Thursday, April 30, 2009

Frank Klees Gets My Vote

I decided last night at the leadership debate in Fergus that Frank Klees gets my vote for leader of the Ontario PC party. I also renewed my membership, so he can count on at least 1 vote.

The way I look at it, the next leader has to rebuild the party first, then convince the voters the party deserves their support, finally they will need to govern.

During the debate yesterday it was very clear to me that Frank was the most committed to resurrecting the democratic process that created the Common Sense Revolution. I remember participating in that process, by the time the policies were developed I felt a sense of ownership in a platform that I was passionate about supporting. The policies in that platform were strong because they were tested and vetted through the membership. We can't simply take a 15 year old policy document and try to use it again, but we can use the same process and create something new, relevant, and principled. Frank's commitment to the process convinces me he's the right man to rebuild the party.

The other candidates seemed focused on fighting the next campaign. If campaigning was the only skill that mattered, Tim Hudak, could have the advantage but if there's no substance to sell, his energy alone won't be enough.

Finally there's governing. Frank was the most statesmanlike leader by far, his experience demonstrates that he can govern. While the other candidates wanted to fight the move to change the Provincial Sales Tax to a Harmonized Sales Tax, dramatically increasing the number of services that are taxable, Frank said bluntly that by the time the Conservatives form government the tax will be a reality and the best thing they could do is decrease the rate. That's rational and pragmatic but still true to Conservative principles.

Finally the bonus is Frank's old enough that if he does win the leadership, but loses the election I doubt he'd try to hang on for another round like John Tory did.

The next provincial election is only 2 years away. That time will go fast but with Frank at the helm, I'm sure the party will be ready.

Debate in Fergus

Last night I was at the Fergus Legion to hear the Ontario PC Leadership candidates here's what they had to say in order of table position:

Randy Hillier - Wasn't able to make it. That's a shame, I've never seen him speak I was looking forward to finding out what makes the rebel tick. Fortunately the event host, Ted Arnott, read a statement from Randy. It was short but bold. He called the McGuinty plan to replace the Provincial Sales Tax with a Harmonized Sales Tax while not decreasing the overall rate a 'colossally stupid' idea.

The cornerstone of his message was conscience legislation that would allow professionals to refrain from actions they don't believe in. For example it would guarantee that a doctor, nurse or pharmacist would not be forced to participate in a chemical, or surgical abortion. It would guarantee a priest, minister, or justice of the peace would not be forced to marry a same sex couple. I wanted to ask the other candidates what they thought of this position, but I was too shy. Regardless of the outcome of the leadership race, I think this is a winning issue, it's a matter of fairness and fundamental freedoms and it should be a core part of any policy platform.

Likewise, Randy's comments on Human Rights Commissions were bang on. It's time to dismantle them because their rulings consistently plow over fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech and religion.

Christine Elliot - Was very well spoken and professional. I could see myself sitting across from her at a meeting table and accomplishing a lot. She was the candidate I knew the least about going into the meeting and I was very impressed. I actually started the applause during her opening statement when she endorsed increasing the provincial income tax deduction for charitable donations. I think it's an excellent idea charities can be far more nimble and do far more good than a government program.

Tim Hudak - Looked and acted like the leader. His opening speech was packed with energy and policy statements. He aggressively went after Premier McGuinty and for a moment it felt like I was at a campaign rally with a week before the election. During the question and answer session he answered a question about being a leader with a heart by giving the example of a 5 year old who had a condition that required expensive prescription drugs in order to walk and he delivered the story very well. Frank Klees had answered the same question in a similar way, but Tim was definitely more engaging on that point. The other thing was Tim seemed most informed about Agriculture, Christine Elliot was out of her depth on that one.

Frank Klees - Is a statesman. He's the real deal and he leveraged his experience with the party and building a business to send a very strong message that he could be the leader and he could be premier. He started out by describing his guiding principles of individual responsibility and social responsibility, and that was well done. He also described his involvement with the party and the policy development process that brought about the Common Sense Revolution. He told us how he will reinvigorate the process so that the policies the party brings forward in the next election will be tested and relevant. He's absolutely right. Detailed policy pronouncements right at the beginning of the campaign cannot possibly be tested.

When a question came up about funding faith based schools, the controversial issue that is credited with losing the last election, Frank answered it best. He said that if the policy had gone through the proper development process it either would have died, or it would have been developed tested and understood by all the party members. Either way the last election would have turned out differently.

I have decided who I'm supporting, but I've gotta get to work. I'll let you know who I'm voting for tonight.

UPDATE: I had called Christine Brenda. I'm not sure where that came from. Thanks to the commenters for calling me on it. The text is now correct.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Decision Day

The Ontario PC leadership candidates are descending on Fergus tonight for some question and answers at 8:00 at the Fergus Legion. Tonight I'll decide who I'm supporting and how hard I'll work to help them. I'm 90% of the way there and about a week late in deciding, but since these guys are coming so close to Guelph, I'm out of excuses.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We're All Going to Die!!!

I don't have a lot of time, I have to go hide under a rock because of the latest crisis that will certainly kill us all. The swine flu coverage is comical with pictures of people walking around with surgical masks everywhere. My personal favourite is the couple kissing with their masks on. I suppose it's not just the media's fault, when the US administration declared a public health emergency, and the President says "it's not a cause for alarm."

I'm reminded of my first day of media training starting a new job almost 10 years ago. The instructor said when you say, "don't panic" the message received is "PANIC!!!" Anyway if this isn't overblown, I don't know what is. First off there are only 40 reported cases of the disease and nobody has died in the US or Canada. Second, it's the flu let's put things in perspective for a second:

"In the U.S., you want to focus on the fact that no one has had serious illness from this," said Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning infectious-disease expert with the Council on Foreign Relations.

In all known American cases thus far, "They got well, just as would be the case with the common garden-variety flu," said Garrett.

Thank you Laurie. I should also mention that you don't catch swine flu from eating pork. The US Centre for Disease Control states:

Q Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?

A There is no evidence to show that swine influenza can be transmitted through food. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills bacteria and viruses.

So it looks like we'll survive another day. I think this might become a regular theme. I've created a new category, 'hype.' Something tells me there won't be any shortage of material.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lost without LOST

I haven't written about any movies in a while, and there's a good reason, for about a month I haven't watched anything except the first 2 seasons of LOST. The show is something else, 1 big story that's being told over 6 seasons. The story focuses on a group of survivors from a plane crash in the South Pacific. Most episodes give you the chance to focus in on one character and see how their earlier experiences shape their reactions to the challenges on the island and their interactions with the other characters. My favourite character is a recovering drug addict, but everyone has a secret from the full time con man to the trigger happy cop. It's amazing how sympathetic the characters are - or maybe I just have too many friends in politics.

I found out about it the way I hear about most shows. For the last several years I've heard people in the office talking about in the lunchroom and on breaks. People talk about a lot of shows, and I just don't have much time for TV, so I've had to be content to sit out of those conversations. But there been something the intensity of the conversations and how long everyone has kept talking about it, that made be curious. When I heard one friend mention it to a colleague at lunch and I saw the guy's face light up and say, "That's my favourite show!" I decided it was time to give it a try.

I borrowed the first season from my cousin and it was engaging from the start. I told a friend about it and she smiled, clapped her hands and said, "I'm so happy for you!" I thought "Thanks, but it's just a TV show." Later that week I told another friend and got the same reaction minus the clapping. When our dinner guests a couple weeks later had the same reaction - clapping included - I knew we were getting into some quality entertainment.

I can't wait to catch up with the live series so I can trade stories with the other LOST fans and try to guess what will happen next. On the other hand, I'm scared of what will happen when the series winds up, I might be lost without LOST.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Yesterday I was disappointed when I heard the news that the government passed a law making it illegal to talk on a traditional cell phone while driving in Ontario. By the fall it will be punishable by a punitive $500 fine.

Today I was shocked to hear that the bill passed unanimously:
The Legislature unanimously passed the government's law against "distracted driving" yesterday but it will take several months before associated regulations are drawn up and a public education campaign launched, said Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.
Based on a lot of the comments I've read on a few news stories, there's a lot of support for the new law, so I guess I'd best stop complaining and just get ready. Still with the Conservative leadership race in full swing, I was kind of hoping that one of the candidates would take a stand against the latest incursion of government into our lives.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

South Africa Votes

The BBC is reporting massive line ups for South Africa's election today. South Africa is a well established democracy and a beacon of light in a continent full of messed up countries. I hope this election goes well, and I hope the opposition parties do well. There's been a lot of concern about the likely winner Jacob Zuma:

In a polling station queue, leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance party, Helen Zille, told the BBC that South Africans needed to "stop Zuma to save the constitution".

"He's a one-man constitution-wrecking machine and what he says and what he does are two different things," she said.

The alliance has repeatedly suggested that if the ANC retains its two-thirds majority, it might change the constitution to protect Mr Zuma from prosecution - claims he has denied.

Sounds like the stakes are high enough that it's worth lining up to vote.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why Vote for a Leader

I just wanted to thank True Blue and Brett for their thoughtful comments in my post, 'Who is the Red Tory?' They both raise some interesting ideas that are worth repeating. True Blue said:
"Considering the party elite has rushed through the election date, I think it would be a good idea for the candidates to give us their platforms right away so that we can make an informed vote. Christine Elliott just released her platform and it was a giant ball of fluff! No substance, just words. We need to know what we are voting for!"
Brett responded:
I'm a fan of clear, conservative policies as well, but I'm also big on Party members having a say. Its interesting that you talk about the CSR. While Mike certainly brought his own strong ideas on where to take the province, it had a lot of input from the Party membership - after he was elected leader. I respect Hillier's willingness to outline his policy ideas (I also agree with some of them), but it doesn't seem he's learned from John Tory. Tory's commitment to two good policies - religious school funding and rescinding the health tax - during the leadership tied his hands when crafting the platform down the road.

On this point, I think I agree more with Brett than with True Blue. A detailed policy platform is really not appropriate during the leadership race. Guiding principles are. This leader could be at the helm of the party for 10 years or more, long after the specific policies outlined during this campaign are decided or no longer relevant. I do want to know what the leader is made of and what philosophy he/she will use to guide their decision making process. A brief policy statement would certainly be helpful. If someone is all fluffy and mushy middle now, I know I don't want them leading the party.

Later in the discussion True Blue said:

If we have no idea what the leader of the PCPO plans for the future how can we vote for them? Whether it is an election campaign, or a leadership campaign, we need to know what the candidate stands for. I personally do not wish to put all the people who were behind John Tory back in power. They were/are not conservative.

And Brett responded in part:

As to Tory advisers, I don't think any one camp can claim a monopoly on being a home to them. Even still, if a Leader has conservative principles to begin with, I'm less worried about who's advising whom.

This time I'm definitely with True Blue. I've found both personally and at work that the secret to success is to surround yourself with good people. I think it's even more true in politics. I don't know who John Tory's key advisers were, to be honest I just didn't care. However, if they have all lined up behind one candidate, that would definitely make me nervous about supporting them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Canada Drives Free Trade Agenda at Summit of the Americas

Investors' Business Daily reports that Canada is taking the lead role in promoting free trade at the summit of the Americas:

Canada, by contrast, is taking the lead. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his top priority at the Summit is to champion free trade, in line with the will of the region's real democracies.

"Our focus for the Summit of the Americas will be about free trade and avoiding other countries moving back to protectionist measures," Harper's spokesman said. "Canada's position is that we must not allow the impact of the (financial) crisis to reverse our hard-fought progress towards freer trade and investment."

Stephen Harper's words will mean something because they are consistent with his government's actions. They also matter because they are right - now is not the time for protectionist measures. But note the word contrast in that first sentence. The article contrasts Canada's leadership with a distinct lack of leadership coming from President Obama:

"Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors," he said. "We have been too easily distracted by other priorities and failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress through the Americas."

Having never set foot south of our border nor paid much attention to the region until this week, he should speak for himself. . .

Today, Obama is paying only lip service to that trade goal while two finished free-trade treaties with friendly American allies Panama and Colombia sit in his desk drawer, unvoted-on in Congress. . .

and [he] won't think of ending the senseless tariffs on Brazil's ethanol — another
major free-trade, and energy policy, issue.

Obama's ineffectiveness and insincerity at this summit are not surprising. This is the same president who came to Canada and said proudly "I love Canada!" Then he went home and worsened the trade relationship immediately by making Country of Origin Labelling requirements less clear and sticking new punitive duties on Canadian softwood lumber. Way to show us your love Mr. President.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Time to Save Money and Eat Meat

Meat looks like a relative bargain compared to fruit, vegetables and potatoes according to Statistics Canada. CTV reports:
Statistics Canada says food prices rose 7.9 per cent over the 12-month period to March -- the largest increase since November 1986. Prices for fresh vegetables shot up 26.5 per cent and fresh fruit cost 19.3 per cent more than last year. Potatoes were particularly more expensive. They were up a whopping 54.9 per cent over the year, largely as a result of poor harvests that reduced supply.
If that means fries and chips are going to be more expensive, this is really bad news. It sounds like there were smaller increases in meat prices (something had to pull down the average) so it's time to eat up - it's only a matter of time until they move higher too.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is Capitalism Catholic?

That's the question Richard Bastien poses in this thoughtful essay on the topic. In it he argues that many of the economic theories posited by John Locke, Adam Smith et al and those generally associated with the so called protestant work ethic can be traced back to medieval theologians and city states from as far back as the 12th century where . . .
capitalism existed in Italian city-states during the late Middle Ages, a period not of obscurantism and darkness but of progress and intellectual vibrancy that established the foundations of what eventually became modernity. Shortly after the publication of Weber's theory, economic historian Henri Pirenne produced a vast documentation showing that "all of the essential features of capitalism -- individual enterprise, advances in credit, commercial profits, speculation, etc. -- are to be found from the twelfth century on, in the city republics of Italy -- Venice, Genoa, or Florence"

The essay also suggests that Catholic theologians and academics outlined and supported the early capitalist systems:
nearly all the ingredients of modern value and price theory can be found in the writings of medieval thinkers. They developed price and value theories remarkably similar to neoclassical models and rejected the labor theory of value on which Marxist and socialist theories are based. Moreover, they acknowledged the legitimacy of profits and interest charges as early as the 13th century. . .

The best illustration of this is St. Bernardino of Siena, a Franciscan missionary and reformer active in the first half of the 15th century who systematized scholastic economics and was one of the first theologians to write an entire work dealing solely with economics.

Titled 'On Contracts and Usury', it provides a justification of private property, the ethics of trade, the determination of value and price, and the usury question. Bernardino described the entrepreneur as being endowed by God with a special combination of four entrepreneurial gifts -- efficiency, responsibility, hard work, and
risk-taking -- and argued that the latter two legitimized the notion of profit. In short, profit was understood as the valid remuneration of the entrepreneur.

It's a convincing case that capitalism had a well established roots before protestant and secular intellectuals began taking the lead in capitalist economic theory. Today the Church continues to endorse the kind of regulated capitalism that is present in North America. Bastien supports this assertion by referencing John Paul the Great's encyclical, Centesimus Annus. The encyclical answers the question of whether capitalism is the model that countries seeking true economic and civil progress should follow, like this:
If by capitalism is meant the positive role of business, the market, private property and responsibility for the means of production as well as free creativity in the economic sector, the answer is in the affirmative . . . . But if by capitalism is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom nor is seen as a particular aspect of freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.
Fascinating stuff.

Consequences for Crazy Spending

“We will have to raise taxes,” Michael Ignatieff said yesterday. So the aggressive stimulus package that the threatened liberal led coalition was pushing for is going to come with costs. Glad we're finally admitting that now. It was the Liberals and NDP that were selling panic and holding the government hostage for an expensive stimulus package, it's only a few months later and now they're talking about how to pay for it. Better late then never I suppose.

Still, I take it as another good sign for the economy that political discourse in this country is changing from the impact of total economic collapse to what to do when the economy recovers. It's true that the deficit can only be eliminated by economic growth, lower spending, or higher taxes. I think that's the best order, apparently Mr. Ignatieff disagrees.

If our economy is to have a sustained recovery - we can't simply bash it into submission once the crisis is confirmed to have passed. The government has a deficit position because of negative economic growth and the new 'temporary' spending in the stimulus package. So the deficit should be eliminated by rebounding growth and removing the recent spending increases. Ignatieff is wrong - higher taxes are not and should not be a certain consequence of the last budget.

Still it's good to hear people talking about these consequences. I hope they start having similar conversations in the US administration.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Finally a Bit of Good News

I heard two good news stories on the drive home yesterday. First, Brick brewing is adding a new canning line in their Kitchener facility. I should clarify when I said good news stories, I was referring to the economics of the story not simply that there would be more beer in the province - that's just a fringe benefit. The other news was a new condo development in an old factory in the Cambridge area. Neither story is particularly earth shattering. It's just since all this fuss started in October, I don't remember hearing any good news about local businesses. Yesterday there were two stories and nothing negative. I'll take it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

He's Walking

Back in February I wrote about my grandfather's (I call him Opa) struggle to recover from his stroke and that I would make praying for him a priority. Well I'm pleased to say he's walking, at least we were walking together briefly on Easter Sunday.

It was only the second time I saw him since his stroke and all I heard were mostly negative reports from my family about his ability and that he had zero strength in his legs. As far as I know he wasn't receiving any physiotherapy. However, I kept up praying that he would walk again consistently, most evenings and every time I went to Mass.

His children were scared to let him walk, but when I saw him rocking back and forth in his wheelchair, trying to get up, I convinced them that there would be no danger if one of us picked him up on either side. As soon as he was up, he had reached for his wife's walker and started leading us around the house, there was almost no weight on my hands as we walked around the house. Later when it was time to leave he got up again and walked with us to the car - he even walked down the rather steep stairs at the entrance to the house.

I'm really proud of him. Maybe he just had more strength than we gave him credit for. Maybe the hint of spring gave him more energy. Maybe he wanted to show his entire family what he was capable of. Probably it's a combination, but I'm certain the largest part of his success is God's answer to our prayers and for that I'm very thankful!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Super Soakers and Holy Water

Well we made it and what a ride. There was so much going on at Church this weekend, but we managed to make it to the 4 main events. There are a few things that stuck out at me.

First thing I think most Priests genuinely look forward to this. Especially Easter Vigil on Saturday night. There's a lot going on with a big fire at the back of church representing the light of Christ - the flame then spreads throughout the darkened church with everyone holding a candle. But the part these men look forward to most definitely seems to be when we renew our baptismal vows. The whole congregation repeats the vows and then the priest goes through the church and sprinkles everyone with holy water.

It seems they get more generous with the holy water every year it's only a matter of time until the priests are walking through the church with super soakers set to a wide spray and just hitting the fire button. I can imagine the retreat weekends they hold for young men considering entering the priesthood are just about sitting around watching videos about how throw as much water as possible.

They do the baptismal rite on Easter Sunday as well, but I think the priests are a little more restrained with all the extra people around on Sunday morning. Incidentally there were a lot of extra people around in our small parish on Sunday morning. We enjoyed Easter Sunday mass from the front steps because the standing room only section at the back was already full - and we weren't even late.

Suffice to say it was a joyful time at Church this weekend, which brought to mind a quote I read from Ayatollah Khomeini, who I think is as close as you get to an equivalent of the pope in the Muslim world. Anyway he was quoted saying:
"Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humour in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun or joy in whatever is serious."
Wow - glad I'm Catholic. I gotta say I prefer living in the joy of the Resurrection. But we Christians got our solemn moments as well. Good Friday was time to fast and reflect on the pain, suffering and brutal death that Jesus endured for our sins. It was a good reminder for me that God's love is real and tangible. It's easy to get disappointed and question His love and fairness when really important things just don't go our way. But Good Friday shows us the depth of Christ's love and that there really is no reason at all for us to hold on to any anger we have at Him.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ready for the Easter Marathon

It all begins tonight 4 days of church and family festivities. Easter has always been special for me - of course it would be with time off work or school and copious amounts of chocolate! But since I've been Catholic, the beauty of the services and the joy of the occasion have become progressively more important.

Tonight is Holy Thursday. We remember the last supper when Jesus broke bread and said to his disciples, "this is my body" and he gave himself to them the same way he gives himself to us every Sunday. We also remember his agony in the garden when he asked God to find another way to save us, but then prayed 'not my will, but yours be done.' We get to contrast that with the disciples who couldn't even stay awake while he was praying. I always take comfort in that - if I ever feel inadequate, I know I'm in good company.

Tomorrow is Good Friday. At 3:00 PM we remember the death Jesus died and the incredible pain and torture that he endured in order to pay the price for our sin.

Holy Saturday. We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our saviour. At the Easter vigil Saturday evening we welcome new catholics into the church.

Then on Easter Sunday. WE CELEBRATE. We just take in the pure joy that Jesus rose from the dead, proving that our short time in this life is just a warm up for the really good stuff.

I can't wait for it all to start!

The Beatles Sound Great Bashing Commies

I've recently discovered this hot new band called the Beatles. OK - more like new to me. I grew up listening to country with an ingrained fear that if I ever changed the radio station I'd end up listening to Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper or German Opera, all of which scared me. In an effort to broaden my horizons I added a classic rock station and it turns out they play quite a bit of material from this 'Beatles' group. Truth is they're not bad. Yesterday on my drive in to work I heard my new favourite song. Revolution:

I love it, the song sounds great but the lyrics are the best part. Take a look at this:

You say you want a revolution Well, you know We all want to change the world

You tell me that it's evolution Well, you know We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction Don't you know that you can count me out

Don't you know it's gonna be all right all right, all right

Later in the song they get even more explicit:
But when you want money for people with minds that hate All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
And then the best line in the song:
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow Yeah.
Way to stick it to the commies boys especially in the 1960's. I'm impressed.

Just one more random thought about this band. I have heard them somewhere before. . . that's right I think they performed on Sesame street playing 'Letter B.'

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

More Bad News for President Obabma

Folk/Rock music legend Bob Dylan gave Barack Obama a ringing endorsement last summer. Today Dylan says Obama is just another politician:
In an interview to be published on Dylan’s website today, the hero of 1960s counterculture seems to have cooled on the prospects of the recently elected American leader. Asked if he thought that Mr Obama would make a good president, the singer said that he had no idea. He added: “Most of those guys come into office with the best of intentions and leave as beaten men. Johnson would be a good example of that . . . Nixon, Clinton in a way, Truman, all the rest of them going back. You know, it’s like they all fly too close to the Sun and get burnt.”
This interview is apparently from Dylan's own website so you know he had complete control of what he wanted to say. I'll admit he could be a lot more harsh, but, when you compare this to his ringing endorsement from the summer Obama's gotta be disappointed:
“We’ve got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up . . . Barack Obama. He’s redefining what a politician is, so we’ll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I’m hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to.”
Oh, and the president's adoring fans in Europe seem to be getting prematurely tired of this guy too. Iain Martin asks, "Isn't it time for him to go home yet?"

Monday, April 06, 2009

Frank Klees Just Called

I just got done speaking with Frank Klees for about 20 minutes. I take it as a real compliment that a candidate for the leadership of the Ontario PC Party would personally call me to answer my questions and to talk about his campaign. He would have really impressed me if he said he had read my blog, but alas he called because one of my good friends on his campaign recommended he call me.

We had a very direct conversation. I asked him a very aggressive question about one of his past campaigns and he answered it very well. We talked about his motivation and the people that he had working on his campaign. I let him know I was a social conservative and I don't want to waist my time working for a Red Tory. He told me about his motivation for entering politics, his faith and his strong belief in individual responsibility.

I didn't commit my support to him yet, but I told him I'll make a decision by next Monday. I've got to have a few other conversations with folks on other campaigns, however, Frank did convince me that he's not the closet Red Tory in the crowd. He also has a number of people I highly respect on his campaign. I'm definitely considering supporting him.

Who is the Red Tory?

To listen to the rhetoric of Tim Hudak and read the coverage in the Toronto Star, he's trying to position himself as Mike Harris II. Christine Elliot is married to Jim Flaherty the Federal Conservative Finance minister, who comes from the conservative side of the conservative party. Party maverick Randy Hillier is running his campaign with a bold and attractive platform as a 'conservative's conservative.' Frank Klees has the public support of Charles Mc Vety a prominent evangelical leader. That's the complete rundown of candidates as far as I know.

We can't forget these candidates are competing to replace the party that elected John Tory and Ernie Eves, two red Tories that had disastrous results. However, the fact remains, that in the last two leadership elections red Tories from the far left of the party have been elected. The Reds were even able to keep John Tory on for more than a year after he should have resigned. So where are they going? Who are they supporting in this leadership battle?

I've committed to making a decision on who I will support by next week because the membership cut off is quickly approaching. However, I don't want to put any effort into electing the next Red Tory leader of our party. So my question remains who is it? Comments are welcome.

Friday, April 03, 2009

If You're Reading this at Work. . .

You're probably 9% more productive than the nose to the grindstone type that won't take a mental break. That's according to new Australian research:

MELBOURNE (Reuters Life!) – Caught Twittering or on Facebook at work? It'll make you a better employee, according to an Australian study that shows surfing the Internet for fun during office hours increases productivity. The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not.

Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said "workplace Internet leisure browsing," or WILB, helped to sharpened workers' concentration. "People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," Coker said on the university's website (

"Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days' work, and as a result, increased productivity," he said.

According to the study of 300 workers, 70 percent of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB.

Being Friday, I think I'm going to be especially productive today.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Abortion is NOT a Blessing

I got another reminder this evening why my painful decision to leave the Anglican Church 7 years ago and join the Catholic Church was the right thing to do. Whatever fault someone might find in the Catholic Church, you won't find this kind of heresy there. The Rev Katherine Hancock Ragsdale has just been named Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. A few years ago she gave a pep talk to abortion advocates saying:

Too often even those who support us can be heard talking about abortion as a tragedy. Let’s be very clear about this: When a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing. . .

And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it:

Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes — in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work.

Yikes! As sickening as I find this message, I find it interesting. Obviously the most notable thing is the simply states abortion isn't a tragedy but rather a blessing. She doesn't bother to refute those who say it's tragic/wrong/evil because it kills an unborn child. She just makes her statement and moves on.

I can imagine being an abortion advocate sitting there listening, having long ago forgotten that the unborn child is human. I can see how someone could get themselves right wound up into a quasi religious frenzy. That's why I'm glad my Church teaches that faith and reason are essential to each other. This is a prime example how 'faith' separated from logic and reason will quickly disintegrate into mere emotionalism - and that can lead to some really wacky ideas.

Brilliant Radio Contest

Hat's off to the creative folks at Q107 for coming up with a great idea for a radio contest:
It happens to the best of us. One day you’ve got a job, the next day you’re downsized. Competition for jobs is fierce and you need a way to stand out. We give you, Derringer’s On-Air Job Fair on The Mighty Q! Derringer wants to put You in the Line of Hire with a chance to talk to thousands of potential employers all at once! Weekday mornings Derringer gives job seekers a 60 second shot to sell themselves. Get ready to make the most of your minute!
I think this is a great idea for a contest. All it costs the station is 60 seconds of airtime, but the contest winner gets exposure that on a major market radio station will give them a huge leg up in their job search. If you're out of work, this could be a much better contest to win than a couple hundred bucks or some concert tickets.

I hope that they can start posting interviews soon from contest winners who have actually been connected to a job.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Jason Kenney is Making a Difference

Jason Kenney, is one of the hardest working politicians I've known. I met him first when I was in University and he agreed to speak at one of our campus club events. If I remember correctly, there were only around 20 people there, but he happily took time out of his busy travel schedule to speak to us and combined it with radio interviews, and presentations to a class on campus. He is intensely loyal and worked tirelessly while Stockwell Day led the Canadian Alliance. Stuck on the sidelines for too long, he's now a full fledged member of cabinet and he looks like he's setting out to make some truly transformational changes in immigration and multiculturalism. The National Post notes:
The higher-profile matters -- the Galloway issue, the scuffle with Arab groups, the language abilities of immigrants -- form the early marks of a pattern of what is to come. Rejecting the CAF's support for Islamic terrorists and arguably anti-Semitic messages, Mr. Galloway for financially supporting Hamas, calling for newcomers to better integrate: These are of a piece with efforts to fortify what the Conservatives would call The Canadian Identity. It is, Mr. Kenney makes clear, a vision for a country that stands up for its pluralism, but also for its core liberal traditions of tolerance, democracy and secularism. "We can't afford to be complacent about the challenge of integration," he says. "We want to avoid the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries. So far, we've been pretty successful at that, but I think it's going to require greater effort in the future to make sure that we have an approach to pluralism and immigration that leads to social cohesion rather than fracturing."
This is a big challenge, if Canada is going to continue to rely on immigration for growth, and there's probably no alternative, we have to make sure that immigrants integrate well with our cosmopolitan society. It's a difficult balancing act a group of established Polish immigrants would probably be the best people to help a new Polish immigrant get established. The problem comes when specific communities want to shut themselves out from the rest of society or become openly hostile to other communities and risk bringing their conflicts with them. If there's anyone who can navigate these choppy waters it's Jason. I've noted he's a trooper who will put extraordinary effort into getting the job done. The National Post also noted his background will give him a big advantage:
But political opponents looking to brand him as too redneck for the sensitive immigration file find it hard to land a punch. In his diverse Calgary Southeast riding, families speak fondly of Mr. Kenney's efforts, long before he became the minister in charge, in helping them sort out immigration issues; his key staffers, including a Tibetan, a Muslim and an Armenian, resemble the dessert lineup at the UN cafeteria. He spearheaded the government's efforts to recognize the Ukrainian Holdomor, its apology to the East Indian community for the Komagata Maru incident, he has defended Chinese Uyghur Muslims and paid his respects at the Mumbai Jewish centre attacked by terrorists. On his office wall hang portraits of abolitionist heroes William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln. A few years ago, Mr. Kenney boarded an entire family newly arrived from India in his Calgary home while they settled into Canadian life. "It gave me, for the first time, a real view of the immigration experience from the eyes of a family that's landed without any previous connections in Canada," he says. "I benefited from it as much or more than they did." Today, the kids call him Uncle Jason.
Looks like Stephen Harper picked the right man for the job. God bless your efforts Jason.