Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

Weekly Highlights from our Conservative Overlords

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.