articles out there about what is wrong with the world economic system. This one is about how Germany ties in to the whole European economic mess. Money quote, from the head of Commerzbank - “Why should you pay $20 million to a 32-year-old trader? He uses the office space, the I.T., the business card with a first-class name on it. If I take the business card away from that guy he would probably sell hot dogs.” That's just priceless. And the article will make you cry.

Wow. There's a Toronto City Councillor that makes the Ford brothers look sane. Ranting about "layabouts" and "communists" is never a very good idea. And all of them snubbed a library opening. At least these guys aren't running the country. No, that job is left to their idealogical BBQ buddies.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jets & Guns - Week 14 - Aug 2-8

So Canada finally got it's shit together and decided the Conservatives aren't so great. Unfortunately, it comes in a poll some 3+ years removed from the next election. Interesting that the Liberals fare better when they have no real leader.

This story goes all over the place: Tory Arts Funding, the Ford Brothers, Stephen Harper, Margaret Atwood, Library Funding. I think the key piece for me is that Stephen Harper is buddies with the Ford brothers. Hopefully people remember that when Toronto blows up in their (the Ford Brothers) faces. I really need to start reading more Margaret Atwood. Oh, the Harper Government response to Margaret Atwood? It's all your fault and we're outraged!

The cops gave David Eby a ticket for riding his bicycle without a bell. I hope he becomes Mayor.

Back to the HST, it scares me a bit that Pollsters are essentially saying that the whole process is too crazy for them to even attempt a poll.

I apologize. More copyright. I just can't help myself. A great interview in the Georgia Straight with Cory Doctorow from Boingboing. He breaks down many of the shortcomings of the inevitable Copyright reforms that are coming. The ones that have been in past bills. The ones that will be in future bills. The basic premise - Canada's copyright reforms are composed to help the massive content companies - record labels, tv stations, movie studios, etc. They will do almost nothing to help artists or consumers and will most likely harm both of those groups. I don't know about you, but I don't think government policy should be created to help the giant, evil middle-men that screwed consumers and artists for so long.

I really enjoyed this headling on Gizmodo: The Pentagon Spends More Money Fixing Rusty Old Shit than Canada Spends on Its entire Military. I'm actually suprised we spend that much.

A good Huffington Post link (written by?) about the perils of the new Canadian fighter jet contract. It also points out that there are numerous technical problems that have grounded existing F-35's. I've read a bit about this over the past few months, but I thought most of the problems were with with the new F-22's (30 hours of maintenance for every hour of flying? Yikes.). Incidentally, I found this link while trying to figure out the difference between an F-22 (air superiority) and an F-35 (multi-role combat) and it scares me a bit. Doesn't it feel like information you shouldn't know?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Long live cats - Week 13 - July 25-Aug 2

Is it possible that the record industry might actually start exhibiting logic and reason? Probably not, but this ex-EMI boss is apparently aware that pirates are "our best customers" and that "piracy" and sharing can in fact be good for business. My personal feeling is that if the record industry hadn't raped consumers for years with 20 dollar CD's there is no way that they'd be in the position where they are now. As well, the French copyright authority has conducted a study and determined that pirates are also the best customers.

I'm not trying to turn this into a Copyright blog, but there's an interesting Slate article outlining the history of the "Happy Birthday Song", questioning Warner Music's claim to the copyright. I think it is a nice expose of all that is wrong with our modern copyright system, especially in this day and age of completely derivative music.

Jack Layton has cancer. "Can the NDP survive Jack Layton's health crisis?" the headline says. Unfortunately, if there was an election in the next month or two, I would think not. I can actually see Stephen Harper up late at night trying to figure out a way to blame the minority opposition for triggering another election. Wait...we might have it...apparently, the "temporary replacement" for Jack Layton was a member of the Bloc Quebecois before becoming an NDP MP. That should be enough right there for old Steve to call a fresh election.

Back to British Columbia. I believe HST is the right thing to do. I also believe that Christy Clark and the Liberals think that we're incredibly stupid. This whole process is flawed and borderline crooked. But, as our plant controller pointed out to me, "there is no way that BC will be able to pay back the money provided by the national government if we move away from the HST." I agree with this statement. There would be worlds of trouble if we give up on the HST. But I think it would be worth it just to see Christy Clark attempt to spin referendum defeat as a positive.

Apparently Jason Kenney failed high school geography. He thought that when the Tamil refugees said that they wanted to go to New Zealand that it was a part of Canada. His reasoning? Human smugglers don't "guarantee the destination." So basically "There's a chance that they could have come here, even though they didn't want to." In other Jason Kenney news: Toronto considered for starting stage of 2014 Tour de France. Barack Obama considers move to Canada once his time is up at the White House. Prince William considers permanent relocation to Canada once his military service is complete. Hey, there's a chance, right? No guarantees.

John Baird caught the royal fever too and ordered a couple of paintings in the Department of Foreign Affairs lobby to be taken down and a portrait of the queen installed in their place. I love the description of the "faint outlines of the works still visible on the brown stone wall." Huffington Post has a picture.

This article is a depressingly optimistic take on Canadian politics
. The premise is that we're incredibly lucky to have Stephen Harper, compared to the political farce overtaking the US and Britain. Sadly, I do agree with what he is saying. But it's sad to admit to being happy in such a "lesser of all evils" kind of way.

Another Canadian Citizen is held in a foreign jail under suspect circumstances and the Harper Government does nothing. Over potatoes!

The tech world is busy mocking us over our Prime Minister's fascination with posting cat photos on the internet. I'm most curious about where he developed his photography skills.

Elizabeth May is railing about Wi-Fi, Smart Meters and the disappearance of bees. This is the kind of stuff that is going to cause Canada to tune you out. But I will give her points for creativity. Who knew Smart Meters were bad because I'd get cancer and no longer be able to enjoy flowering crops?

Here is a Tyee article about the Canadian Government actively making life difficult for a climate change focussed artist attempting to put a show on in Europe. How very odd. In the comments section of that article there was a link to an article about the Harper Government preventing a Department of Fisheries scientist from talking about her work (related to salmon die-off) in public. Crazy stuff.

Lastly, apparently the City of Vancouver is proposing a "Clean Crack Pipe" program. I thought this was an Onion article. I like it though. It's going to send the Conservatives absolutely over the top. Update - Actually, Vancouver is behind the times. Calgary and Winnepeg are already doing this...and being questioned on it.