Monday, December 29, 2008

$35 is Way Too Much for a DVD

The other day, I was walking through the video store doing some Christmas shopping and I bought a DVD, Journey to the Centre of the Earth for $17. Unremarkable except that it was 50% off. There were all kinds of DVDs at the store for $35, I just rolled my eyes and dismissed it because I was in the mall. Just this past weekend I was strolling through my local video store and I saw new release movies on sale there for $32.99. It appears these prices are the real thing, someone in Hollywood actually thinks that's the price they can charge for a new DVD. Guess again, you guys are pricing yourselves out of the market. I've bought more new DVD's than I need and I'll often buy a DVD even after I've already seen the movie. I don't need to buy them and at $35 I promise you I won't. Give your head a shake, no wonder so many people download movies instead.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Disgusting Politics

I'm often disappointed when I hear average people run down politicians as crooked. I have the highest regard for many of them who I know personally and I know they bring integrity to their own lives and their political careers.

Unfortunately days like today make it easy to understand why people are cynical. The Democratic Governor of Illinois appeared in court today after being arrested on charges of corruption. Federal Investigators taped his phone lines and reportedly have evidence of him attempting to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. It's absolutely disgusting, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was right when he declared today is a "sad day for government. . . Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a new low, this conduct would make [Abraham] Lincoln roll over in his grave."

I hope this guy does jail time.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Very Good Day for the Conservatives

If you're Canadian, you surely know that Stephen Harper survived and will continue to be the Prime Minister until at least January 29. This is good news because it will give cooler heads a chance to prevail.

I thought the odds that Michaelle Jean would prorogue Parliament were better than even. First, it would have been a huge constitutional precedent for a Governor General to refuse the request of the Prime Minister. Second she would have opened herself up to a torrent of personal criticism as a Liberal patronage appointee and wife of a prominent Quebec Separatist, prematurely handing power to the Liberal - Separatist coalition would have looked awful.

I never expected that the 'coalition' would start to fall apart so quickly. The Canadian Press reports:

Liberal resolve to topple the Conservative government began crumbling today almost immediately after Prime Minister Stephen Harper won a stay of execution. Within an hour of Governor General Michaelle Jean agreeing to suspend Parliament until Jan. 26, some Grit MPs were pulling back from the idea of trying to replace the Tory regime with a Liberal-NDP coalition propped up by the Bloc Quebecois.

Toronto MP Jim Karygiannis bluntly asserted that Liberals blew their chance to take down the government.“We did have that. It didn’t work. Who are we kidding here?” said Karygiannis. “I think it’s over.”

So the government survived, and if the Conservatives continue to appease a large enough segment of the opposition they will likely survive the Winter session. The stability is probably the best thing that could have happened in the short and medium term.

I hope that Stephen Harper is humbled and that the Conservatives and the willing members of the Liberal caucus focus on governing. Had I written anything yesterday, my advice to Stephen Harper would have been stack the Senate to make sure there aren't any vacancies for Dion to offer to Liberal insiders. I've changed my mind now I say hang back and just stick to the business of governing. You don't often get a second chance in Politics, Stephen Harper should use it wisely and recognise that he'll need to be conciliatory if he wants his minority government to survive.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Truly Shameful Actions

Here's an excellent post about the people who trampled a WalMart employee to death last Friday. Cory Heildeberger has a way with words and sums up my thoughts exactly:

The facts: about 2000 bargain hunters lined up at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart on Long Island in the wee hours Friday morning. They started pushing, busted the doors open a few minutes early, and trampled Mr. Damour to death. The sale-crazed shoppers put four other people in the hospital, including a pregnant woman. The rushing crowd also pushed aside workers who tried to assist Damour and others. Minutes later, when the store announced everyone had to leave due to the death and injuries, shoppers complained that they had been in line since Thursday morning and kept shopping.

The meaning: this is what unbridled consumerism gets us. 2,000 people participated in mass murder... or murder by the savage masses. 2,000 people killed a man, not for justice, not in some understandable (excusable?) panic from fire or flood, but for greed. It is sufficiently idiotic that in their burning desire to accumulate more cheap plastic junk from China, these Long Islanders—these fellow Americans—sacrificed sleep, family time, and even in some cases the entire Thanksgiving holiday. But Friday morning, they sacrificed a life, and their own humanity.

I truly hope that all those responsible take time to reflect on the gravity of what they've done. They are responsible for killing someone because of their selfishness. Unfortunately they probably won't, if they were disposed to reflection they would have been spending the time giving thanks for what they already had. Those of us who are disposed to personal reflection have an opportunity examine our own consciences even if we didn't stampede anyone. I can think of an example from just a few weeks ago where I was ready to jostle my way into the line to get on an airplane before my wife said no it's pointless.

Lord, help me be more courteous and forgive me for the times when I have let my selfishness make me less of a person.

No Good Can Come of This

I'll admit it's taken me a while to digest this news of a potential coalition government led by Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. When I first heard the news last week, I just discounted it believing there would be absolutely no way those 3 parties could work together. As it sunk in that these guys could be serious a creeping sense of panic has ensued.

I can think of nothing worse for this country than to have a laundry list of socialist hand outs, bail outs and cop outs. The resulting fiscal mess and uncertain political environment will only further discourage investment in our economy and drive risk averse businesses away. I maintain that the only thing that is unifying these 3 leaders is frustration of being constantly out-witted by Stephen Harper. Once they get beyond their cynical power grab and financially crippling spending spree, the 'coalition' will be incredibly unstable full of infighting and it will fall apart in months.

That said, I can't help but admire the opposition leaders for this power play. Regardless of the outcome they have seriously wounded Stephen Harper. He deserved to have his wrist slapped after talking all Fall about being conciliatory and cooperative, and then pushing forward with a legislation to cripple his opponents. I'm not happy that he pulled that stunt, it would have been fair game if he was transparent about his plans to govern as if he had a strong mandate, but the move seems dishonest after all the warm-fuzzy, 'let's all get along' talk.

My message to the opposition leaders is this. Congratulations! You've made your point and you've humbled Stephen Harper. You've won the day and by retaining the right to topple the government at any time you'll be able to keep the government in check. But please give the Conservatives a chance to govern, they won a solid minority and the people of Canada deserve to have their voice respected. and with all the economic uncertainty stability is in the Canada's best interest.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Killing Section 13 is Not Enough

There is a rapidly emerging political consensus that section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act needs to be repealed. The Act regulates so called hate speech and has been used to attempt to silence individuals who have written a simple letter to the editor and more recently popular political commentators such as Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn.

Recently a review by Richard Moon, a long time supporter of the Human Rights Commissions, also recommended that Section 13 be repealed. Once again, Liberal MP Keith Martin has put forward a private members bill to do just that.

These are all excellent developments. Governments have no place deciding what is and is not fair political discourse. BUT, as the tide turns against the Human Rights Commissions, it's time for a complete overhaul of these kangaroo courts. These commissions have attacked individual liberty and promoted special interests particularly a homosexual agenda using many other avenues besides the infamous section 13. A Knights of Columbus hall was ordered to allow a Lesbian 'wedding' reception; numerous cities that were forced to declare gay pride day; and a private print shop that was ordered to print objectionable material are all victims of Human Rights Commissions gone wild using some of their other powers.

If there really is political will to reign in these commissions now is no time for half measures.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pity the British

Say it ain't so:

LONDON (AP) - Britain is considering a ban on "happy hour" discounts at bars and
restaurants to curb drinking, a spokesman said Saturday, as health advocates warned that a rise in liver-related deaths among young people may signal a future epidemic.

Health officials will decide on whether to ban the happy hours - designated times for discount drinks - once an independent policy review is published in coming weeks, a health department spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.

The proposal was one of several aimed at stemming a trend in binge drinking in recent years, particularly among teenagers and young adults. The government also plans to spend 10 million pounds ($15 million) on a new public awareness campaign, and wants to improve enforcement of laws against underage drinking.

Even worse:
They are considering a ban on a number of practices, including drinking games and speed-drinking events popular at some British pubs.
What's this world coming to?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Answered Prayer - Driving in Europe

I was recently on vacation for a few days in Portugal where we rented a car for a week, which was risky by itself. On the highway while I was driving 140 KM/h, I spent more time looking in my rear view mirrors than through the windshield, I'm certain cars passed me going over 200. Then there was that taxi ride down the massive hill in Coimbra through narrow one lane streets, but that's another story.

Through a series of events we found ourselves driving into Lisbon looking for our hotel on the night before we were going to catch an early morning flight. We had the street address for our hotel, but no map and no directions. To add insult to injury, I wasn't used to roundabouts at every intersection, and there seemed to be a distinct lack of street signs in the entire country. After we had circled the city once and stopped at a McDonald's for dinner and directions, the staff were very helpful and we thought we were on our way.

About 45 minutes later we realized we were hopelessly lost and we started praying that God would help us find our hotel somehow. We pulled into another McDonald's, this time I asked the girl at the counter if she spoke English, she said "a little" but it was clear no one behind the counter could understand a word I was saying. Then the guy beside me offered to translate, I told him I was trying to find my hotel and I showed him the address. He recognized this address but he said this is very difficult to get to from here. He started to give me directions but then he stopped.

Then, he said, "Why don't I lead you there?" We gladly accepted and we followed him through some crazy intersections and large roundabouts, all the time he was very careful not to lose us. As we drove we said to each other, God's really answered our prayers and sent us an angel to guide us home. After about 20 minutes he turned on his 4 way flashers and we pulled up beside him at an intersection and he told us this was the spot. We thanked him and asked him his name.

He smiled and said, "My name is Gabriel."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Answered Prayers

I should have written this post a few weeks ago when the stories were more fresh in my mind. I was just going to let it go, but a recent experience has convinced me it's worth writing about.

First off I had a number of difficult phone calls to make at work one day, I was a little nervous so I said a prayer before making the calls. I don't know why or how but each call went far better than expected with the reaction being, "Yes! I was just going to call you about the same thing." Our interests coincided perfectly in each case even though there were several different issues.

On the drive home that night I was on a country highway going at a safe but healthy speed when I went over the hill I saw the police cruiser sitting on the opposite side of the road. I got a huge lump in my throat when the officer quickly spun around and started catching up with me, I prayed, "God please get me out of this!" The cruiser kept following me as we approached town I was certain the siren would turn on and that would be it. But the lights never turned on and I arrived home 5 minutes later with no ticket.

Later that evening a close friend called and I shared the story. They said, funny you should mention that, "My mother in law was in the hospital for the past 3 days with kidney problems and a serious reaction to her medication, she was going down hill fast and we stayed up all night praying that she would recover. Today she's awake and alert and the doctors say she may be ready to come home tomorrow."

Needless to say, that was an amazing, faith-building day. Hopefully I'll get the chance to write about the more recent cool story soon.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Shameful Tactics at the University of Guelph

I only found out about this today as I casually saw the front page of today's Guelph Mercury. The University of Guelph's Central Student Association (CSA) revoked official club status for Life-Wise, Guelph's pro-life club, and on hearing an appeal of the decision the board of governors was not able to come to a conclusion.

The Guelph Mercury was right to condemn the CSA's decision noting:

For an ostensibly "pro-choice" entity, the Central Student Association at the University of Guelph has made an incredibly ill-advised choice in pulling the accreditation of a campus anti-abortion club. . . . Through its action, the student association's board has signalled that "freedom of choice" in this instance is limited to just one side of the extremely controversial debate about abortion -- and that's not the anti-abortion side.

Exactly right. I don't understand how the inherent contradiction is not obvious to this student society as they state in the same breath, I'm 'pro choice', and you don't have the right to form/choose an opinion. It's enough to make your brain explode.

I still think/hope that they will come to the right decision, however, the very fact that the CSA wants to silence opposing viewpoints is a sad commentary on the student leadership at Guelph.

Monday, October 27, 2008

When Will we Kill (or at Least Neuter) Human Rights Commissions?

This is wrong. Just wrong. The Canadian thought police are at it again, but this time they aren't just picking on a poor print shop owner or a right wing blogger. According to Ezra Levant, they're going after a former member of parliament. It's a relatively short article, and it's tough to pull out the most relevant part but this should give you a sense of the story:

In Saskatchewan, the CHRC [Canadian Human Rights Commission] is prosecuting a former Member of Parliament for politically incorrect mail that he sent to constituents five years ago.

Jim Pankiw, an MP who served from 1997 to 2004, is on trial for sending out flyers criticizing Indian crime in Saskatchewan. If convicted, Pankiw can face massive fines. He could also face other orders, ranging from a forced apology to a lifetime ban on commenting about aboriginal issues. If Pankiw refuses to comply with such an order, he could serve time in jail.

. . .

It’s unlikely that Pankiw will win, because the CHRC isn’t a real court, and real defences don’t apply. It’s presided over by a non-judge, and the hearing is stacked with every kind of politically correct apparatchik around. Take one of the “experts” relied upon by the CHRC, Derek Smith of Carleton University. As Terry O’Neill reported when the complaint was filed more than four years ago, Smith found proof of Pankiw’s racism in the colour of ink used in the brochures: black and red, on white paper.

Those are “colours very much associated with aboriginal people, for whom four colours have come to be associate with the four cardinal directions and have great spiritual significance,” wrote Smith. “One can hardly claim that the symbolism in this pamphlet is not inflammatory.”

Honestly this is scary stuff. Elsewhere in the article, Ezra rightly points out that MPs are given greater freedom of speech than ordinary Canadians through Parliamentary privilege. If they can't publish flyers on a legitimate election issue, then what about the rest of us?

It's time to reign these lunatics in. Now.

Incidentally, this is not new. It's been an issue for years and it's becoming mainstream. Back in the spring I had a post about Rick Mercer letting Canadians know about this travesty of justice.

It's Funny Because it's True!

I haven't heard it as much this year with all the Obamania, but there always seems to be some Hollywood star that threatens to move to Canada if the Republicans win. This video let's them know just how welcome they are!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Mornings May Never be the Same!

Our Church had a Hallow e'en fundraiser last Friday. It was a great success, must have had 1/3 of all the couples in the parish there. I was amazed by the creativity of the costumes. Actually it was really stiff competition, we had to settle for runners up in the best couple's costume category. We just couldn't compete with the couple that came as the cheerleaders from Will Ferrel's old Saturday Night Live skit, the perfect cheer. We certainly couldn't compete with their dancing! Other competition came from Indiana Jones and Laura Croft, Old Elpaso Salsa and the Nacho Man, A Football and Basketball player, and a Hippie couple where the husband wore an authentic baby blue leisure suit.

Our Priest, Father Jack Sparrow, had one of the best individual costumes, while the biker gang, super-safe cyclists, and the 50's table were awesome groups.

I expected an entertaining evening, but by letting loose with the people we usually just smile politely at, I had way more fun than I would ever have imagined. We'll definitely go again next year.

The only thing was that mass this morning seemed different. It's probably something about imagining a reader in Western gear and a Eucharistic minister in blue leather pants!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why The Election Mattered

I've heard it said repeatedly that this election was a waste of time and money. One of my favourite commenters has even said it repeatedly. Well nonsense. In the spring session of parliament the Bloc, NDP, and Liberals threatened to defeat every government bill. Stephen Harper responded by making every vote a confidence motion, and the opposition parties would eventually give up and allow the bill to pass. It was workable enough, in fact it wasn't substantially different than the earlier sessions when the tactics were similar.

The big difference this time was the volume of the oppostition. Based on their bravado, the opposition parties would almost certainly defeated the government this fall. The election was a matter of when not if.

Critics will say that the result is still the same, nothing has changed. Again that's simply not true. Stephen Harper gained a strengthen minority government. While they're rebuilding, the opposition Liberals will have to ensure the Conservatives can push forward they're agenda, so we're guaranteed to have an effective government for at least a couple years.

The leaders that matter are sounding pretty conciliatory right now, and I believe Stephen Harper can be either cooperative or ruthless, so it's going to be up to the Liberals to set the tone. Either way the Conservative agenda will go through.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Victory in Kitchener Centre


YEAH! Stephen Woodworth won in Kitchener Centre by 339 votes. I'm elated to have such a strong conservative and such a good man on his way to Parliament. Congratulations Stephen!

I'm deeply satisfied with my decision to help out in Kitchener instead of in my own riding. Michael Chong earned another massive mandate with 57.6% of the vote, so he managed to do OK without my help.

It's really late, but I'm very happy! I may be late for work in the morning.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For the Record . . .

I predict a Conservative majority in today's election. Given my track record that's maybe not saying a lot, but I believe it will happen especially with today's strength on the markets easing people's fears. I'll be doing my part to get out the vote in Kitchener Centre.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Informed Opinion Says Vote Conservative.

The endorsements for Stephen Harper have come fast and furious. The Economist, an international magazine based in Britain started things off on Thursday with the ringing endorsement, Stephen Harper does not deserve to be dumped. Despite their distance, they've actually a good read on the situation:
Canadians have not warmed to him [Harper]: he comes over as a bloodless control
freak. But he is hardworking, and a skilled parliamentary tactician. He governs a rather successful country that needs incremental improvement, not a revolution.
The Globe and Mail has a similar, though less entertaining assessment. Identifying many of Harper's faults, they also state that he's a competent leader. More importantly they identify that Harper has been able to grow in office:

Indeed, the most important characteristic Mr. Harper has shown over 33 months in
office is a capacity to grow. There is no reason to think he won't continue along the same trajectory if re-elected — a good thing, too, since there is much more for him to learn. . . .

Whatever you think of him, the Stephen Harper of today is not the Stephen Harper of 2004 or earlier. The "firewall" temperament has largely subsided, despite the odd recurrence on matters such as artists who choose free expression over popularity. He is in better control of his emotions. He is smart enough and adaptable enough to recognize that his tendencies toward pettiness and hyper-partisanship hold him and his party back.

By and large, Canadians still don't really trust Mr. Harper and so he has not yet earned their comfort with a majority government. If he prevails next Tuesday, it will be as a default choice, not a popular choice. Voters generally respect him — and, right now, competence trumps the unknown — but if he ever hopes to complete the
construction of a governing party of the right and be remembered as more than a middling, minority prime minister, Mr. Harper will have to show as much capacity to grow over the next four years as he has over the past four.

It's true there are reasons to doubt Stephen Harper. He's incredibly shrewd and I'm sure that he will change his mind on any issue if he sees an advantage, the Globe calls this 'growing'. However, even though I've been disappointed on some issues - beginning with his decision to merge the Canadian Alliance and PC parties - his judgement has been incredibly sound.

The Vancouver Sun has also joined the chorus summing up the decision quite neatly:

While the Liberals and NDP have tried to use the economic uncertainty to their advantage, it's clear to most Canadians that our government can't be blamed for the downdrafts we are starting to feel here.

That understanding defines the economic issue as "who can best manage the economy in uncertain times," rather than "who is responsible for the mess we're in."

This has been the Conservative message. Steady leadership for uncertain times. It's the right answer especially since the markets in New York posted their largest one day gain ever today, proving Stephen Harper's calm reaction to the recent weakness in markets was once again the right decision.

Finally the strongest endorsement from a national newspaper belongs to the National Post. The National Post slams into the Liberals hard and provides a new take on why it's best to vote Conservative:

Most importantly of all, Mr. Harper has avoided the temptation to impose any large-scale Trudeauvian social-engineering schemes on the country, of the type the Liberals seem to cook up every few years. Yesterday's Tory platform, largely a rehash of previous announcements, is admirably stingy. It contains no multi-billion-dollar pharmacare program, no federally micromanaged daycare, no new National Energy Program. And for that, Canadians should be thankful.

It's true, and very similar to the point I made in my last post. Too often politicians are trying to sell us a new bold agenda that is taking us some place we don't want to go (think Green Shift).

So, I'm not going to tell you how you should vote ~ cough Conservative cough ~ but bear in mind that most major publications in this country have offered solid reasons to vote Conservative today!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Social Policy in the Election

I haven't blogged much on the election this past week. One big reason is I'm upset at Harper's complete refusal to even let his MPs bring up the topic of abortion. I think it shows a contempt of parliament, and a contempt for many of his supporters, donors and volunteers.

However, I think it's useful to think about the reason he made that claim. Harper felt the need to insulate himself from the claims he has a hidden agenda to radically change Canadian social policy. I just don't understand how that can stick, he's had three years to try to push an agenda and he hasn't done anything.

I understand social policy is divisive and most people would rather just not talk about it. In real life, neither do I. For this reason, the opposition has a lot of incentive to make Harper look like an extremist. After all, it's worked before. The only problem is it's a pile of hooey. If you want to avoid difficult social issues, the only way to vote is Conservative.

The left has plenty of social issues they want to press. Liberal senators are regularly pushing for euthanasia. The NDP and the Greens are for decriminalizing drugs. Further down the line are polygamy and legal prostitution.

As much as I would like him too, Harper is not going to push the abortion issue, but he won't push the other issues either and that's a very good thing.

Life Chain in KW

Sunday was a beautiful day for the Life Chain in Kitchener. I've been to a number of pro-life events on King St. in front of Grand River Hospital, but today seemed different. Maybe because we're in the middle of an election campaign, maybe it was just the fresh fall air, but there was an energy that isn't always there. Approximately 150 people sacrificed a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to stand for life and speak out against abortion. Notable was the vast range in age, there were a few less of the old pro life stalwarts and a lot more young people and new families.

Lots of cars honked the horns, many happy honks, and a few less happy honks. Many people waived most with a smile, some with a few fingers missing. And there were a lot of people who just turned and looked and then started a conversation in their car. So I think it's safe to say that the people in the traffic seemed more engaged than during other years.

There were also two small things that I've never seen before. First a great big bus full of passengers honked the horn again and again passing the whole block as the bus driver waived. Second about 30 minutes into the event a small car stopped suddenly and a girl who looked about 16 years old jumped out of the car started talking to her friends and picked up a sign of her own!

Talk about results, and all we had to do was stand around and enjoy the fresh fall air!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Strengthened at Mass

There's a big meeting that will determine the future of my company today. It will likely have an impact on my career. I can envision more negative outcomes than posititive ones. Naturally, this has been weighing on me for a while. So part of the second reading at Mass yesterday was more than welcome:
Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of
God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ
Thanks, St. Paul, I needed that.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Crazy Talk

See my earlier post, Maybe They Should All Resign. A couple days ago there was more crazy talk from the Liberals that another Conservative candidate, Alice Wong, should resign. Here's the scandal:

Wong is alleged to have donated to the group, attended fundraising dinners and been a member and fundraiser for Defend Marriage in B.C., a twin organization.

Wong spoke alongside K-John Cheung of the family values association at an August 2003 rally against Bill C-250, which added sexual orientation to hate-speech laws.

Now wait a second, defend marriage was a big, mainstream effort to defend the definition of marriage as a man and a woman. Opponents of Bill C-250 sought to protect free speech. The ridiculous assertion that Alice Wong should be silenced because she stands for free speech, proves just how necessary her actions are. I'll be watching the results from her riding on election day.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Knocking on Doors in Kitchener Centre

On Monday night I went door to door for Stephen Woodworth in Kitchener Centre. The Liberal candidate won last time by about 11%, but with the Conservatives lead in the polls it will be a very close race for certain. Just a few observations:

  • If the poll I walked was any indication, the riding will go solidly Conservative.
  • Stephen Harper's biggest problems seem to be with voters that I would have suspected would lean Conservative. The first door I knocked on, the person who answered the door said he normally voted Conservative, but wasn't sure because he was very upset that the Order of Canada was given to Henry Morgentaler. Another voter was really upset because they thought the election wasn't necessary.
  • It takes all kinds. There was one house with a Green party sign, and 4 big gas guzzling vehicles parked in the driveway.

Last thing, I forgot how much I enjoy doing the real work of an election campaign. I definitely hope to be out a few more times and of course on Election Day!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Maybe They Should All Resign

Today the Liberals are calling for the resignation of another NDP candidate. The candidate's crime was calling someone a bad name on Facebook.

On Thursday the NDP said a conservative candidate should resign for connecting immigrants with crime.

On Wednesday the Liberals dumped one of their candidates for some seriously nutty comments about the September 11 attacks on the US.

As of now there have been 8 candidates that have quit or been fired since the campaign begun. Some of the incidents were extreme, but many of the incidents are for old quotes from the distant past. Two of the dismissed candidates made comments nearly 20 years ago about conflicts with natives in Quebec. I'm almost too young to remember the Oka standoff with natives, but I know the military was involved and I can imagine people would have made some heated comments that they would like to take back later. The comments were surely wrong, and the candidates should never have said them, I'm sure now they wish they didn't.

But here's the thing, people say stupid things. Some people say a lot of stupid things. Politicians get to be quoted when they stupid things, and today with blogs like this one we all have the power to create a permanent record of the stupid things we may say. Saying something stupid should not disqualify you from public office - If it did it would only be a short matter of time until almost every politician was booted from office. The only ones left would be some hangers-on that haven't ever said or done anything significant, and I don't think these are the people we want to run our country.

I say unless there has been an actual crime committed, let them run. Voters are more than capable of deciding if they want someone who has controversial opinions to represent them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Arts Funding Controversy

So the election campaign has finally started to get a little bit of life to it. Unfortunately, it's surrounding one of the least important issues of the campaign. If you ask me that is. Jack Layton disagrees he says:

"Mr. Harper says that protecting artists and funding the arts is a waste of taxpayers' money," Layton told reporters. "We say the arts are at the core of the economy."
Core of the economy? We're talking about $45 million dollars of cuts that have already happened and that most Canadians haven't noticed . Compare that to the $700 BILLION the US government is talking about investing in its banking sector or that Canada's GDP is estimated at $1.3 TRILLION. My point is simply that this is by no means the core of the economy Jack. It's a tiny issue.

Justin Trudeau has claimed that arts is an $85 billion industry so even by that measure the $45 million that people are talking about is less than a tenth of one percent of the value of this industry. It's small potatoes and yet the NDP, Liberals, and Bloc, are acting as if Stephen Harper declared that all music and film studios, museums and art galleries would close over night.

Stephen Harper is reading the country right when he says:
"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see ... a
bunch of people at a rich gala ... all subsidized by the taxpayers -- claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have gone up -- I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people."
Don't get me wrong I appreciate art, but the only time this funding has been in the news over the past 10 years has been when the funding has gone to either an extremely offensive project or an extensively wasteful government purchase.

I'm trying to be impartial in this election, but this rag-tag group of opposition politicians is just making this too difficult.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sign War

All the major parties finally have at least 1 election sign up in my town now. 2 weeks into the campaign that's actually news, before last Friday (Sept 19) the only signs in the entire town were blue. Maybe there will be a race - maybe, but probably not in this riding.

Nora the Piano Playing Kitty.

We interupt the election campaign coverage to bring you Nora the Piano Playing kitty!

The sequel is worth watching too. One day, I hope to be able to play an instrument as well as Nora.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Greens are Worse than the Liberals

I don't plan to write a lot about the Green Party because they are mostly irrelevant. However, their promises to increase the GST, and institute a carbon tax are predictable and will be costly to Canadians. Their claim that the carbon tax increase will be offset by income tax cuts sounds all too familiar and is just as uncredible as the Liberals claims. Sounds like more of the same from the loopy left, except the Greens offer the added bonus of legalized pot.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Worth Staying in Afghanistan

I didn't write about it last week and I should have. The Conservatives' announcement that they will pull all troops out of Afghanistan by 2011 is a bloody shame. A Toronto Star Headline highlights the bitter irony well: Afghan war worth fighting . . . but only until 2011. Thomas Walkom is right when he says, "Logically, this position makes no sense. If this is a war worth fighting, we should stay until the job is done. If it is not, then we should exit as quickly as possible."

Stephen Harper has spent several years rightly defending the mission. The mission was just and remains important for the people of Afghanistan and for protecting our country against Islamist terrorists. The Canadian Forces are behind the mission, we have heard constantly from the parents of soldiers who have died how they supported this mission. It really does seem to be a betrayal of the sacrifice that's happened already especially when the mission is not complete.

It's strange that Peter MacKay sounds like he could be Stephane Dion here:

"We will … be there, and the role will change," he said, "We'll emphasize the humanitarian aspect, continue with training, continue with our people there that
are both with the domestic police and maybe on the military side to build … capacity."

Some Canadian soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after 2011, MacKay said, primarily working on training and reconstruction.

"We have combat engineers that are there helping with the Dahla dam, we have people building roads and supervising some of the training exercises that go on but the emphasis will change, and that's consistent with the parliamentary resolution."

C'mon guys, you've been showing real leadership on this issue for years, now you've fallen back to some lame humanitarian aide is as good as military support. How spineless.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Parental Leave Program Will Really Help

Stephen Harper's promise today to extend parental leave to self employed Canadians is an excellent idea that will help encourage families to choose small businesses at a time when many people are faced with starting a new career after layoffs or downsizing.

To start his day, Harper visited a spa partly owned by female entrepreneur Angela Macheado. Harper used that event as visual prelude to announce that his government would allow self-employed Canadians to opt in to the employment
insurance fund in order to qualify for parental leave benefits.

"Ironically, self-employed Canadians who are successful and who create jobs must pay into the EI system on behalf of their employees, but cannot access those benefits themselves. This is not right," Harper said.

"Self-employed Canadians, and those who one day hope to be, shouldn't have to choose between starting a family and starting a business because of government policy."

Self-employed persons would have to opt in at least six months prior to making any claim. The independent Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board will set premiums and other details at a later date.

Today's promise meets the Conservative's standard of "tangible, meaningful and affordable announcements." It is very tangible and meaningful to small business owners and professionals with several contracts as opposed to one full time job. If you are operating your business this way and then choose to have a baby, you currently earn nothing for the time you have off, whearas people with a full time job get one year's worth of benefits. It can make the decision to start a small business and the decision to start or grow your family very difficult. This announcement makes both decisions easier and makes government policy more fair.

Today's announcement is affordable for governments too, because those who opt into the program still pay premiums. Naturally it will cost the Employment Insurance more because it's voluntary and families that are planning to have children will be more likely to opt in. Still, the overall cost will be very manageable while the benefit for those affected will be very real.

Well done Stephen.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mashline Girl - "I've got a crush on Harper"

If you have a second, you've gotta listen to this song. It's so over the top it's funny.

Unfortunately it's a knock off of an Obama campaign song, which is kinda creepy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guess I'm Just Another Stupid Canadian

So Green Party leader Elizabeth May gets to be part of the debate. Hoo-rah! Now we have to listen to this election's number one loose cannon while we're trying to make a serious decision. This short clip shows us what Elizabeth May thinks of us:

Here's the quote: Canadian Politicians are scared to use the word tax and they think Canadians are stupid, and I fundamentally agree with that assesment!

Hey Liz - The feeling is mutual.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Election Day II

Today was certainly an improvement on Day 1. The Conservatives have come out with a plan to make cut the diesel excise tax in half. The program is pretty much symbolic and liberal MP Dan McTeague rightly points out that the increase in GST collected on diesel because of rising prices will mostly offset this tax cut. Still this is timely and responsive and it will hopefully partially stem the effect of rising shipping costs on inflation. Harper gets the impact this is having on prices in general: "At a time when Canadians are concerned about affordability, and energy prices are rising, we should do what we can to lower prices. This has to be done."

The Liberals came out with a solid policy too. They want to throw more money away at the wasteful court challenges program. It's bad ideas like this that make me thankful the Conservatives are in power. The Conservatives killed this program back in 2006, and I'm thankful it's dead. Essentially the program funded left wing activists in their bid to change our laws by over ruling the legislature. It's anti-democratic at it's very heart, with promises like this Dion will make my decision this election very easy!

Monday, September 08, 2008

And They're Off . . .

. . . to a terribly disappointing start to the election campaign.

I'll pick on the Conservatives first. They started the day with a 6:00 AM press conference so that they could define the agenda of the day's campaign. What was so important? They wanted to tell Canadian's that the Liberal plan to introduce a carbon tax, take away the $1,200 per year child tax benefit, and possibly raise the GST would cost Canadians a lot of money. Uh really? Raising taxes costs us money, we get it. Even if we were a little slow, you've only spent countless dollars on radio and gas pump adds to convince us. Canadians are already convinced that Harper is a better leader than Stephan Dion, and we know the carbon tax is ill timed and expensive. Now is the time for the Conservatives to tell Canadians what they would do with a majority government if they get it. Stephen, we're almost ready - BUT nobody is going to give you a blank cheque - tell us what you are going to offer us!

My second gripe with the Conservatives is why did you call the election on Sunday? Couldn't you wait just one more day?

OK, now for the Liberals. Stephan Dion is making it too easy for the Conservatives. He's presented a real plan for change, even if it is ill advised. The Conservatives gave Dion a gift by making today all about him. What does he do? He whines like a school boy:

"They are piling their lies upon lies," he said. "They are unable to stop to lie. Canadians will not accept that."

Dion also said the Conservatives have misrepresented his environmental plan to combat global warming, adding that he wants a serious debate with Harper on the issue. He called on the prime minister not to "try to win an election by lying."

Oh my, what a baby. Canadians will not elect someone Prime Minister who debates like a two year old.

My message to all the politicians this campaign: Please just tell us what you're going to do, throw some mud that makes things interesting, but you have to earn my vote and that means letting me know what your plan is in case you win.

H/T: It's my one stop shock for links to election coverage.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Listening to John McCain

Yeah I'm pumped now! Just finished listening to John McCain. I only caught the last 15 minutes, but I ate up every word I heard. He outlined his commitment to free trade and to help those people who have their jobs displaced. He outlined his common sense energy policy that commits to drilling for more oil, creating new nuclear power plants and investing in renewable energy alternatives.

I was touched by how he described his time in a Vietnamese POW camp saying, "I was blessed by misfortune." His depth of experience is real, and it shone through in this speech!

No doubt he successfully energized his base by talking about the issues that are important to them and his call to action, "Nothing brings greater happiness than to serve a cause greater than yourself."

Combined with his brilliant move to appoint governor Palin as his running mate, he's already exceeded my expectations and has launched what I hope (and now dare to believe) will be a successful campaign.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Howdy Pilgrims

We were treated for a special treat after Mass when we visited Formosa yesterday. A group of
World Youth Day Pilgrims were sharing their story of how they had travelled to Australia in Juy and carried on to Fiji for a service project afterward.

They told us how the theme for the event was taken from Acts 1:8 "You will recieve power whent the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses." The theme seems somewhat prophetic, because on Sunday this small group stood in front of hundreds of people sharing stories of how they were able to energized bythe Pope and by each other, how they experienced God's providence through the hospitality of their hosts, and how they relied on God to overcome minor hardships and sickness during their travels.

The pilgrims have already been witnesses to the people of Australia where the papal mass was the largest gathering of people in a single place in the history of Australia. Now they will be witnesses at home to their family, friends and others in their parish.

I pray that everyone who participated in WYD 2008 will have many opportunities to share their faith and their experiences from their pilgrimage. No doubt the memories will be with them forever, my memories of World Youth Day 2002 are as clear as ever, and I only had to travel a few miles rather than flying half way accross the world.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Now That Didn't Take Long

Looks like folks were a little quick to press the panic button on food prices. This story from India reports that excellent crops, and higher plantings are already easing the food crisis in that part of the world. The story reports:

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- A worldwide food crisis that sent prices of wheat, rice and corn to records and sparked riots from Haiti to Ivory Coast may be over after farmers boosted plantings, a top official in India's food ministry said.

``I don't think there's a crisis now,'' said T. Nanda Kumar, the country's food secretary, who is responsible for formulating food security policy in the world's second-most populous nation. ``Food will be available.''


Record soybean crops in China and India, an almost doubling of wheat production in Australia, and bigger rice harvests in Thailand and Vietnam have eased shortfalls this year.

The global production outlook for wheat and soybeans is ``very good,'' while rice is still expensive, Kumar said in a New Delhi interview Aug. 18. ``Rice is softening, but I don't think it has softened adequately.''

To be sure there's a lot that goes into the reason for the recent drop in food commodity prices from their record high levels, including a stronger US dollar, lower energy prices, and good growing weather. But, the article is clear that there's also been a real supply response in areas of the world with less developed agriculture.

I thought we'd have to wait at least until the next growing season to see a supply response to the record high prices, however apparently even the more modest price increases we saw in the early spring were enough to generate this response. The bloomberg article credits an 83 year old scientist, Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, with saying, "the solution to higher farm output lies in providing better remuneration to growers." It seems he's been proven right, and even more quickly than I expected.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tony Clement is Right

As the largest contributor to the World Health Organization, Canada's opinion matters. Last week Tony Clement, Canada's Health Minister, made the government's position clear with respect to government sponsored injection sites for illegal drugs. Minister Clement said, "Allowing and/or encouraging people to inject heroin into their veins is not harm reduction, it is the opposite. … We believe it is a form of harm addition.” He is absolutely right, providing not just clean needles, but a government sanctioned safe zone where addicts can take illegal drugs without fear of prosecution sends a mixed message about what our society thinks and makes it easier for addicts to continue with their life risking behaviour.

The Economist has a good report on the effectiveness of Canada's only 'safe injection site' in Vancouver:

BACK in 2003 many residents of Vancouver reckoned that an answer had finally been found to the worsening hard-drug problem in the liberal-minded city’s downtown Eastside district. A reformist city council, borrowing a European idea, opened the first supervised heroin-injection clinic in North America. It was set up as a research experiment, with a three-year remit (since twice extended). The idea was that giving addicts a safe place to inject themselves would remove them from crime, disease and other risks, and make them more amenable to treatment. The Liberals who were then running the federal government agreed, and blessed Insite, as the project is called, with C$1.5m (then worth $1.1m) and a vital exemption from drug laws.

Five years on, Insite has proved a disappointment to many in Vancouver. It has also become the object of partisan conflict. The Conservative federal government of Stephen Harper dislikes the project. A committee set up to advise it on the issue found that only about 500 of Vancouver’s 8,000 addicts use Insite each day, and fewer than 10% of those use it for all their injections. It found no clear evidence of any increase in treatment, nor of any fall in HIV cases. It did estimate that the project might have saved one life per year but found that overdose deaths were still about 50 a year among addicts. Crime continues unabated as addicts steal to feed their habits, something which frustrates the local police.

So there is close to no benefit to the drug users, or societ at large by providing the injection site. At the same time, the injection site makes it easier for addicts to continue feeding their addiction. Tony Clement should be applauded for taking a stand saying, “We're not prepared to allow people to die” by condoning their continued drug use.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Paris Hilton is Funny and Intelligent . . .

. . . in her new video spoof of a John McCain Ad at

It's timely, funny and relevant. She even sounds coherent when she describes her 'energy policy.' I'm not sure how she pulled that off. From my perspective the most controversial thing she said is: "I'm hot." I'm not sure I can think of a number of women I know that are significantly hotter than Paris Hilton. I can even think of a few celebrities, like Jessica Simpson.

Anyway for reference you can find the original ad here, it's called "celeb." It's actually a very fair add that highlights just how hollow Obama is. You can also check out a two other videos on John McCain's website are "the one" and "the Obama Iraq Document."

Friday, August 01, 2008

Is That Really the Way to Measure Happiness?

I read an article today that claimed women are less happy at mid life than men. The Ottawa Citizen Reports:

The researchers looked at several decades of surveys that asked what people wanted out of life and which of those things they had. Happiness, Ms. Plagnol said, is determined by measuring the difference between the two -- in other words, whether or not people have what they say they want.

After controlling for year of birth and demographics such as race and education, the authors specifically looked at two areas: family life and finances.

"Virtually all studies agree that family life and finances are among the most important in determining happiness," the study reads.

Financial happiness was determined by how many of 10 big-ticket consumer goods -- including a car, a TV, a vacation home and a pool -- people had that they also considered part of a good life.

So if I understand this properly, if I say I want a big house, a beautiful wife, a fancy car, and lots of kids and I have all those things, then the study authors pronounce me "happy." If I have 3/4 I must be 75% happy. Presumably if I have none of those things, the authors would categorize me as miserable. This is the logic that allows Anke Plagnol one of the study authors to conclude: "Aspirations of men and women are similar later in life, but women attain less."

I can certainly see how the study results are interesting, but is that really the way to measure happiness? It sounds a lot like a materialist trap that says I will be happy if only I have more stuff. Unfortunately, that's just not true! More stuff doesn't make you more happy even if you think that it will.

I recommend all happiness experts go out and buy a copy of the Veggie Tales classic Madame Blueberry. They'll learn that "being greedy makes you grumpy -- but a thankful heart is a happy heart!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Songs that say, Don't cheat, Don't Leave

I've got two country stations on my radio presets. I knew this song was big when I heard it twice in 5 minutes while scanning the channels. Taylor Swift's, "Should've Said No" is a grand kiss off to her cheating boyfriend. It's totally simplistic, no torn emotions just plain punchy. Simple message to men, be faithful or you're toast. Give it a listen:

It kind of reminds me about the song Cheaper to Keep Her by Aaron Lines that made the circuit a few months ago. Similar message to men, DON'T Leave because you’ll just screw up your life! I enjoy both these songs because they’re just so refreshingly direct. I think they’re just plain fun, as long as you’re not in the situation. If you are, they’e gotta sting and you have my sympathy. But I think these two songs are popular because they contain warnings that deep down we men know we need to hear. (I think they’re popular with women because they can laugh at men.)

Stay Strong by the Newsboys is different. First, it’s not country, I’ve heard it a few times on my drive home on the local Christian music station. More important it’s hopeful it’s talking to us BEFORE we make a bad decision. It’s definitely my favourite of these three songs:

I like all three of these songs especially the last one. They may be direct, maybe even preachy, but they're definitely catchy. It’s refreshing to have some explicitly encouraging music especially when popular culture seems to diminish committed relationships.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Let the Americans Keep Him

Omar Khadr is from the family of Osama bin Laden's biggest Canadian sympathisers. He travelled to Afghanistan to support their cause, and the Americans believe he killed one of their soldiers, Christopher Speer. Now that a video of his interrogation has been released, his lawyers want Canadians to pressure our government to bring him back to Canada and rescue him from the consequences of his actions.

I vote no. Much has been made of clips where Khadr breaksdown and crys for his mom, but more should be made of his many admissions. Such as this exchange reported by the Globe and Mail,

"How did that American end up getting so dead then? … You were there. You participated in this action," a Canadian interrogator said.

"What could I do?" Mr. Khadr replied. "What other choice did I have?"

CSIS agents believe he delivered well rehearsed testimony. Khadr's lawyers have been trying to manipulate the Canadian government ever since his arrest, when the interrogation started he said to the Canadians, "Finally, I've been requesting the Canadian government for a long time."

I don't blame Khadr for breaking down in tears when he realized that the Canadians were trying to find out the truth rather than bring him a get out of jail free card. But those tears do not make him innocent, if he killed an American service man and trained with terrorists he should face the consequences.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Shameful Decision, An Excellent Response

When I first heard that Henry Morgentaler would be awarded the Order of Canada, I was disgusted. I also didn't much care. It was just another slight against pro-lifers and another undeserved award for a wiked man. I spent a lot of energy huffing and puffing when he was awarded an honourary degree from the University of Western Ontario, and I stopped supporting the school because of it. I was so tired of hearing about him I just rolled my eyes, and thought here we go again.

But, the response has encouraged me. I was particularly encouraged by Acrh Bishop Thomas Collins' statement. Before describing the many services the Church offers to women who have had an abortion and those who may be considering an abortion, he said:

Canada's highest honour has been debased. HenryMorgentaler has been awarded the Order of Canada. We are all diminished.

A community's worth is measured by the way it treats the most vulnerable,and no one is more vulnerable than in the first nine months of life's journey. No person may presume to judge the soul of Henry Morgentaler, but it cannot bedenied that the effect of his life's work has been a deadly assault upon the most helpless amongst us.

Canada glories in the names of Banting and Best, and the other medical heroes who selflessly brought healing where there was disease and suffering. Now it honours with the Order of Canada a medical man who has brought not healing, but the destruction of the defenseless and immeasurable grief.

This award must not stand.

Quite frankly this is much more eloquent than I could be. Clear and bold, yet gentle, responses from the Church have informed a debate that has engaged the country. I am very proud of the leadership that the church has shown.

I was also pleased with Stephen Harper's comments:
"My preference, to be frank, would be to see the Order of Canada be something that really unifies, that brings Canadians together. I have to say this clearly: This is not a decision of the government of Canada. The Order of Canada, these decisions, are made independently of the government."

Stephen Harper couldn't be more right. Honours such as this should be reserved for people that have made a truly positive contribuition to our society. Small wonder at least 3 awards have been returned by individuals who think the honour has become worthless. (Awards presented to Catherine de Hueck Doherty, E.M. Culliton, and Father Lucien Larre have all been returned.) What a shame that true servants of Canada have seen their honour diminished in this way.

Thousands of Canadians have also signed an online petition or joined Facebook groups opposing the nomination. Please do the same, for the sake of our country this award must not stand.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

FACT: Church Going Men Have Happier Marriages

A new research brief from the Centre for Marriage and Families finds that church going men have happier marriages than other men:
For men, 70 percent of husbands who attend church regularly report they are “very happy” in their marriages, compared to 59 percent of husbands who rarely or never attend church. . . In addition, a study of urban relationships found that men’s religious attendance was a better predictor of women’s relationship satisfaction than women’s own religious attendance.

That's huge! In other words 18% (70/59) more church going men (in America) have very happy marriages than men who stay home. Naturally these men had marriages that were more likely to last:
Specifically, data from the NSFH indicate that men and women who attended religious services regularly (several times a month or more) were approximately 35 percent less likely to divorce between 1988 and 1993, compared to their married peers who rarely or never attended religious services. Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and Jews who attended services regularly were especially likely to avoid divorce, compared to churchgoing evangelical Protestants and black Protestants. In all probability, low Catholic divorce rates are linked to Catholic teaching about the importance of marital permanence.
Yay Catholics!

Finally, the research shows that church going men spend more time with their children including helping with group activities:
Compared to dads who say they have no religious affiliation, fathers who attend
church regularly (several times a month or more) devote at least two hours a
week more in youth-related activities, such as helping in Boy Scouts, coaching
soccer, and leading a church youth group.
So men, want a happier marriage? Get to church! Women and mothers want a happier marriage, get your husband to church. The data show he'll thank you for it.

H/T Lifesite News

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Record High Abortions in Britain.

According to Lifesite news, a record number of English unborn children were aborted in 2007. Lifesite reports:

Abortions are at record numbers again in Britain, with a 4 percent rise and ever younger girls having "terminations" instead of giving birth. Statistics released today show that 205,598 British children were killed before birth in 2007, up from 201,173 in England and Wales during 2006.

The number of abortions among young girls also jumped significantly, with 13-to-15 year olds aborting at 4.4 per thousand, and under-18s aborting at a rate of 19.8 per thousand.

These statistics mean that nearly one-quarter of pregnancies in England and Wales end in abortion.

This is bad news for Britain and quite honestly I was shocked, especially when the most recent Canadian numbers showed a much more enouraging trend. England has just over 60 million people, less than twice Canada's population of 33 million, but the total number of abortions in England was more than 2.1 times the 96,815 unborn children that were killed in Canada.

Perhaps young women in Britain should look to Canadians as an example. Only 13.8 per thousand Canadian young women under the age of 20 had an abortion in 2005.

I Weep for Africa

In a sad and frustrating statement on Africa, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's main oppositon party decided not to contest a run off election after president Mugabe's thugs continued months of violence and blocked a major rally. Tsvangirai summed up his reasons succinctly saying, "We in the MDC* cannot ask [people] to cast their vote on the 27th when that vote would cost them their lives."

Here in North America, we take our democracy for granted. In many African countries it is extremely fragile. Zimbabwe is a country with incredible potential, and yet at least 70 opposition supporters have been killed over the past several weeks by agents of Zimbabwe's government. Although the blame clearly rests with Mugabe himself and those around him that have enriched themselves while ruining the country, it's all the more maddening because it could have been prevented if the international community, particularly South Africa had pressured Mugabe out when he lost the last election in March.

For all the talk about sending help to Africa this is a moment when something can be done. South Africa should close the border to all trade with Zimbabwe until Mugabe steps down. Western governments should take every means possible to isolate Mugabe, fortify the opposition, and support Zimbabwe's other neighbouring countries such as Zambia that have already been working to end this crisis.

*Movement for Democratic Change

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dion's Tax on Everything

I wonder how much the Conservatives are paying Stephane Dion. This Carbon Tax idea must be one of the biggest strategic blunders the Liberals have made with Dion as leader, and that is saying something.

First off, Dion is going to lose more of whatever miniscule amount of credibility he has left. He earlier promised not to introduce a carbon tax, so the conservatives have easily charged that he broke his word.

Second he has left himself wide open to the claim that he's trying to raise taxes. The conservatives have rightly labeled the idea as a permanent new tax, and I don't think anyone will believe that this plan won't increase taxes overall despite Liberal claims of offsetting tax cuts.

Third, it's not a very good idea. The tax will increase the cost of everything from heating and cooling to manufacturing and transportation of everything that we buy. That's why it's been called a tax on everything. Of course, the hardest hit businesses will be Canadian manufacturers that will have to pay a tax that none of their competitors have to pay. This comes at a time when the high Canadian dollar is already decimating the industry.

Finally, there couldn't be worse timing. A carbon tax might not always be a terrible idea, if oil drops to $20 a barrel and governments want to protect the environment by ensuring we don't needlessly pollute, go ahead introduce a carbon tax. Today the market is doing a fine job of encouraging energy efficiency and there's no need for a new tax to help. In fact a new tax now will just destroy the economy and cause untold hardship, everyone is reeling from the high cost of energy, we cannot afford to pay more.

I Have a Little Crush . . .

. . . On Jessica Simpson.
OK. Maybe not, truth is I don't even know why she's famous actress? Singer? it doesn't really matter to me. BUT the T-shirt looks good on her. Hopefully she starts a trend.
BTW, look at those incisors, proof positive we were made to enjoy a thick, tender pork chop every now and again.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Truth? and Reconciliation?

Canada has launched a so called 'truth and reconciliation' committee into Canada's residential schools. I'm a little apprehensive. The last time I heard about the issue several years ago, Canadian government lawyers had agreed to pay natives compensation for 'cultural genocide' and stuck churches with half the bill. Many Anglican, United, and Catholic churches were closed outright to pay for the bill. Now that the settlements are being paid out, alcohol and drug abuse has spiked again on reservations.

Don't get me wrong, there were documented cases of abuse, and those people should be pitied, apologized to and compensated. But, let's set the record straight, the teachers and religious that relocated to the remote reservations left everything out of an act of love and service to the native people. They sacrificed themselves to give the natives a better life. The only reason churches were likely involved is that nobody else would go and make that sacrifice.

Lorne Gunter, says give the commission a chance, I guess we don't have a choice. But I sincerely hope that five years from now we will see a balanced report that recognizes the selfless acts of service and doesn't simply create another opportunity to reinforce the native sense of victimhood.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Job Well Done, Hillary

The math doesn't look good for Hillary Clinton now that Barack Obama has enough delegates to secure the nomination. Hillary won another big race on the weekend, but it came just a little late, winning the Democratic Puerto Rico Primary with a 2 -1 margin, after similar victories in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Normally, I wouldn't care. First, I'm Conservative. Second, I'm Canadian. But I do care who wins the nomination for two reasons. I believe Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for President. Second, the President is still the leader of the free world, so every body cares.

Between Obama, Hillary, and McCain, I wanted Hillary to be the next President of the United States. My logic is simple Barrack Obama is an extreme left wing leader prone to making big mistakes; if Barrack Obama became President it will be dangerous for the whole world. John McCain would be a better President than Obama, and he has articulated some conservative positions such as appointing constitutionalist judges. However, with a democratic controlled he will almost certainly fall in line with the Democrats on every issue that matters.

Hillary, on the other hand, is pragmatic and adaptable enough to know where the American people stand, and I believe she would have used the office of President to more effectively control a democratic congress than John McCain could.

Hillary ran a decent campaign, especially in the last few months. I wish the results had been different.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

3,224 Fewer Tragedies

3,224 fewer children had their lives prematurely snuffed out at Canadian hospitals and abortion clinics in 2005 according to Statistics Canada. With a total of 96,815 abortions in 2005, the annual rate has dropped below the 100,000 threshold. Perhaps the most encouraging news comes from the age breakdown:
Teenage women, under the age of 20, experienced the largest decline in rates, from 13.8 for every 1,000 women in 2004, to 13.0 in 2005. The induced abortion rate for these women has declined gradually since 1996 when it peaked at 18.9.
Clearly there's a shift happening in the attitudes of young women, who seem significantly more responsible than a decade ago despite continuous pressure from society to sacrifice their morals.

There's a lot of work to be done, but anyone who cares about the unborn in Canada should pause and give thanks for this good news.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hamilton Diocese Ordinations

Hamilton Diocese ordained 3 new men into the priesthood on Saturday! It's an answer to prayer, and a hopeful sign for the diocese that these young men have committed their lives to the service of Christ and His church. One of the young men Fr. Jason Kuntz, went to high school with my wife, another spoke recently at our church about his calling and his journey through the seminary. I wanted to attend, but in a typical Patrick move, I went to Church of Our Lady in Guelph, when the ordinations were at the Cathedral in Hamilton. :(

"No problem," said I (to quote myself). I would simply go inside and pray for the new priests briefly in the church. However, my plan was foiled, as I tried each door only to find that it was locked up tight with two other people trying various doors.

Now, Church of Our Lady is something of a landmark in Guelph a large stone church towering over the downtown. Like many grand historical structures, it takes money to maintain, and the Parish has often looked to the general public for support. There's nothing wrong with that, Guelph is a more beautiful city because of the church, but if the public is helping to support the church, it should be open to the public sometime outside of regular mass times.

I understand that vandalism is a problem, but a group of committed volunteers or a private security company could easily address this issue and make this beautiful house of worship more accessible.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

To Quote Myself

Trade news bulletins are understandably poorly written, but Patrick O'Neil wonders if this isn't a little excessive:

Commentary by Victor Aideyan, Risk Management

While inputs will remain high, livestock prices should also be favorable in 2009. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a gauge of livestock and crop intentions through its quarterly reports. Sometime those reports create angst and uncertainty among producers, as was the case with the March Hogs and Pigs report as well as the March planting intentions report. From a swine perspective, the biggest surprise was the prediction of larger than expected hog supplies through September 2008. “The initial reaction on the production side can only be described as shock and despair,” says Senior Risk Management Consultant Victor Aideyan. “The Hogs and Pigs report was a negative surprise, to say the least.”

While the market reacted with lower prices for the first few trading days following the report, they have since rebounded, says Aideyan. “ Risk Management believes that tightening hog supplies in the 2nd quarter compared to the last quarter will support hog prices between April and early June,” he adds. For pork producers, it will continue to be important to manage input costs, including corn, meal, and any protein sources. “The price risk management work you do during this period will determine your level of profitability, if any, during 2009,” points out Aideyan. “Barring any exceptional events, we expect the meat complex (hogs and cattle) to hit all time highs in 2009.”
. . .
“The implication for corn is that it seems destined for higher prices going into this summer, at least,” predicts Aideyan. “This is good news for cash crop producers as corn and soybeans will go higher, but bad news for livestock producers.”

“Given tight reserves, Risk Management believes that in the spring of 2009 the competition for acres between soybeans and corn will be even more pronounced than this year,” Aideyan notes. He adds cautiously, “But don’t forget, the crops are not planted yet, and things could easily change.”

I count 9 third party references to himself or his organization. That's gotta be nearly as bad as naming your blog after yourself.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Goes Up . . .

Monthly Corn Futures

Grain prices are at or near record levels, ethanol production has sky rocketed, and riots are happening around the world as food prices increase. Have you heard this story yet? It's been hard to miss as story after story covers the 'Food vs. Fuel' debate or the 'Food Crisis.'

Conventional wisdom in the mainstream media is that grain prices will stay high forever, and food prices will continue to increase. History suggests otherwise, as the chart above shows, big spikes in grain prices are not uncommon; they are usually followed by a sharp, unexpected drop. Most agricultural commodities follow a cyclical or Boom-Bust pattern. Although government support for ethanol and bio diesel certainly, helped the economics of over supply and low prices are the biggest drivers behind the higher levels of demand.

Clearly, growing grain will be very profitable this fall, especially for farmers that forward sell some of their production at these high levels. These profits will generate a supply response. Farmers around the world will grow more food, and my expectation is the response will be much quicker than many analysts predict.

North American crop yields top the world largely because of technology, but there's excellent ground around the planet. I fully expect that the production will jump by leaps and bounds, possibly this year as Western management style pushes into places like Eastern Europe. Case and point is a large Canadian livestock producer I know who is leaving the business to manage a 7,000 acre grain farm in the Ukraine. Have no fear, farmers will continue to feed the world.

All this said, the 'crisis' has brought a number of good ideas to the forefront. Governments in North America should be clear that they will not offer subsidies to new ethanol plants, governments should continue to open their borders, and in the short term food aid should be increased, as Canada has already done.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elections Canada's Bold Move

It looks to me like Elections Canada is skating on thin ice. The Globe and Mail reported:

RCMP officers raided Conservative Party headquarters in downtown Ottawa yesterday to execute a search warrant requested by Election Commissioner William Corbett.

The police worked behind closed doors of the 12th-floor suite and at a mailroom on another floor. They were searching for information related to Mr. Corbett's investigation into whether dozens of Tory candidates improperly claimed advertising expenses that should have been declared by the national party.

It's obviously a complicated issue. Elections Canada is with holding campaign reimbursement funds from the Conservative Party and investigating whether the party declared expenses properly. The Conservative Party is suing Elections Canada for the funds that are being held.

There is often a blurring of lines between candidate's campaign budgets and the National Campaign. For instance, on an earlier campaign I was involved in the National Party's call centre did local polling to aid the candidate in a key riding. On a separate campaign for the Canadian Alliance, the local campaign was given the opportunity to pay for generic National Party advertisements on local radio and TV stations.

I don't know the particulars of the latest issue, the Conservatives obviously believe they are within the rules, but both arguments clearly rest on technicalities. The scandal today is that Elections Canada, a neutral agency, has made a media splash by engaging the RCMP and leaking the story to the media. Predictably, the news headlines on the radio during my drive home yesterday and into work this morning simply reported that the RCMP was raiding Conservative Party headquarters, suggesting that something criminal had happened. Clearly this is not accurate, the news will pass because there's no real story, but the damage has done and the Conservative Party is going to look a little more murky to the general public.

William Corbett will do well to remember that his position rests on being neutral and foregoing politically motivated attacks. He should apologize immediately.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I Don't Really Care

The NHL Playoffs begin today. Once again the Toronto Maple Leafs have long been eliminated from the playoffs. It's sad to say, but I don't really care. Now that it's been over 40 years since Toronto won a Stanley Cup, 3 consecutive years when they did not make the playoffs, and 4 years since the season was cancelled because of the player's strike. It's safe to say that I am firmly off the bandwagon.
I'm not planning on following the playoffs very closely this year, and I may not follow the season next year, until Toronto starts to win. It's a sad reality, but most Toronto Fans should know that there's no incentive for the team to do better unless folks start tuning out. The team can make incredible profits because we keep on watching, and buying tickets regardless of the effort they put forward. If they notice their revenues drop, maybe they'll show up to play next season.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Choice

I've got about an hour before I should go to bed. I could start on my income tax, or I could start reading the books I borrowed from my brother in law, Dante's Divine Comedy. Book 1 in the trilogy is all about Hell. So I've got a choice:

Hell or Income Tax. . .

Right now I'm undecided.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Watch What you Eat

It happens to me every Easter season, I bite into something that looks a lot like chocolate and I need to spit it out immediately. I've learned the lesson again this year:

'Chocolate' or 'Chocolaty' Confection is not Chocolate!

I don't know what the difference is. My suspicion is that Chocolate is made by companies like Hershey, Neilson, and Cadbury, while chocolate confection is made by companies like Lux, and Palmolive.

From what I understand the key ingredient is cocoa butter rather than cheap vegetable oil. Look for it. If you're going to eat something that's not that good for you, it should at least taste good.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Canadian Diplomacy Pays Off

Back in January I wrote about John Manley's report on Afghanistan. It was brilliant in that it outlined why the mission is important, and why Canada should continue to fight the mission. One of my friends in the Military said the report should be required reading for every Canadian.

A key recommendation in the report was that Canada should give other NATO countries an ultimatum that Canada would withdrawal our troops unless an additional 1,000 fighting soldiers were committed to the Kandahar region. Looks like it's working. France is likely to commit 1,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan next month. The Times article states:

The Ministry of Defence has made a working assumption that President Sarkozy will announce a deployment of “slightly more than 1,000 troops to the eastern region”, one said.

The deployment would deliver a significant fillip to the military operation in Afghanistan, ensuring that other countries such as Canada remain engaged. It would also provide concrete evidence that France was keen to forge a new relationship with NATO. . .

President Sarkozy is said to be still deciding whether the extra troops should be sent to the south to fight alongside the Canadians or east to the border with Pakistan. In the latter scenario, the presence of French troops would allow the US troops currently policing the border to be sent south.

This is how diplomacy works. Canada has been pulling more than its weight in Afghanistan, and it has re-earned credibility on the international stage. As a result, Canada has made a very reasonable demand of it's allies and they are responding. Now more than ever we should support the mission and help Afghanistan recover from the years of Taliban rule that have ravaged the country.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rick Mercer Skewers Human Rights Commissions

Rick Mercer has some fun blasting Ezra Levant while standing up for our right to free speech. It's 2 minutes and 19 seconds well spent. Go to the Mercer Report Website, select Season 5, Episode 18, and hit Rick's Rant. (Be warned there's a lot of good material on the site, so you'll want to come back later for more. I honestly just discovered the website, I'll likely check it out every week!)

In his Rant, Mercer explains how the publisher of the Western Standard has spent 2 years and $100,000 defending himself from a complaint brought against him for republishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammad. He called the Western Standard a 'nutty magazine,' but he drove to the heart of the matter saying: "Hey, it's a free country, or it used to be. Since then he's spent over a $100,000 defending his right to republish the cartoons. . . . If we're not careful, if we force the Ezra's of the world to shut up, our freedom of speech could be next."

Rick Mercer gets it. The Human Rights Commissions in Canada are the greatest threat to Human Rights in Canada. ~ More on this later.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stations of the Cross

Don't miss what could be your last chance this Lent to take in the Stations of the Cross at your local Catholic Church. Many parishes hold the Stations on Fridays in Lent, but you'll want to check your nearby parishes to confirm the details.

I'll confess, before I was Catholic, I had only heard of the Stations of the cross once. It was at a university christian club meeting when an evangelical friend of mine said she was going to stations of the with one of her Catholic friends. She had a relatively positive impression of them, and we left it at that.

The next time I encountered the stations I was well on the way to becoming Catholic. I went with my future in-laws to the Martyrs' Shrine in Midland, Ontario. We walked by 14 large (almost life size) statues of Jesus in many of the events of his suffering and death on the cross. We said a short prayer at each station as we reflected on each part of His passion.

Since then it has become one of my favourite Catholic devotions. It's a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge your sins before Christ, and to get a real sense of just what Jesus went through to grant us forgiveness. When we last went to the Stations at our Parish, a sweet lady came up to us and told us how she gets chills every time she comes to stations. I know what she means, many of the reflections are so descriptive, you can almost feel the cross pushing down on your shoulder.

I found out recently, that Christians have been praying these prayers and reflections since the 12th century. Maybe this Lent is a time to find out what you've been missing . . . If you don't have time to get to a church, you can always pray the prayers on your own. You can find a version attributed to St. Francis of Assisi here.