9/28/2002

This letter is printed in the National Post today. What is wrong with this country that we let this shit happen?
Just over two months ago, my brother, Captain Colin Sonoski, and Captain Julie-Anne McKenzie, were killed in Newfoundland after the military helicopter they were piloting crashed in the wilderness. Two others on-board were also seriously hurt.

Why did it crash? Because the tail rotor literally fell off the helicopter, in-flight, while they were out on a search and rescue mission trying to save the lives of other Canadians.


Colby Cosh continues to surprise... Now he's actually come out and declared himself "a worse-than-average" driver. What the fu...? Nobody is a worse than average driver. Well. Maybe some girls and really old guys with hats. But for an average adult male to claim 'worse than average' as a driver is an affront to the natural order of things. Colby, don't blame yourself. Blame other drivers, blame stray animals darting into the street, blame the vehicle or the road conditions or the sun in your eyes, blame a freak reflection off of a tin roof, but don't ever, ever, blame your own driving skills. It upsets the entire balance of the automotive world. Take it back, Colby, say you were drunk or high or engaged in automotive sex but never, never say "mea culpa" or "my bad" - there's just too much at stake.
Dalton McGuinty is the leader of the Liberal opposition in Ontario and, if you believe the polls, destined to become the next Premier. What I don't understand is why anyone takes this doofus seriously. Dalton has just announced his plan to turn schools into prisons for all children between the ages of 16 & 18.
Under an Ontario Liberal government, students would be forced to remain in school or a training program until the age of 18 and their parents would face cash fines if they drop out, Dalton McGuinty, the party leader, said yesterday.

Mr. McGuinty, who polls suggest could succeed Ernie Eves as premier of Ontario after an election expected next year, announced a $1.6-billion education and subsidized childcare program to be funded by cancelling $2.2-billion in corporate tax cuts planned by the Conservative government and scrapping private-school tax credits.

Along with raising the legal school-leaving age from 16, which is the standard across Canada, Mr. McGuinty said he would guarantee that 75% of students in Grades 3, 6 and 9 will pass province-wide reading, writing and mathematics tests within a Liberal government's first four years in office.

It's so typical of these morons, set yourself a goal that is admittedly worthwhile (who could argue with more and better education for our children?) and then work out the most intrusive, authoritarian, counter-productive measures you can imagine to create a whack of new problems and make the goal secondary to the implementation strategy. It's not just the stupidity of the idea that amazes me, it's the fact that this strategy was presumably conceived and discussed and debated and fine-tuned by a raft of (presumably) well-meaning political thinkers and it still saw the light of day.

Bulletin to Dalton McGuinty: There are some problems, some mundane human failings, that you simply can not legislate out of existence. You can punish those failings, if that's your inclination, but punishment will simply add resentment and bitterness to the existing problem. That's not win/win... that's lose/lose. The failing student becomes a captive and the willing student suddenly has to share his school with a group of disruptive, unco-operative prisoners who actually have the legitimate beef they've been looking for all along.

This idea sucks from top to bottom.





Real science doesn't do polls.


Rex Murphy comes through again. This time he's questioning the same 16,000 deaths figures I did a couple days ago. If only I could write like him...
A lot of scientists agreeing on something is not the same thing as a scientific consensus. Any sentence that begins "A majority of the world's scientists agree . . ." is not reporting a scientific finding; it's announcing a preference. It's a poll. Real science doesn't do polls. E = MC2 wasn't arrived at by a show of hands; the equations that spell out the workings of the universe were not put to a vote.

When we hear of a consensus on global warming we are being told -- covertly, but told nonetheless -- that it isn't a scientific fact. And when we're told that it "contributes" to the death of 16,000 Canadians, even when we're being told by David Suzuki, we're being hectored, as opposed to informed.



9/26/2002

Here's an interesting item from CTV news. It concerns the fact that the PMO is hiding information from the Liberal caucus as well as the general public. It's a sad commentary that we can only be surprised at the former deception and accept the latter as the normal course of business. Anyway, there are a couple of secondary points that I wanted to make and this article seems as good a jumping off point as any.

1) David Suzuki is quoted - "I want to remind you that before the civil war in the U.S., the southern states said, 'We can't afford to abolish slavery. It'll ruin our economy.' Some things have to be done just because they're right,"

Surely that's the most inappropriate analogy under the sun, right?
You wish. Here's Environment Minister David Anderson on the same topic: "If Winston Churchill had said in 1939 that we are not going to challenge the Nazis until we know exactly how much it will cost and how long the war will last, then we would never have won the war," Gee David, I hadn't thought of it that way.

The other thing that's contained in the article is mention of the medical community jumping on the Kyoto Bandwagon.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 doctors say the economic debate over Kyoto is overshadowing the public health benefits that would result from meeting the accord's targets.

Canadian scientist David Suzuki joined doctors supporting Kyoto, along with 50 medical and health associations from across the country, in signing a statement in support of ratifying the protocol.


Although the treaty focuses on greenhouse emissions, it also calls for the reduction in other smog-causing pollutants, which the doctors blame for an estimated 16,000 premature deaths annually.

Let's fact check these statements;

David Suzuki did not 'join' these civic minded physicians, he recruited them and formulated their statement for them. Are you curious how the doctors arrived at the 16,000 premature deaths figure? The government told them... According to the government of Canada, up to 16,000 Canadians die prematurely each year from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels.

Nifty trick eh? The government feeds them some complete horseshit statement and the doctors parrot it back to the media and the horseshit statement becomes an accepted factoid untainted by association with the government. How long before Chretien or one of his senior flunkies is repeating that '16,000 stiffs' garbage as independent corroboration of the wisdom of their views? I'd guess about 48-72 hours myself.








9/24/2002

This is something I posted on Bourques Discussion Board today...

Arrogance in the large things is easy to identify but it's in the smallest things that you see the nature of arrogance most plainly revealed. Jets from Bombardier and suspect loans from the BDC garner all the attention but they also get spun (and spun hard) so that doubts creep in - "perhaps we're being too cynical," is the thought that is planted in the public mind. "Let's look at both sides, let's be fair." It's not even close to a public endorsement but spin is not intended to change minds, it's only meant to deflect attention, give the people a better interpretation which they can embrace reluctantly as they turn back to the hockey game. The sheer effort that the PMO puts into damage control is seen as the consolation prize, a recognition of the error of their ways. We'd like to see an apology or an admission but, in the absence of those admissions, we point to policy changes as 'tacit admission' and we take some cold comfort in that tacit - but illusory -admission of guilt.

I say 'illusory' because I think it is down in the day-to-day workings and machinations of the gov't that the true nature of a government is revealed. By that measure, the Liberal government is absolutely rotten with arrogance and corruption.

An article in the Hill Times yesterday says that Peter Milliken, the Speaker of the House of Commons, told MP Dick Proctor that '...members of the Electoral Commission are appointed on the advice of Regional Ministers of the government.'

http://www.thehilltimes.ca/2002/september/23/rana/

Every ten years, after the census, the electoral boundaries in Canada are redrawn to reflect changes in population levels and distribution. The purpose is to ensure that representation is balanced (more or less - within existing constitutional constraints) across the country. The job of drawing the lines on the map - setting the geography into ridings - is done by the electoral commissions. Each province has an electoral commission made up of a Chairman (appointed by the chief justice of the province) and two other members appointed by the Speaker of the House. These boards will accept submissions from interested parties, including effected MPs, but their final decisions are binding. It doesn't take much imagination to see what trouble these commissions could get up to if they weren't strictly non-partisan. They could, for instance, rejig boundaries so that a popular local incumbent is suddenly running in a new riding that excludes 90% of his previous constituents. They could redraw the boundaries between ridings so that a Liberal stronghold could lend some strength to a riding that seems a little shaky. Frankly, the opportunities for mischief are endless. Recognizing that fact, the commissions were designed to be independent, non-partisan and beholden to no party.

The Speaker of the House is a symbolic position. Recall the uproar when Keith Martin of the CA picked up the mace, the symbolic representation of the Speaker's authority. In Milliken's own words he is "...the personification of authority and impartiality..." in the House of Commons. One of his duties, a duty arising directly from his sworn impartiality and a task that demands the highest standard of integrity, is naming members to the Electoral Commissions of each province.

Regional Ministers of the government, on the other hand, are about nothing _but_ partisanship. They serve the interests of their parties first and last and at all points in between. Alfonso Gagliano was the Regional Minister for Quebec. Regional Ministers are about patronage and political favours and photo ops and detail work all designed to strengthen their party in their own territory. They may be fine human beings, family men or women, humanitarians, vegetarians, Rotarians or Shriners, but their job is to promote the interests of their party and the good ones do it very well.

So when Peter Milliken says that he's appointing electoral commissioners on the advice of regional ministers we've got a serious problem. First of all, the Commissions (all ten of them) are seriously compromised. If these commissions are being appointed by the Liberal party (and Milliken has stated that they are, if Dick Proctor is to be believed...) then their impartiality is completely destroyed. Whether or not any particular member was appointed by a Liberal Minister is irrelevant, all have been tainted with the suggestion of partisanship and all of their decisions will necessarily be suspect. Would an MP or a losing candidate be able to launch an appeal or a lawsuit against a commission decision?

The practical problem is one thing (and a very serious thing IMO) but it's the attitude underlying the problem that really speaks volumes. When the Speaker of the House just casually hands off his authority like it was some trinket - some small but handy device like a lighter or a penknife - and then offers a straightforward, unapologetic statement about the difference between theory and practice, then we have to wonder how deep the rot has penetrated. It reveals such a casual contempt for the trappings and methods of a working democracy. Everyone displays a certain level of cynicism about the spread between the theory and the practice of democratic institutions between when the Speaker himself displays such deep, unthinking cynicism about the system then we really are courting serious trouble.

Milliken refuses to confirm or deny Proctor's quotation of his statement. I phoned his spokeswoman today and she said that Milliken has made no public statement about this matter and "he will not be making any statement about it."
She agreed that Proctor's statements have cast serious doubt on Milliken's impartiality but, all the same, no statement will be forthcoming. She did assure me that Milliken made the appointments himself, for what that's worth. It's not worth a damn thing to me, but I thought I'd share it in the same spirit of generosity that Milliken displays.

"Here's some little thing that I've picked up somewhere, it's of no value to me but perhaps you can make some use of it."
Jean Chretien is getting more press in the American media (detractors will claim that FrontPage Magazine is hardly the mainstream media - point granted). The article outlines the standard objections to Chretien's 9/11 statement which we will ignore since they have been thrashed out here -ad nauseum- for the past week. It's the conclusion drawn that interests me...
There is also more to Chrétien's latest shameful blatherings than meets the eye. While they appear to be the usual left-liberal, anti-Bush/Republican claptrap, his statements conceal a deeper purpose.

The Canadian Prime Minister announced a short time ago he will not run in the next election, scheduled to take place sixteen months from now. After serving three terms in office, Chrétien wanted a fourth, but was forced to bow out to a Liberal party rival. But an ego-driven Prime Minister like Chrétien, who has been at the public trough almost thirty years [almost 40 -ed.] didn't voluntarily leave one office without having his sights set on a bigger prize — the secretary-generalship of the United Nations. And he has been campaigning hard for the job.

Just this week, he appeared at a session of the UN general assembly where he called for a large aid program for Africa in an obvious solicitation of votes from that part of the world. Returning to his theme of September 11 remarks, he also indicated the West should give money to poor countries to ensure its safety from future attacks.

This must have been music to every Third World dictator's ears. Give us money and we won't attack you. If you don't, then it is your fault if we do. Chrétien definitely gets their votes now.

And the beauty of Chrétien's position is that he doesn't have to worry about Canadian public opinion any more, let alone the feelings of the families of Canadian victims of the 9/11 tragedy, since he isn't running for office in Canada again. So, in his campaign for the top UN job, he can safely ignore polls such as the one which showed the majority of Canadians strongly disagreed with his September 11 comments. Even more importantly, the Liberal leader gets to use the prestige and the resources of the Prime Minister's office to go after Kofi Annan's job.

So if you think Chrétien's September 11 comments were offensive, hold on to your hats. His worst is yet to come.

An interesting theory, I'm a bit skeptical myself but it bears some thought.




9/23/2002

In-freaking-credible!!!



The Hill Times headline reads "Opposition MPs cry foul over electoral boundaries."
Yeah, yeah, what else is new? Opposition MP's cry foul over scattered showers and broken shoelaces, tell me something I don't know. How about this, then; Liberal Partisans redrawing electoral boundaries to benefit of Liberal party.

Opposition MPs are now publicly questioning how some new electoral boundaries benefit incumbent Liberals while eliminating ridings currently held by the opposition parties.

NDP MP Yvon Godin (Acadie-Bathurst, N.B.) told The Hill Times that he still wonders why only Liberal MPs and Cabinet ministers had known that they can pass on or recommend the names of individuals to head up the commissions in each province to the House Speaker while opposition MPs seemed to be left in the dark about this right


My first reaction to this kind of news is frustration with the piss-poor quality of the opposition in this country. This sounds like the whining of a lazy student complaining about his poor marks. "Nobody told me we could re-write the test, Nobody told me we could get extra help, Nobody told me to get off my ass and do the research. It's just not fair."

There is a lot of this kind of complaining in the article but, further down, we get a fuller appreciation of what's going on...

NDP MP Dick Proctor (Pallister, Sask.), however, said in an interview with The Hill Times that in Saskatchewan, two of the names were submitted from the University of Regina to the Speaker's Office, but when the university didn't hear from the House Speaker's Office asked Mr. Proctor to look into it. Mr. Proctor said when he approached Speaker Milliken to find out what happened with the names, Mr. Milliken told him that theoretically the Speaker of the House makes the appointments of the three-member boundary commissions while in actual practice regional federal Cabinet ministers put forward the names and he confirms those names.

"The Speaker told me when I went to him to ask what happened to the names of professors whose names were submitted to his office for the [federal electoral boundaries] commission and he told me theoretically, I make the appointments but actually regional ministers make the recommendations and he confirms those names," said Mr. Proctor.


Milliken's office refuses to comment. Which we can safely conclude is an admission that Proctor is reporting the conversation accurately... Dick Proctor is the guy who busted Andy Scott for bragging about the fact that the fix was in on the APEC inquiry, a former journalist and a man you can't easily smear.

According to Milliken's own website the Speaker of the House is "the personification of authority and impartiality."
In order to ensure complete impartiality, the Speaker usually renounces all connections with any parliamentary party. The Speaker does not attend any party caucus nor take part in any outside partisan political activity. When an MP is elected Speaker, essentially he or she no longer belongs to any party. It is no longer their function to support the government, or any of the opposition parties. The Speaker’s allegiance is solely to the House of Commons and to the 300 other members of Parliament who are there.

This from the man who voluntarily passes over his authority and impartiality to "regional ministers" of the Liberal Party of Canada. If you're unsure what a 'regional minister' is, recall that Alfonso Gagliano was the 'regional minister for Quebec.' A regional minister is in charge of doling out favours and calling in favours - a regional minister is a fixer, a hack, his job is to preserve or promote the strength of his party in his region using all the tools and powers of the government. It's an unpleasant (but some say, necessary) part of party politics, but this shit is something else again. Petty crimes are expected from petty criminals but not from the very symbols of democratic authority. Milliken was given an additional measure of authority and power for the promise of a higher standard of integrity and he handed that power over to some backroom fixers like it was some bauble he picked up and slipped in his pocket like some habitual shoplifter. Here's a little trinket, use it if you like, I've no real need for it.

I think the opposition needs to introduce a motion to strip the Speaker of his position for blatantly abandoning even the pretence of impartiality. This is outrageous. I don't know how else to express it.




Perhaps the least surprising news you'll read this week...

Officials close to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien intervened with civil servants in January, seeking information to justify the purchase of two new state-of-the-art Challenger 604 corporate jets, according to internal National Defence documents obtained by the Montreal Gazette.

However, documents made public under the federal Access to Information Act show top military brass felt the existing Challenger fleet was in good shape and hoped the briefing notes they were asked to prepare would dissuade the government from buying the new aircraft.

UNSURPRISING UPDATE:

The federal government's apparently rushed decision to spend $100-million in March on corporate jets for the Prime Minister and other ministers was, in fact, the culmination of a seven-month campaign by a Bombardier lobbyist, government documents reveal.

INEVITABLE ADDITIONAL UNSURPRISING UPDATE:

Opposition parties unanimously called yesterday for Auditor General Sheila Fraser to investigate the government's purchase of two of Bombardier's new state-of-the-art Challenger 604 jets for VIP travel, saying it's clear Prime Minister Jean Chrétien misled Parliament.

They also called upon Ms. Fraser to examine whether close links between Mr. Chrétien's Liberal party and Bombardier played any role in the purchase.


If Steven Harper opens Question Period with this issue then I'm ready to give up... It's not that I don't care about another $100,000,000 transferred from the public purse to Bombardier under the very thinnest veneer of sleaze. It's just the fact that we're setting off on another round of the mulberry bush and absolutely nothing will come of it. A lot of bluster and outrage and moral indignation (I know, I know, look who's talking) without a chance in a million of changing anything. It's so dreary and predictable and pointless.

Ottawa-centric comment, Please Ignore


Lowell Green at CFRA makes me laugh... for a lot of reasons.

The thing that makes me laugh today is another of Lowell's impromptu "polls" in which people are invited to phone him up and express a 'yes or no' opinion on this or that burning issue. It's not the issue that makes me laugh though, it's Lowell's frequent exhortations to get people to call... "Call right away, we'll get you on and we'll get you off."

Is it just me or does it sound like Lowell is running an Express Phone Sex service for the busy exec. No time for that slow seductive build-up? Don't want to waste valuable time on setting the mood? Call CFRA!! We'll get you on and get you off. Call now! Call now! Call now!!! If you'd called 3 minutes ago you'd already be cleaning yourself up! DO IT NOW!!!




My old friend and faithful correspondent, Rick Glasel, has found his way back to the Hellhole. Welcome back.
Now about that Kyoto thing: Other people have put forward the anti-Kyoto arguments better than me, so I won't rehash why it is a complete waste of economic output even if it only costs $1.00; but we are getting a flood of logically challenged pro-Kyoto arguments these days. It's like the pundits and politicians think they can convince us with a suffocating blanket of low-grade commentary. As far as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities goes, this is the playground of Mel Lastman, and Glen Murray, Winnipeg's mayor, and the two of them could generate enough hot air for statistically significant climate change by themselves. Municipal politics right across Canada is the domain of more nuts and flakes than all other flavors of political life combined. A lot of civic politicians are bottom-feeders, failed businessmen and unemployed socialists. The really talented ones, like Art Eggleton, get to be federal politicians. And the United Nations wants municipalities to receive more tax revenue? And what does a Lastman, Murray, or Bill Smith (Edmonton's mayor) know about carbon sinks and greenhouse effects?

I had a similar thought myself; it seems to me that the municipal governments see the Kyoto Protocol as a potential cash-cow. Money for public transit, retro-fitting, social engineering etc... etc... I'm actually growing quite alarmed about the Kyoto protocol because the Liberals are going very heavy on the carrot and very light on the stick in the run-up to the vote. I've a feeling that carrots and sticks will be switching positions in a big way in the aftermath of ratification.

You hear rumblings about a $5 billion dollar incentive fund without a tax raise(as if Jean Chretien had a spare $5B tucked away in his sock drawer all along). Chretien tells the oil producers that their end of the Kyoto load will be only 20% and consumers will pick up the other 80% but they tell us in the news this morning that consumers account for less than 30% of green-house gases and we'll only be accountable for 9% in any case (and look at this... FREE MONEY, FREE MONEY). Whoops! Where's the missing 50%? "Never mine dat, jus sign here."