Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not the Time for All Day Kindergarten

Moira MacDonald is spot on with her commentary in the Toronto Sun noting that:

The decision by the McGuinty Liberal government to not only plunge ahead with all-day kindergarten, but add $500 million to its previous $1-billion cost by opting for a full-day, rather than half-day kindergarten teacher (score another one for the teachers' unions), represents a gamble in the face of a $25-billion deficit for this year.

Whether the government wins its bet or not, those same kindergartners will be among those saddled with the bill, however slickly Premier Dalton McGuinty side-stepped questions yesterday about how to pay for it.

It is a huge gamble indeed. Setting aside the merits of whether full time schooling is really the right thing for kindergarten students, this decision is really a massive expansion of government at a time when we can ill afford the increase. Cutting $25 billion annually in spending or raising taxes on an ever-shrinking provincial economy is going to be painful enough adding a new and questionable cost now is simply wrong headed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Questions Than Answers

The Toronto Sun reports that married men are apparently much more attractive to women than single men. Sounds like a recipe for heartbreak to me:

According to a recent study out of Oklahoma State University, the urge to lure away a married man is a real phenomenon known as "mate poaching."

For the study, men and women were asked to describe their ideal romantic partner and were told they'd be computer matched with someone who met their criteria. Half of the participants were told their matches were involved with somebody else, whereas the other 50% believed them to be single.

Here's where things get sticky. When researchers described a man as single, just 59% of the women expressed interest in him, but when he was considered off-the-market, a whopping 90% were eager to get their hooks in.

Men, however, showed no preference for women in relationships.

I never would have expected those results. I honestly would have thought people in general would look for someone unattached so there's fewer complications.

I pointed the story out to a friend of mine at work, and she explained that if a man's married at least one other woman thought he was a good catch and at least he's willing to make a committment. Once a guy gets past a certain age she figures there must be a reason he's still single.

I definitely appreciated her insight but I'm still left with more questions than answers:

Why do women and men think so differently about this?

Aren't women who pursue a married man just setting themselves up for heartbreak?

Shouldn't married men be more aware of this to better guard their hearts and remain faithful?

Is it possible that I'M EVEN MORE ATTRACTIVE than I thought? ;P

I Want a Mark Carney T-Shirt

Mark Carney clearly gets it, telling traders to focus on inflation rather than speculatively driving our dollar higher:

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said currency traders should focus more on how the bank will meet its inflation target when thinking about whether policy makers are considering action to stem its gains.

“Markets should take seriously our determination to set policy to achieve the inflation target,” Carney said at a news conference today, when asked if traders are taking seriously the chances of intervention. “Markets sometimes lose their focus, we don’t lose our focus.”

The primary responsibility of the central bank is to control inflation, that means raising interest rates when price increases threaten to destabilize the economy. It also means there's absolutely no need to raise interest when our dollar has strengthened dramatically - our dollar's strength will keep downward pressure on prices for the foreseeable future.

The strong Canadian dollar makes imports cheaper, as well as making Canadian companies' costs relatively higher than their American competitors. Anyone who participates in international markets, either by exporting, competing with imports, or selling services internationally is going to be hurt by a rapid rise in the Canadian dollar. That's why the Bank of Canada noted Tuesday that the dollar's strength will “more than fully offset” recent signs of growth.

I've noticed a lot of bravado coming from currency traders saying the drop in the dollar as a result of Carney's comments is a buying opportunity. I think it's time for those boys to take contorl of their testosterone. Bloomberg notes:

Carney also said today the bank still “retains considerable flexibility in the conduct of monetary policy at low interest rates,” and that “intervention is always an option.” He spoke during a news conference in Ottawa today after releasing a quarterly economic forecast.

“That is a pretty blunt smack down of some recent commentary,” said David Watt, senior currency strategist in Toronto at RBC Capital, a unit of Canada’s biggest bank. “It shows that the Bank of Canada isn’t musing about exit strategies; I’m not even sure it’s done with stimulus.”

RBC is right. All the tools remain in the Bank of Canada's court. The Bank recognizes that a persistently increasing dollar will seriously hurt our economy so the Bank is prepared to put the brakes on the dollar's ascent. I commend the Bank for its courage and sense of purpose and I'd warn speculators betting on a stronger Canadian dollar that taking on our central bank is likely to be a losing propostion.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ruby Dhalla's Dead Horse Beaten Again

Ruby Dhalla's Private Member's bill to extend old age security benefits to immigrants who have been in Canada for as little as 3 years was never going to go anywhere. Now even the Brampton Guardian says it's time for Dhalla to give up on the idea:

Last June, Brampton-Springdale MP Ruby Dhalla introduced a Private Member’s Bill to amend the benefits act so immigrant seniors can qualify to receive old age security benefits after three years instead of 10 years. . .

The bill has raised a storm of controversy, and rightfully so.

Now is not the right time to toy with this issue. The economy is stressed and government coffers are also strained.

Besides, the Private Member’s Bill doesn’t have a chance in hell of passing as long has the Tories hold power.

Dhalla’s bill is nothing more than grandstanding and an attempt to win votes from her constituents. If Dhalla and the Liberals are serious about pension and benefit fairness, put the issue in their platform and run on it in the next election.

Brampton is Dhalla's home turf and it has one of the largest concentrations of recent immigrants in the country. It's bad news for her if even this newspaper wants her to give up.

The Libersals have sensibly distanced themselves from this bill, and I can't see the proposal being included in the next platform. To me the proposal violates a basic sense of fairness, and I wonder, why would elderly immigrants even expect to receive a cheque every month from Canadian taxpayers if they haven't contributed anything at all to our economy?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Shouldn't a Nobel Prize . . .

go to someone who actually accomplished something?

So Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace prize:

OSLO — US President Barack Obama sensationally won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday less than a year after he took office with the jury hailing his "extraordinary" diplomatic efforts on the international stage.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the Nobel jury said in making the stunning announcement.

It said the decision was unanimous.

The committee attached "special importance to Obama's vision and work for a world without nuclear weapons" and said he had created "a new climate in international politics."

I'm just not sure how they came to this conclusion. Vision is one thing - but impact is what matters. Over his watch, the situation in Afghanistan has progressively worsened and Iran appears to be on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons.

I don't usually put much faith in the opinions of music radio DJs but, tellingly I was listening to MacArthur in the Morning on 103.9 FM, and the one announcer said to the other, "Don't you think this is a little premature?"

"I think it's A LOT premature" was the response. My guess is that'll be the consensus opinion around the world.

Hey Panic Mongers - We Just Don't Care

The Canadian Press reports Canadians Don't see H1N1 as a Personal Threat.

In the story Dr. Michael Gardam observes, "It would be far easier to go down this road [encouraging vaccinations] if it was a more virulent virus."

No kidding this whole story has been overkill since day 1 and thankfully Canadians aren't buying it. Maybe now the media will move on and find another reason to try to create a global panic.

Here are some neat details from the poll:

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll suggests interest in the swine flu vaccine has declined in Canada, with only a third of people now saying they will get the shot, compared to 45 per cent in late August . . .

The poll, conducted from Oct. 1 to 5, suggests at this point people don't believe this virus will have much impact on their lives. Only 11 per cent of people described themselves as very concerned about H1N1, and 25 per cent said they were somewhat concerned. Nearly two-thirds of people said they either were not very concerned or weren't concerned at all about H1N1.

Three-quarters of Canadians surveyed felt they would be exposed to seasonal flu this winter, but only 45 per cent felt they would be exposed to the pandemic virus.

Only five per cent of respondents felt they were very likely to contract swine flu, and 72 per cent felt they were not that likely or not likely at all to get infected with the new virus. In contrast, 18 per cent felt they were very likely to get sick with seasonal flu. . .

The poll suggests half of people don't plan to get any flu shot at all this year. Of the 50 per cent who do, 27 per cent said they would get both seasonal and pandemic flu shots. In total, 33 per cent indicated they would get an H1N1 shot and 36 per cent said they'd get a seasonal flu shot.

Those numbers actually align pretty closely with the percentage of the population that rolls up its sleeve for flu shots in regular years - further proof, Gardam said, that suggests people don't see the pandemic virus as a greater-than-normal threat at this point.

Monday, October 05, 2009

My opinion of Harper just changed dramatically. I'd say overnight but I only saw a YouTube video of his Beatles' cover this morning:

[Note on the video. I've seen a few, this one has my favourite camera angle.]

I've campaigned for the Conservatives in the last few elections and I've kept donations going to my favourite conservative candidates or MPs, but, I've still had a mild discomfort with Stephen Harper. He strikes me as a brilliant strategist and a very effective Prime Minister, however, he very often seems cold and ruthless too.

Today, thanks to Lauren, he seems a lot more likable, even fun.

At home, he plays the piano “almost daily,” Mrs. Harper said . . .

[The] band met Mr. Harper through “a friend of a friend,” according to percussionist Phil Nolan, a high-school music teacher by day. “We've gone over [to 24 Sussex Dr.] a couple of times this summer to jam,” Mr. Nolan said Sunday.

Those jam sessions made Herringbone a natural choice for Mr. Harper's stage debut. “We got a phone call,” Mr. Nolan said. “It was Laureen's idea to play and so we decided we'd get together and see.”

He said their first real rehearsal was Sept. 27, less than a week before they were scheduled to play “the show of our lives.”

Together they chose the performance piece, Mr. Nolan said. The decision was not based on lyrics or symbolism. “My husband loves the Beatles, the song was in his vocal range and that is about it,” Mrs. Harper said.

Summertime jam sessions and covering Beatles' tunes. . . That's just plain awesome. We'll be jamming with some friends this Saturday night. It's something regular people do. All of a sudden Stephen Harper seems a lot more real.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Trying to Understand Liberal Infighting

I have to admit it's been pretty fun watching the Liberals scramble in the wake of Denis Coderre's resignation. As a Conservative I'm very familiar with revolts against the party leader. I've been on both sides, publicly calling for John Tory's resignation and staunchly defending Stockwell Day when he was leader of the Canadian Alliance.

At the same time the latest battle seems a little foreign. As I understand it Mr. Coderre and his Quebec allies had a favourite candidate to run in a very winnable riding and Ignatieff had already given his tacit approval. BUT Ignatieff's Toronto buddies decided they would pick their own candidate and convinced Ignatieff to approve theirs. Coderre was cheesed off and quit his party position.

So we've got the Quebec Liberal party elites angry with the Toronto Liberal party elites. If I were a Liberal party member in the riding in question I'd be mad at both groups. Where I come from a party membership entitles you to vote for your candidate. Apparently that's not the case if you are in a riding that the Liberals think they can win.

Canadians should be asking themselves not only how can the Liberals manage the country when they can't manage their own party, but also how much will they respect Canadian voters when they don't even respect their own party members.

Shameless Plug - Riding Fundraiser

On Saturday October 17, 2009 the Wellington Halton Hills Conservative Riding Asssociation is hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner at the Optimist Hall on Trafalgar Road west of Georgetown. Tickets are a very reasonable $40.00 each and the food is great. For tickets contact Laurie at "mlaurien - AT -" by October 9.

I've gone in years past and both the actors and the meal were excellent. If you're in the area it's definitely good value for your money. If you do plan on going please leave a comment, I'm still deciding whether to go and you might help tip the scales for me.

Those Nasty Conspirators

I've had this bumper sticker hanging around my cubicle for many years now. . .

An old friend of mine pointed out that it's still useful! That's right. Bill Clinton still believes there's a network of right wing conspirators that are out to get him and the rest of the Democrats. LOL. What a guy.

Don't worry Bill it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.