Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Orono Weekly Times: "Seminar fallout gives Clarington a bad rap"

It was bound to happen. I've been buckling down and anticipating a negative media story about the Liberty Summer Seminar, and the decision, by the municipality, to charge my mom and dad for letting me host the LSS on my parents' property in Orono. I just didn't expect it to come from the local paper.

One reason why I didn't expect it is because I used to write a weekly column for the Orono Weekly Times, and had a great relationship with the editor, Marg Zwart, who wrote the opinion piece.

I also didn't expect it because I didn't hear back from the Orono Times after sending them a press release about the charges that my parents are facing. No one called us. So I figured the newspaper had decided not to write about my family because, maybe, it represented a "conflict of interest" for my former editor to write about me and my family.

But she did write about my family. There was a news story, as well as a more recent opinion piece. Both are unsympathetic, and both hinge on "facts" that aren't so. Facts that I could have cleared up through a simple email or phone conversation. The Orono Weekly Times is the only media outlet that did not get in touch with us (although they did get in touch with the Chief Bylaw Officer in the municipality).

But never mind. Take a read through the blog post I put up on the website chronicling what we've been calling the "Clarington saga." I will post up a response there once I hear back about whether or not my response will be published in the newspaper next Wednesday.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on September 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Home owners burnt by barbecue

My parents are getting in trouble with the municipality because of the Liberty Summer Seminar that I host on their property. I'd appreciate your help.

Here's an excerpt of the press release:

Due to an anonymous zoning complaint filed with the local municipality, husband and wife bed-and-breakfast proprietors Marta & Lech Jaworski may be forced to pay as much as $50,000 in fines for permitting their son, Peter, to use his family’s property to host the Liberty Summer Seminar, an annual barbecue in support of liberty.

“Our family escaped Poland for fear of reprisals in 1984 after my mom and dad handed out pro-democracy and pro-freedom literature from under my baby carriage,” said Peter Jaworski. “It’s ironic and upsetting that they may now be facing charges in Canada for allowing me to host an event in support of those very same principles.”

The Liberty Summer Seminar is a non-profit event for like-minded individuals hosted by the Institute for Liberal Studies, a registered charity in Canada.

The LSS has drawn hundreds of students and young people, prominent academics, like emeritus professor of philosophy Jan Narveson who was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, journalists like CBC’s Kady O’Malley and U.S.-based Reason Magazine senior editor Michael C. Moynihan, as well as politicians like M.P. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, M.P.P. Randy Hillier, and M.P. Scott Reid, as well as , amongst many others.

Read the rest.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on August 17, 2010 in Canadian Provincial Politics, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (8)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Face the pain: Mixed Martial Arts finally legal in Ontario

In February, Ontario PC Party leader Tim Hudak urged the Ontario government to permit MMA in the province. In March, UFC president Dana White expressed confidence that the UFC would come to Ontario.

Last year, we reported on the fact that MMA was the fastest growing sport in Canada. Small wonder, with Georges "Rush" St-Pierre as the current welterweight title-holder, and numerous other Canadians making a splash in the sport. Dana White has commented on the fact that Canada appears to be one of the world's primary training grounds for world-class MMA fighters.

Hudak's pushing and White's confidence was not in vain. Today, Dalton McGuinty, premier of Ontario, has announced that Ontario will permit MMA in Ontario.

CityTV News reports:

This is a dramatic change of heart for Premier Dalton McGuinty, who has previously said legalizing the sport is not a priority for his government.

“Our government has been monitoring MMA for some time,” said Sophia Aggelonitis, Minister of Consumer Services in a statement. “We know that the sport has evolved and that Ontarians want to see it here. My goal is to make sure we have the tools to keep the competitors safe, and provide an economic boost to communities that want to host MMA events.”

The province says it expects MMA events, such as those put on by the incredibly popular Ultimate Fighting Championship, to draw up to 30, 000 fans and generate up to $6 million dollars in income for local economies.

How committed is the UFC, the largest MMA organization in the world, to Canada and to Ontario? The Toronto Sun reports:

Tom Wright, director of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Canadian Operations, said the organization made a significant commitment to Canada by opening a Toronto office, and is prepared to hold three or four global pay per view events in major cities in the country every year.

“We feel confident that properly managed that we would probably take our first event to the (Toronto) Rogers Centre, understanding that no decisions have been made and really it’s premature until such a time as our sport is actually sanctioned,” Wright said prior to the Ontario government’s announcement.

In addition to filling major venues like the Rogers Centre and the Air Canada Centre, Wright said the UFC holds fan-based events in the days leading up to major pay per views that bring tourists into town early.

The UFC is also prepared — likely within two years — to stage UFC Fight Nights featuring up and coming fighters at smaller venues.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on August 14, 2010 in Canadian Provincial Politics, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Broken Social Scene on the G20 protest

Independent powerhouse group Broken Social Scene has put together an interesting mash-up of a video put together by an annonymous fan, and their song "Meet me in the Basement." From the YouTube description:

This video was made as a response to the G20 Summit in Toronto June, 2010. The rest speaks for itself.
It was sent to us by a lover of our music who wants to remain anonymous.
We are very proud to share this mash-up with you.

- Broken Social Scene

Our commentary on the G20:

WS Poll: Should there be an inquiry into the police actions at G20?
It's complicated to be a law & order conservative
Randy Hillier vs. Tim Hudak on the G20
Randy Hillier: G20 crackdown reeks of tyranny
Tim Hudak swings and misses on G20
I was just harassed by Toronto Police
What happened in Toronto on Saturday?

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 17, 2010 in Crime, Current Affairs, G20 | Permalink | Comments (0)

English Defence League protest is turning violent

Edl

A protest in Dudley, England by the English Defence League has turned violent. It is difficult to know exactly what is going on, but updates are appearing here.

Those updates are disturbing:

"People lying in road after being run over, blood everywhere."

[...]

"There is anger that the West Midlands Police have obstructed all the negotiations to set up this demonstration, have caged the EDL attendees like animals, have stood by while they were attacked by Muslims, and joined in on the beatings. This is the police force who investigated the film crew from Channel 4 who made “Undercover Mosque”.

From the Dudley News:

Despite EDL leaders promising today's protest would be peaceful, a group of around a couple of hundred supporters tried to get down The Inhedge, as they tried to make their way into the town centre and the Unite Against Fascism counter protest.

Twenty people have been arrested for offences including possessing an offensive wapon and disorder, as security fencing was pulled down and a drainpipe was ripped off the wall of the nearby solicitors as police dogs were bought into to control the unruly crowds who were shouting abuse at officers and journalists.

Some EDL members also started a sitting protest, which was broken up by officers and police dogs.

Police medics were also called in to attend injured EDL members who were caught up in the violence, with two needing treatment for head injuries, and one for a leg wound.

h/t: Blazing Cat Fur

Developing...

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 17, 2010 in Crime, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (12)

WS on the census: Mark D. Hughes, "Always choose the voluntary, peaceful method"

Ed's note: We sent out a call to WS friends to send us thoughts on the census. Of course, we did not email everyone who might have wanted to share their thoughts with us. That led Mark D. Hughes, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Privacy Issues, to drop a comment under Professor Walter Block's submission with his own take on the census. We thought we'd pull his comment out and place it up on the main page. Here it is:

I am greatly troubled by the recent cacophony of vitriol and anger spewed out by the army of special interests who insist the census long form must be imposed by threat of state violence. "Tell us what we want to know or we will lock you away and take your money." How is that part of the Canadian ideal?

These folks (let's be real... supporters of hegemony and state coercion and enemies of peaceful cooperation) employ an argument something like "unless the long form is backed by the threat of state violence no one will give us the information we want." Hmm, why does that sound so familiar? Oh right, that's what they say about the need to torture prisoners in the war on terror... everyone knows a good threat will always get your victim to tell the truth. Right?

To argue that Statistics Canada can derive scientifically reliable data only with the threat of state sanctioned violence is a vile commentary on the degree to which some elitists worship at the alter of government information gathering.

More to the point, this whole mode of thought must necessarily reject an entire body of social science dedicated to the peaceful collection of data by way of voluntary surveys. Should we never again trust (within the scientific parameters set) an Ipsos Reid poll because it wasn't taken at the point of a gun? What utter nonsense!

As to the privacy issues regarding the long form, they are obvious to all but the most dull. In my estimation, however, privacy is not the primary catalyst for the public's dislike of this particular form of state snooping. Indeed, as has been pointed out by many who agitate for a mandatory census, most of the information collected on the long form is not that dissimilar from what the average Canadian is willing to discloses on Facebook.

What really bugs most people about the census process is that the state demands they divulge these intimate details about themselves and their households. And these demands are echoed by elitist special interests -- as diverse as academics, bureaucrats and business marketers -- who enjoy the benefits of this taxpayer-financed information landslide.

Finally, it is delightfully ironic that the vary argument advocates for a mandatory census use to marginalize/ridicule the notion that privacy is a relevant and sensible issue in relation to the census (i.e., the fact that so many Canadians voluntarily empty their guts on Facebook), lays bare the lie that scientifically reliable data, of the sort the long form is designed to capture, can only be derived by way of coercion... backed up by the state's monopoly on institutionalized violence.

If Canadians will voluntarily confess all to Facebook, surely they will answer a few questions from Statistics Canada if they are asked nicely. Indeed, as the Edmonton Journal's Lorne Gunter so wisely reminds us in his excellent June 11 article, "In a democracy, the bureaucrats and politicians have to ask us nicely to comply; they cannot demand we do except in very special circumstances."

I say, if you genuinely value freedom, always choose the voluntary peaceful method.

Mark D. Hughes is the Executive Director of the Vancouver Island-based "Institute for the Study of privacy Issues" (ISPI) and the editor of ISPI Clips, North America's leading news service for identity, surveillance and privacy issues.

More WS on the census: Karen Selick, Paul McKeever, Kalim Kassam, PUBLIUS, Hugh MacIntyre, Martin Masse, Terrence Watson, J.J. McCullough, Walter Block, and P.M. Jaworski.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 17, 2010 in Census, Current Affairs, Libertarianism | Permalink | Comments (1)

WS on the census: Karen Selick

The chief Tory spokesman against the mandatory long form census has been Industry Minister Tony Clement. Too bad Tony is so inconsistent in his views about defending freedom and privacy. When he was health minister, Tony spearheaded the drive to bring in Bill C-6, the so-called Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. That bill (which died on the order paper, but has recently been revived as Bill C-36) is chock-full of powers for bureaucrats to intrude upon Canadians’ privacy.

It will deploy a vast army of inspectors to poke their noses into every nook and cranny of Canadian businesses—including those operated in people’s homes—seeking phantom dangers. No-one has yet produced any evidence that the existing law (The Hazardous Products Act) has failed to ensure consumers’ safety. In fact, during hearings, the Health Canada bureaucrats promoting the bill admitted that the old law has done a good job. The new bill seems to be desired primarily by those same bureaucrats for the purpose of building their empires.

In addition to authorizing frequent intrusions into business premises (including homes), C-36 also authorizes the federal government to give confidential business information about Canadian businesses to foreign governments, without the consent of the business.

But back to the census. All the do-gooders who want to make it mandatory seem to cite reasons that are themselves illiberal. For instance, Bill Robson of the C.D. Howe Institute, writing recently in the Globe & Mail, cited the need for information in the fields of education and health as a reason. But the provision of education and health are not services that properly fall within the mandate of the state. Both should be privatized, and then -- poof! -- there goes the reason for needing the statistics.

It’s funny that the suppliers of other necessities to the poor—for instance, inexpensive clothing of the kind sold in WalMart or Giant Tiger stores—they don’t seem to need the census to figure out where to put their stores, what quantities of goods to order, or what price to offer them for.

Notably silent on the census issue has been the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). One would think this would be an issue about which they would have clear, strong freedom-oriented views. Alas, much of the decision-making in that organization is in the hands of committed leftists who no doubt support the idea of the state supplying education, health and more.

The sectors of the economy that keep devouring greater and greater shares of our resources, and producing worse and worse results are -- guess what? -- education and health care! And this is after they’ve had the supposed benefit of the long-form census for all these years!

Karen Selick is the litigation director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

Ed's note: More WS on the census: Paul McKeever, Kalim Kassam, PUBLIUS, Hugh MacIntyre, Martin Masse, Terrence Watson, J.J. McCullough, Walter Block, and P.M. Jaworski.

Posted by westernstandard on July 17, 2010 in Census, Current Affairs, Libertarianism | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday, July 16, 2010

WS on the census: Martin Masse "Census data feeds government intervention"

Martin Masse, publisher of the libertarian webzine Le Québécois Libre (whose banner ad we've been proudly hosting for going on two years now) and former advisor to Industry minister Maxime Bernier, responds to our request for opinions on the census with a longer and more thoughtful piece. (For shorter quip-like responses, check out Terrence Watson's, J.J. McCullough's, and Walter Block's responses).

Martin writes:

It’s interesting to note that the first general census in North America was conducted in New France in 1665 by the then-intendant of the colony, Jean Talon (who has a big street and a metro station named after him in Montreal). Talon had been sent to North America by Louis XIV’s finance minister, the famous Jean-Baptiste Colbert.

Colbert was the master bureaucrat of his time. He used his considerable powers to direct French economic development and to increase the prestige and revenue of the French state. His version of mercantilism, the interventionist doctrine popular in all European countries at the time, even bears his name: colbertisme.

Talon was of course a follower of colbertisme and he had all kinds of good ideas to “stimulate” the colony’s development, which then numbered about 3,000 inhabitants. But first, he had to know more precisely the state of the colony. How can you plan the economy and tell people what to do with their lives if you don’t first have a clear picture of the situation?

There is a page on Statistics Canada’s website devoted to the first statistician on the continent, which explains very well what censuses were for in Talon’s time, and are still for today, which is to help governments “manage” societies:

As Intendant of Justice, Police, and Finance, Talon's tasks were to stimulate the economic expansion of New France, increase the colony's self-sufficiency and bring order to its financial administration. He was a man of enthusiasm and vision, and although he ranked below the Governor, he soon became the real manager of the colony.

(...)

After collecting his statistics, Talon put them to work. He was responsible for everything from taxes to health, from bridge building to chimney sweeping, and his influence touched every facet of government, and of the day-to-day lives of colonists. He used knowledge gained from the census to develop the colony in many directions.

Clear enough?

Fast-forward 350 years, and who do we hear denouncing the Conservative government’s decision to scrap the mandatory long-form questionnaire of the census? All those whose job it is to plan and manage society’s development. There was only one such bureaucrat in the 1660s, but today there are hundreds of thousands of them in Canada, at all levels of government and even beyond, in all the parasitic “private” organizations and professional fields that depend on government to conduct their business.

You know who you’re dealing with when a unanimous chorus of protest emerges from organizations such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Canadian Economics Association, the Canadian Council of Social Development, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, francophone minority groups, women’s groups -- and the list goes on and on.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve heard that it would become extremely difficult for governments, municipalities and community groups to make decisions regarding education, health care, income inequalities, immigration, urban planning, and countless other fields, if the government goes ahead with its decision. A Liberal MP, Marlene Jennings, said that visible and linguistic minorities could suffer (that is, might get less government money) because the demographic studies that help government organizations and others hone in on the problems in certain regions rely on the results of long-form census surveys.

Despite the modern jargon, Talon would find the arguments entirely familiar. As a professor of Urban and Regional Economics reminded us in The Gazette, “enlightened policy decisions can only be taken if the government and its advisers have a good idea of what is happening in Canada.” Or hear this unnamed statistician asking in the Globe and Mail: “Should those who collect and spend our tax dollars on matters determined to be in the public interest not do so with the most informed statistical information possible?”

A census can only gather accurate information with the use of widespread coercion and intrusion in people’s private lives. Whether or not masses of citizens find it worthwhile to protest officially is not the point; this in itself is enough to oppose it from a libertarian perspective and the government was right to justify its decision on this basis. But everyone should also be aware that statistics are not just any neutral information that is useful to have.

As the great libertarian economist, Murray Rothbard, explained half a century ago:

Certainly, only by statistics, can the federal government make even a fitful attempt to plan, regulate, control, or reform various industries - or impose central planning and socialization on the entire economic system. If the government received no railroad statistics, for example, how in the world could it even start to regulate railroad rates, finances, and other affairs? How could the government impose price controls if it didn't even know what goods have been sold on the market, and what prices were prevailing? Statistics, to repeat, are the eyes and ears of the interventionists: of the intellectual reformer, the politician, and the government bureaucrat.

Without their eyes and ears -- or at any rate, with poorer eyesight and hearing -- the interventionists will find it more difficult to defend their work and they might lose some legitimacy. Which is why we should enthusiastically support this decision to scrap the mandatory long-form questionnaire.

Now, if only the government had been a little bit more coherent and scrapped the thing entirely instead of replacing it with a voluntary questionnaire sent to more households that will cost more, produce less reliable data and be a source of unnecessary controversy for years to come. Perhaps industry minister Tony Clement really believes his lines about the new data being as reliable and useful as the data collected the old way? That would not be surprising, coming from a government that has shown almost no inclination to cut spending, stop managing the economy and get out of our lives.

Posted by westernstandard on July 16, 2010 in Census, Current Affairs, Libertarianism | Permalink | Comments (3)

WS on the census: Terrence Watson

"My opinions about the census aren't very strong," writes WS editorial team member Terrence Watson. "I did find it amusing that Warren Kinsella has come out defending the plan to scrap the mandatory long form."

Here is what I think: Getting rid of the long form will indeed hamper social science research.

Is that bad? Not necessarily.

That research is often used by our benevolent overlords to justify additional government intrusion. Weaken the census, and you weaken the ability of the government to plan. More than that, you limit the ability of special interests groups to rely on that data when engaged in rent-seeking attempts.

Thus, maybe it's better to keep them in the dark. Perhaps Harper even knows this -- the long game, again? This isn't the kind of thing that's going to do damage right away, but only over time. Some of the lefties have figured this out, and they're really mad about it. And Kinsella sounds like a libertarian talking about it.

Here's the original post, Walter Block's response, and J.J. McCullough's.

Posted by westernstandard on July 16, 2010 in Census, Current Affairs, Libertarianism | Permalink | Comments (0)

WS on the census: J.J. McCullough

Continuing our series of posts on the census, here is Western Standard cartoonist (and Reader's Digest's top-five Canadian cartoonists to watch) J.J. McCullough's contribution:

A lot of people seem to be clinging to this misguided idea that census data only exists for the benefit of the government. On the contrary, I find thorough demographic statistics a vital tool that ordinary Canadians can use to hold their government to account.

When the government makes claims about jobs, or immigration, or bilingualism, or families, or multiculturalism, or any one of dozens of other topics, it's always nice to know that the Census website is only a click away to find out if the facts match the rhetoric.

In my more conspiratorial moments, I sometimes wonder if undermining the census is just a very convenient way for politicians to keep the citizenry in the dark about the realities of their own country.

See also the original post, and Walter Block's response.

Posted by westernstandard on July 16, 2010 in Census, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stelmach: In defense of oilsands

Alberta premier Ed Stelmach, writing in the Politico:

Alberta is — and continues to be — a reliable and responsible energy producer. We stand virtually alone in North America with respect to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial facilities.

Only here can you find mandatory greenhouse gas reporting requirements, legislation requiring mandatory greenhouse gas reductions and a price on carbon emissions. We reinvest the carbon revenue into clean energy research and technology development, which, one day, can be used all over the world -- including the United States.

Here's why he's busy defending the oilsands.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pamela Anderson's PETA advertisement too sexist for Montreal

Petanderson

Above is Pamela Anderson's proposed PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) advertisement. Anderson and PETA were hoping to get the blessing of Montreal's city council to host an event educating people about how terrible it is to eat meat. They didn't get that blessing.

It's feminists versus vegetarians, round 12 (PETA has been busy ignoring feminist concerns about the way they use women in their advertising for some time now).

Pamela Anderson was pretty upset with Montreal's decision:

"In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy, how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in a political protest," Anderson said.

"I didn't think that Canada would be so puritanical."

No one's banned Anderson from showing up and holding an event, she just doesn't have the city's blessing, said a municipal official.

Why no blessing? Says Montreal film commissioner Daniel Bissonnette:

"On one hand we're working for an organization where we're getting reminded on a daily basis that we should work in a sexism-free environment and that equality between men and women and the image of women is very important," Bissonnette said.

"On the other hand, it's not our intention at all to prevent people from going in the public domain and sharing their message."

In short, the advertisement is sexist, and that's not something city officials can get behind.

"We, as public officials representing a municipal government, cannot endorse this image of Ms. Anderson," wrote Josée Rochefort, an official in charge of issuing permits with the city's television and film office.

"It is not so much controversial as it goes against all principles public organizations are fighting for in the everlasting battle of equality between men and women."

While PETA has not yet responded, I'm pretty sure they'll lambaste Montreal's city council for failing to understand the possibly more important issue of equality between male human and non-human animals and female human and non-human animals.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 16, 2010 in Current Affairs, Humour | Permalink | Comments (11)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

G20 shenanigans: Forced vaccinations and no note-taking

CBC's Kady O'Malley tweets her surprise at a ruling by a Toronto justice of the peace that there will be no note-taking at bail hearing for G20 protesters. Susan Clairmont, of the Hamilton Spectator, expresses her outrage:

Everyone is allowed to take notes in court.

Period.

But the other day a Toronto justice of the peace decided to make up his own rules. He banned "note-taking" in his Etobicoke courtroom where bail hearings were being held for G20 protesters.

It was the latest -- and most ridiculous -- in a series of bizarre steps taken by court officials to build a big fat wall around the whole judicial process for accused demonstrators.

So much for an open and transparent court system. So much for accountability.

And speaking of Kady, did anyone else catch her account of what MP Maria Mourani of the Bloc claimed at committee on July 12th? Here's an excerpt from Kady's live-blog of the G8/G20 security inquiry at Public Safety (found at the 4:53 p.m. mark):

Huh. I think it's safe to say that Mourani's allegation that some detainees were vaccinated against their will managed to wake up the media table. For tuberculosis, apparently. Not heard that one before. Anyway, her party wants to see the committee begin its investigation this fall, and exhorts her colleagues to "shine a light on this."

Forced vaccinations? Against tuberculosis? This allegation is either crazy-talk, or outright crazy, if true. But I haven't seen or heard anyone repeat it, so I'm going to guess it's the former, until someone produces some evidence of the vaccinations.

In related news, we asked you on Tuesday whether or not you thought there should be an inquiry in the police actions during the G20.

With nearly 1,000 votes so far, the "No"s are leading three-to-one: 72% (672) say "No," with 28% (264) saying "Yes."

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 15, 2010 in Canadian Politics, Crime, Current Affairs, G20 | Permalink | Comments (15)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

CCF: Irvin Leroux gets to take his case to trial

The Canadian Constitution Foundation reported yesterday some good news, for a change, for Irvin Leroux, whose life is being destroyed by the Canada Revenue Agency.

The story of Leroux is barely believable, but true. Here's Moin Yahya's description of Leroux's situation:

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) asks to audit your account, because they think you owe $1 million in taxes. You comply. CRA needs receipts, which you provide. CRA loses them! Then CRA says "sorry, since we don't have your receipts, you owe us the money." You say "no way -- see you in court", which you go to and win nine years later.

In the meantime, CRA has put a tax-lien on your property, which takes priority over other creditors including the bank that has been financing your business. So the bank panics and wants its loan back, so you are forced to sell everything you own at reduced prices.

A few years later you win your tax case, and it turns out you owe nothing, but you have lost all your assets. It only seems fair that the government, especially this conservative government, would make up for its mistake -- right?

Apparently, the answer is NO.

We followed up on the story here, where I quoted an interview Leroux gave to CBC's The Current.

I promised some good news in this case, and here it is, in the form of a press release from the Canadian Constitution Foundation (below the fold):

Irvin Leroux, the taxpayer who suffered financial ruin following a nightmare audit by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), has won the right to continue his lawsuit against the CRA in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

In 1996, Mr. Leroux owned and operated an RV park, campground and small residential subdivision. Then CRA came to audit his books. The agency lost or accidentally shredded most of his business records, then assessed him for almost $1 million in taxes, penalties and interest which the missing records would have shown he didn’t owe.

After a decade of fighting in tax court, Mr. Leroux was vindicated: the government owed him a refund, not the other way around. But by that time, the CRA’s attempts to collect the non-existent tax debt had created financial havoc for Mr. Leroux, leaving him virtually destitute and in hock to creditors.

In 2007, Mr. Leroux launched a lawsuit for damages against the CRA.

During a 3-day motion in March, 2010 the CRA asked the court to dismiss Mr. Leroux’s lawsuit as “frivolous and vexatious”, without even letting the case proceed to trial. The decision of Justice B.M. Preston, released July 7, 2010, held that the facts alleged in the pleadings, if proven true at trial, would be “sufficient to support those claims” for “negligence and breach of statutory duty”. Accordingly, the bulk of the motion relief requested by the CRA was denied, and the CRA was ordered to pay Mr. Leroux’s costs of the motion.

Mr. Leroux has been assisted in the litigation by the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF). Karen Selick, the CCF’s Litigation Director, said: “This decision clears the way for Mr. Leroux to proceed to trial and demonstrate to the CRA that it cannot run roughshod over taxpayers with impunity.”

The Canadian Constitution Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through education, communication and litigation. It is funded by the voluntary donations of concerned citizens across the country.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 8, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4)

A soldier's comment on the police actions at G20

Rob Breakenridge tweeted a link to Justin Beach's blog, who took out a comment from the Torontoist by a self-described Canadian soldier abroad.

To repeat the warning from Beach: We can't be sure whether or not this person is actually a soldier, or just a really good writer. But, either way, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter whether or not he's a soldier, since the upshot of his comment -- the argument about how a police officer ought to behave once they don their uniform and how the police ought to have reacted -- rings true to my ears.

(But, assuming for the moment that this is a comment from a bona fide military man, how does the law & order conservative deal with this complication? Do we side with the police, as Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak has done, or do we side with an argument from a military man?)

So here's the comment, in its entirety, from "Eric J," below the fold (with my highlighting):

As a serving member of the Canadian Forces and a combat veteran, I can say with absolute clarity and conviction that i am disgusted by the actions of the supposed "other half" of our nations security, the civilian shield to the army's sword. I managed to fight and win battles while vastly outnumbered, against a heavily armed, mobile, guerilla force with as few as 10 fellow Canadians. 10 Canadian taxpayer funded and trained, government employees fighting and dying to prevent the lawlessness and injustice the so-called Black Bloc seems only too willing to promote. 10 Canadian ambassadors (because that is what you are when your wear and salute your nations flag) that knew their jobs and acted as consummate, trained professionals in all things, which incidentley is why i am alive to type this. The enemy we fought was entrenched within a civilian population and knew only too well the problems that could be created by putting innocent Afghans in the center of the conflict. So as is our duty and our job we let them bait us and let them crow and then when we had a shot we took it WITH NO CIVILIAN CASUALTIES. How could I know? Because we were the medical center for the region and we visited the villages regularly.

Knowing when to apply force and how to apply it can be a very simple thing when you assign value to the thing you are leveraging that force against. Am I prepared to kill the human being who is placing the IED or recoiless rifle that will kill three of my brothers? 3 of my fellow Canadians who have answered the call to defend what we so often take for granted half a world away? Without pause yes, and I will for the rest of my life, I took an oath that does not end with a contract.

When you put that uniform on you are no longer John Smith of Toronto. You are a member of the Canadian Forces, just as you are a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer, or an Ontario Provincial Police Officer. A government employee who's mandate and training is to PROTECT the public. Not to protect themselves from threats within the public. It is their job as the civilian arm of our nations security to be the blue line between those that would see our way of life burnt to it's end and the Canadians who see more than a simple flag.

Instead they formed a black wall and responded to WORDS with unrelenting, armed and often random VIOLENCE.

I don't care if Osama Bin Laden himself is hiding on Queen Street like Waldo... you don't just drop an airstrike on the village.

You PARTICULARLY don't do it after the entire village sang Oh Canada in fear.

I understand the effect of an unsuspecting ambush tactics to confuse and demoralize... but when the first three ranks of 'protestors' are waving peace signs standing outside the gap wearing American Apparel and drinking starbucks... I might tailor my tactics accordingly.

People have said that they 'understand' why Police might have been on edge due to the events of the day before...

Bullshit.

I understand that i watched friends die and then the next day went out and did my job with the professionalism expected of someone who claims to serve his country and as in holland i gave chocolate to children while the engineers rebuilt.

When you back people into a corner... they will fight and sell their lives dearly to escape.

The 'kettle' is a useful tactic to isolate 'riot ringleaders' but with even minor coordination it can simply be turned into a turnstyle type processing operation as opposed to a way to jack up arrest counts to justify budgets and manpower.

Too little too late from the Police especially after the complete lack of presence as the city they are paid to protect, burned the day before.

A number of extremely reputable journalists and civilian truth mongers have been given unprecedented ability to expose the absolute incompetence of both the police leadership and of the individual line trooper.

This is as sure a black stain on their official colors as it was a death knell to the Canadian Airborne after one of their members killed a Somali boy. I would hang my head in shame if i affected any part of Sunday's riot operation, willing or not.

I have a relative who was caught up in the crowd. Just a student who is young and wants to take inspired photos, and does it damn well. He was detained (not arrested) But I have seen his footage and i am disgusted.

I did not put my life on the line and watch my best friends take their last breath to come home and watch the largest gathering of law enforcement this country has ever seen... cowed to the point inaction as the city and its citizens endure the wanton destruction to their homes and business, only to have it answered by a heavy handed and indiscriminant hammer blow against quite possibly the very same people they so utterly failed to help previously.

I understand that to put a riot line in front of the black block may have caused injuries and violence.

Well... they asked for it. Says so right on their sign.

Guess what else. That's why you took the oath of service to your country. If you don't want to get injured on the job... be a yoga instructor.

Excuses are quite common apparently everyone has one. I would advise anyone reading this to write their local MP and ask what your government is doing to police it's members and policies that have utterly failed in their duty to this country.

I was in the city all weekend and if i had a dollar for every group of 6 police officers i saw sitting on corners shooting the shit... I would probably have enough to hire a ten man infantry section for the weekend to lead the police through some drills, of how to serve the nation they are sworn to defend.

This should not be taken as a sweeping assault on the police as i even have a few relatives and many friends among their ranks. But just as I would not stand for injustice within my own house... I will not stand for it in theirs.

I have met countless officers who uphold our laws with dignity and professionalism. I would gladly give my life for anyone of them.

What will not stand is when under the guise of 'security' police are given sweeping powers with no chance of reciprocity, the need to explain themselves or chance to defend against bullying tactics employed on a peaceful gathering of my country's citizens.

I don't give a flying squirrel if they were threatening, or there were reports of weapons. You have full body armour and shields. Suck it up. Besides, you should be happy. Bricks move a lot slower than bullets.

I support our law enforcement as i support our troops. But my support is not a blank cheque to be held cheaply against the values and rights you trample as surely as you stepped on our flag. You will find me a tenacious opponent and one now who wants to know just how that cheque i did write you was used... and i think after saturdays impotence and sundays ignorance someone has to pay the piper...

and this time, it won't be me.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 8, 2010 in Crime, Current Affairs, Freedom of expression, G20, Military | Permalink | Comments (30)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

So a seal walks into a club…

Hmm... the star of one of my guilty pleasures is creating a hubbub about the seal hunt. Barf. Fortunately someone isn't so naive:

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea called Anderson's remarks disappointing and suggested she spend time with East Coast sealers to understand the hunt's importance. "Hollywood celebrities are not going to dictate policy in Canada because we make decisions that are based on science and consultation with Canadians," Shea said in a telephone interview.


One of the biggest arguments I hear from hippies that vehemently oppose the seal hunt is that they are cute and that they kill baby seals. In the world of make-believe, even facts don't take the hysteria out of their argument.

Anderson said baby seals are bludgeoned in front of their mothers before they have their first swim, but Shea said the killing of baby seals hasn't been practised in Canada since the early '80s. Activists focus on it because it tugs at the heart strings, Shea said.


I love you Pam, but you're not exactly the sharpest Crayon in the box. Apparently Perez Hilton is into the craze as well:

Perezsealus300__oPt

[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]

Posted by Dane Richard on October 24, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (36)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The existential drama of Canadian communists

This post could also have been called, "How Canadian communists must come to terms with history", or even, "Why I have to re-post more pursuant to Gerry Nicholls' post". According to an article in Epoch Times, plans to construct a monument in Ottawa to honor the victims of communism are being obstructed by due regard to the feelings of Canadian communists. 

The ever-industrious National Capital Commission (NCC) wants to change the name of the monument from  “Memorial to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism” to something that does not demean or tarnish the self-esteem of card-carrying communists in Canada. Initially, the monument was going to be called the "Memorial to the Victims of Communism", but NCC board members found it to be polarizing, hence the addition of the term "totalitarian". Now it seems no one is completely certain about the monument, the emotional states of Canadian communists, the value of historical memory, or whether communism really deserves the bad rap it seems to have earned over the past few decades.

There are exceptions to this Canadian confusion over communism. Tribute to Liberty, one of the groups trying to get this monument built, probably never anticipated so much controversy and stalling in the naming phase. After all, one would be hard-pressed to find honest individuals arguing against naming a monument to the victims of Nazism or fascism qualifying this description with the obvious, namely, "totalitarian". 

Of course governments ruled under the ideologies of Nazism, fascism, or communism are totalitarian-- in fact, "totalitarianism" (as opposed to freedom, rule of law, or human rights) might just be their original contribution to political history. Name one communist country in the history of the world which has not been totalitarian. In fact, adding the word "totalitarian" to qualify communism is not just ignorant--it is blatantly false and dangerous. The refusal of communists and their defenders to admit the nature of communism should not prevent the public square from being the place where a spade is called a spade and the victims of communism are duly honored.

Posted by Alina on September 24, 2009 in Canadian Conservative Politics, Canadian Politics, Current Affairs, Economic freedom, Freedom of expression | Permalink | Comments (35)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Smoke up, Johnny! Signed, the government.

Glenn Beck defines Progressives in his latest book as "individuals who seek to redefine, reshape, and rebuild America into a country where individual liberties and personal property mean nothing if they conflict with the plans and goals of the state", and Progressivism as "the idea that your money and property are only yours if the State doesn't determine that there is a higher or better use for it". I found these descriptions to be pretty accurate, and it immediately got me thinking of a certain recent progressive policy passed by the NDP shortly after they got into office in Nova Scotia. There are a few industries which are often gouged by the government in terms of taxes: gasoline, liquor, and cigarettes.

This time, it was cigarettes that took the hit; prices went up $1.25 a pack, meaning a pack of Player's Rich for example (a popular brand) costs smokers almost $15 a pack. Does this seem a little high to anybody else? Below the border in Indiana or Texas for example, the same pack is just slightly over $6.50 (Canadian dollars), and in New Hampshire it's about a dollar less on average. New York City is one of the closest price wise to Canada, with packs topping at $10 to $11, Canadian dollars. The price hike in Nova Scotia was enacted by the government in the form of sales tax, and the increased tax on smokes will generate $21 million in extra revenues for the province. The problem is that illegal tobacco sales, which is becoming more and more popular with every price increase, will eat up that revenue before it even gets to the countless programs it's supposed to help fund. My biggest problem however is the fact that like it not, the government is basically saying "smoke up, Johnny! We need that money for keeping the failed ER's open, and we all know you'll need those eventually."

It appears the NDP do not understand the black market in the least. Aside from it being illegal, the illegal tobacco industry has absolutely no regulations or rules. So when the government jacks up the taxes forced onto legal retailers, more people are going to be choosing illegal tobacco over legal tobacco. It may be of less quality, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper. The thing is, smokers are addicted to nicotine, not the fancy brands, and nicotine addiction can get quite ridiculous if you have a lot more cigarettes to smoke. Not everyone who switches does this, but for those that really enjoy smoking, it makes sense. The point is, not only does tax hikes on addictive products create more activity in the black market, but is also cancels out those that cut back or quit because of the price increase.

Is it just me, or does the official government report on the cost of tobacco in Nova Scotia seem cynical? Below is a snippet of the report I found:

1. "Because current measures of progress based on economic growth statistics make no distinction between economic activities that create benefit and those that cause harm, spending generated by smoking, crime, pollution, car accidents and other liabilities are conventionally counted as signs of economic growth, prosperity, and well being."

The main two reasons for tax hikes on things like cigarettes are government revenue, and trying to appear as "progressive" and "with the times" by declaring that the government has control over what we put in our body. If not total control, taxation is the second best bet. Interestingly enough, the tax increase policy passed by the NDP was originally in the Progressive Conservative Party's proposed budget (which promptly got shot down, no less). It's never a good sign when parties vote down a budget they publicly hate yet continue with half of the policies proposed anyway.

Are they just lazy? More importantly, is the demise of the provincial PC government due in part to the progressive tilt of the one provincial conservative party in Nova Scotia? Sure, the word "Progressive" is in the name, but quite obviously the past supporters of the PC Party don't care for actually acting on that word and creating policies based off it. The PC Party of Nova Scotia must go back to the common sense days of the Canadian conservative movement that was actually popular during the 90's, and as Glenn Beck would advise if he were Canadian. More importantly, the latest PC Party of Ontario nomination brought the back-to-basics, common sense idea to the table with great success; an interesting election with Tim Hudak as the winner. This was the first time I was fired up about a provincial election, and it wasn't even my province!

[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]

Posted by Dane Richard on September 1, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (15)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Flooding Bail-Outs

This past summer was a bad year for flooding in Manitoba, once of the worst since the big flood of 1997; Manitobans that were impacted by this years flood will receive $40 million in aid.

In past posts I have criticized this move, saying that it is up to private homeowners to have the proper insurance or face the risk of living and/or building in an area known to have a history of flooding, that taxpayers shouldn't be bailing out the poor decisions of other people.

But you know, I've been re-thinking this.

If your property is damaged, you deserve restitution from the party that caused the damage.

The river that caused the flooding is "public property", which really means its government property. So if government property destroys your home, whether it is their hydro pole falling on your car or their river flooding your land, then the government should pay restitution. If it was a private corporations' property that caused the damage, they of course would be held liable, as so should the government.

Too bad though that the government gets their cash from people not involved in the property damage, taxpayers.

The honest thing would be for the compensation to come straight out of politicians salaries, since it is their property that caused the damage.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on July 8, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (12)

Friday, July 03, 2009

What's Palin planning?

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has announced she'll be leaving the post. What's next for the most-intriguing Mrs. Palin?

Posted by Terry O'Neill on July 3, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (10)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Addiction is not a disease

The general consensus in our society is that addiction is a disease. The general consensus also is that there is no such thing as a miracle.

How, then, can "victims" of alcoholism or drug addiction cure themselves, by themselves, without any traditional or scientific medical intervention? If not by a miracle, then by what?

It seems that one of the two above-noted consensus beliefs is incorrect. Either addiction is not a disease. Or miracles do, indeed, take place. Or, perhaps, both are wrong.

Read more of my thoughts here, in my latest Tri-City News column.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on July 2, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (37)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lemieux: The real systemic danger is Barack Obama

This week, Pierre Lemieux takes on President Barack Obama's plan to bring "systemic regulatory reform" to the U.S. financial system. Obama proposes

"a set of reforms that require regulators to look not only at the safety and soundness of individual institutions, but also -- for the first time -- at the stability of the financial system as a whole."

Drawing on history and economics, Lemieux argues that the real blame for American's shaky financial situation lies in the hands of the politicians and bureaucrats who now claim to be able to salvage it. Not only that, but instead of bringing "stability" to the U.S. financial system, these new government reforms are likely to make things worse.

Why is the government so inept at managing the economy? In an interesting passage, Lemieux endeavors to answer this question.

Why is government intervention so expectedly inefficient in promoting economic growth and stability? The short answer is two-pronged. First, politicians and bureaucrats don’t have the incentives to fix, or not to break, the economy. Second, there is an insuperable information problem, which Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek’s work put in clear focus: the state (the whole apparatus of government) simply does not have the information necessary to intervene efficiently. The business cycle is a complex phenomenon on which generations of brilliant economists still don’t agree. How could we expect that campaigning politicians and bureaucrats in committees will resolve the problem?

What I found interesting about this passage is how Lemieux brings to bear both public choice economics (in his observation that politicians don't have the right incentives to fix the economy) and Hayek's work on the role of dispersed knowledge. Both these issues make it highly unlikely that the government's attempt to impose "systemic regulatory reform" will succeed.

In some sense, President Obama is like a blind man suddenly put behind the wheel of a speeding car. There are several things he could do to "fix" the economy, and almost all of them would be bad. That's if you assume that he's well-meaning, with the right incentives, but stymied by Hayek's knowledge problem.

If Obama's incentives are more like the incentives of other politicians, the problem is even worse. His attempts to "fix" the economy will either fail, or succeed only in lining the pockets of a few special interest groups.

For example: who do you think is going to benefit most from the billions Obama plans to invest in high-speed rail? According to Cato's Randal O'Toole, the price tag works out to about $1,000/taxpayer, at a minimum, but California is likely to get most of the money. Perhaps that's a nice reward for a big blue state.

As Lemieux consistently points out, this pattern is not an aberration, but the rule. Systemic regulatory reform to the financial system will be no exception. We can expect the regulations to either make the situation worse, or to be tailored in such a way that special interest groups, and not taxpayers, benefit from them.

Read all of Pierre Lemieux's column here.

Posted by Terrence Watson on June 24, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Feminism meets judicial activism

Written in February and published in May by Catholic Insight, this feature article of mine has finally gone on line. I believe that my insights into the outcome of B.C.'s polygamy case still stand up quite well.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on June 4, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

CMHR: Stacked with feminists, 'biased and duplicitous'

A real human-rights museum would have a wing for Mark Steyne and Ezra Levant. Don't expect to see anything of the sort in Winnipeg, though, according to REAL Women. Here's the so-con group's press release on the matter:

The Canadian Museum For Human Rights Is A Mess

Ottawa, June 4, 2009

 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, on which construction began last April, is a mess. This is due to the fact that Museum officials have established a biased and duplicitous Content Advisory Committee to determine which displays will be installed in the museum. 

The problem with this Content Advisory Committee, whose decisions are to be approved (rubber stamped) by the Board of Trustees, is that it is supposed to be comprised of “human rights experts, scholars and specialists.”  In fact, this 16-member committee is comprised of 11 feminist activists and their supporters. 

Museum officials must think Canadians are either dupes or fools to believe that the only human rights specialists available in this country are radical feminists.  This committee is an insult to the Canadian taxpayer who has already paid out 100 million dollars for the construction of the museum and who will now be laying out 22 million dollars annually to maintain it.

For what purpose was the museum’s Content Advisory Committee loaded with feminist activists?  Clearly it is to serve as a propaganda device to promote and affirm feminist ideology and a left-wing interpretation of human rights as “progress” in Canada.  This “progress” will include such controversial concepts as abortion on demand, homosexual rights, pay equity, affirmative action and the denigration of men, whom feminists regard as dangerous because of the so-called “patriarchal society.”  If the Committee has its way, feminist “human rights” breakthroughs in family law in regard to custody and access, and sexual assault, pursuant to which men have been severely undermined, will also be proudly included in the museum’s displays.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be portraying the stories of Canadians, filtered through a feminist lens.  As such, it will serve as a powerful tool to champion the left-wing interpretation of human rights. Such a museum will scarcely be credible to most Canadians and not worth the taxpayers’ hard earned money. -30-

Posted by Terry O'Neill on June 4, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Debating & delving into costs of divorce

The country watches silently as divorce continues to take its devastating toll on children. A recent study out of Alberta shows one dramatic, negative impact and provides the jumping off point for my most recent Face to Face debate in the Tri-City News. Here's my take, and here's that of my temporary sparring partner, Jim Nelson.

Meantime, the Institute of Family and Marriage Canada is getting ready to release an ambitious report on June 3, adding up the financial costs to the public of divorce.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 29, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Separating signal from noise

My column in today's National Post, about Preston Manning's endorsement of the low-key, service-oriented, compassionate pro-life approach adopted by Signal Hill, has been generally well received by pro-life activists across the country. But I'm also hearing that some view it as a criticism of their efforts.

Personally, I'm a big-tent kind of a guy, and I wouldn't want to put all pro-life groups' eggs in one basket. Nevertheless, I'm a big supporter of Signal Hill's fresh, educational, non-confrontational approach, and I think it's got real merit.

I'd be interested in knowing what Shotgun readers -- especially those who consider themselves to be pro-life -- think is the best strategy to thwart abortion.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 21, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (11)

Friday, May 15, 2009

We shall overcome bad laws, misguided opponents

It's been a thrilling week to be a pro-life advocate.

The week started with Monday's annual Focus on Life Dinner in Vancouver, which attracted more than 600 supporters who donated well into the six figures to help fund the annual media campaign sponsored by Signal Hill. Equally exciting was the fact that keynote speaker, Preston Manning, endorsed Signal Hill's new, human-rights- compassion- and education-oriented approach. Watch for an op-ed piece by me on Manning and Signal Hill in an upcoming National Post.

On Thursday, the national March for Life in Ottawa was a big success, drawing several thousand supporters. Smaller rallies took place across Canada, including one in Victoria, which drew about 1,000 marchers. I had the honour of acting as MC of the rally that wrapped up the walk. These are the words I used to open the rally:

“I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.”

The quotation I just read was written a century and a half ago by Abraham Lincoln. Today, slavery is no more. But we have a new and pernicious evil that must be challenged. Abortion. Today, in echo of  Lincoln, I proclaim, “I am naturally anti-abortion. If abortion is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel.”

Let Lincoln’s words and actions inspire us as we continue to march and to rally, to act and to pray to create a world free of abortion.

Finally, today's big news is from south of the border, where Gallup reports that, for the first time since its polling began in 1995, the majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life.

Message to pro-abortionists, pro-choicers, or whatever you want to call yourselves. The fetus is a human being. It deserves to be treated as a legal person. It has rights. It should be protected.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 15, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (86)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Craigslist moves to block prostitutes from posting ads

Craigslist, a popular online classified ads site, announced yesterday that it will be removing the "erotic services" section for U.S. cities and replacing it with a new section that will be moderated by their staff:




As of today for all US craigslist sites, postings to the "erotic services" category will no longer be accepted, and in 7 days the category will be removed.

Also effective today for all US sites, a new category entitled "adult services" will be opened for postings by legal adult service providers. Each posting to this new category will be manually reviewed before appearing on the site, to ensure compliance with craigslist posting guidelines and terms of use. New postings will cost $10, but once approved, will be eligible for reposting at $5.

The section in question was previously used primarily by sex trade workers who were able to advertise their services on the free classifieds site. The popular website has come under fire from numerous state attorney generals recently after a masseuse who advertised on the site was killed in Boston. Despite a few cases of violence that can be linked to online classified ads, craigslist argues the service is still safer than print ads:

Interesting Wikipedia entry, Lonely Heart Killers, lists high-profile cases of killers using print classified ads.…

When critics rush to tar craigslist as especially dangerous, it's important to put things in perspective. craigslist users have posted more than 1.15 BILLION classified ads to date, easily 1000x the combined total ever posted to the print publications involved in all of these "print ad murders".

Regardless of whether or not advertising online is safer than advertising in a newspaper, either option is almost certainly safer than working on the streets. Advertising online allows sex workers to screen potential clients and work in a safe and comfortable environment. It likely also helps them get away from the pimps and organized crime elements that control the sex trade in many cities. The goal of public policy should be to ensure the safety of sex workers by allowing them to work indoors, rather than forcing them onto the streets. Aside from issues of safety, many people would be happy if fewer hookers were hanging around on street corners.

So what is preventing prostitutes from working inside? There are numerous situations in which they do work indoors:

Many of the people on the streets have drug problems, which make them undesirable for massage parlors and escort services. Starting their own business requires that they either have a descent place to live or a car to get around town and capital to advertise their services. Homeless and drug addicted prostitutes often don't have access to these things. It is also easier for many of these women to stand on the corner, rather than take the time and money to create websites, put ads in newspapers, and take the steps necessary to successfully advertise a home-based business. I'm sure there's also an incentive for pimps to keep hookers on the streets, where it's easier to monitor and control them. Craigslist's appeal was that it was free (for a time), quick, easy, and generated large amounts of traffic. It did not require any knowledge of web design or upfront capital to get started.

As with other issues, such as drugs, the big problems with prostitution include organized crime, physical safety, and diseases. Many of these problems would disappear if the services were legal and run by legitimate businesses instead of organized crime. Luckily, for those who do use the Internet for prostitution, there are many sites that allow escorts to create their own websites and advertise their services. Likewise, the Georgia Straight is reporting that craigslist has yet to change its policy on the erotic services sections for Canadian cities. While the changes at craigslist in the U.S. will by no means end the practise of advertising prostitution on the Internet, it will make it that much harder and likely encourage some people to go back onto the streets.

(Photo courtesy Brian Boros licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License)

Posted by Jesse Kline on May 14, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (13)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Operating on a non-person

"Toronto doctors perform heart surgery on fetus." A wonderful accomplishment. A medical marvel. But, remember: in this crazy, mixed-up country of ours, that fetus was not a legal person. Accordingly, at any time between the life-saving operation and the due date, the mother could have changed her mind about carrying the child and aborted it. Completely legal. Mother's choice. End of story.

Crazy, mixed-up country....

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 8, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (66)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A brief history of pandemic influenza

Further to our previous discussion on swine flu, this article explores the history of pandemic influenza.

--

A pandemic is a massive viral outbreak, which affects large amounts of people over a wide geographic area. People usually have little or no immunity to pandemic outbreaks, which results in high death rates. Most pandemics have been caused by a new strain of the influenza virus, which is often the result of an animal virus mutating into one that can infect humans. We are exposed to influenza viruses many times throughout our lives and we have built up an immunity to lots of them. We have not built up an immunity, however, to new strains that jump from animals to humans. This type of situation creates the potential for an outbreak that could kill many people. The process of a virus jumping from animals to humans usually occurs when an avian virus infects swine. Since pigs and humans have similar DNA, the virus has the potential to mix with other pig viruses and mutate into something that can infect humans as well. The current swine flu outbreak is an example of this process.

Pandemics have been occurring throughout history. It is generally accepted that pandemics will occur three to four times every century, although scientists don't seem to know why this pattern exists. A brief history of pandemic influenza can be seen in the timeline below.

Timeline

The first significant pandemic dates all the way back to the Peloponnesian War in 430 BC. In the last century, there were three pandemics: the Spanish Flu of 1918 and 1919, the Asian Flu of 1957 and 1958, and the Hong Kong Flu, which occurred between 1968 and 1969. The most severe pandemic was the Spanish Flu, which struck at the end of World War I and was estimated to have killed between 20 and 40 million people worldwide and between 30 and 50 thousand people in Canada. This pandemic was caused by a strain of influenza known as H1N1, which had an attack rate of 25 per cent. While most of the time influenza is especially harmful to the elderly, this outbreak was characterized by a high death rate among younger people. The Canadian government's response to the Spanish Flu was practically nonexistent. According to author Eileen Pettigrew:

Parliament was not sitting during the epidemic, and to my disappointment I found almost nothing relevant in the papers of Prime Minister Robert Laird Borden. He had gone to Britain in November 1918 to head the Canadian delegation to the Peace Conference, and when he returned to Canada the following May, the worst was over in southern Canada.

The other two pandemics caused significantly less damage than the Spanish Flu. The Asian Flu, or the H2N2 strain, had an attack rate of approximately 25 to 30 per cent. It infected between 10 and 35 per cent of the world's population and killed approximately 1 million people. The Hong Kong Flu was the lightest of the three pandemics. This strain was known as H3N3 and was responsible for killing about 700,000 people worldwide. This virus had an attack rate of between 20 and 35 per cent.

Posted by Jesse Kline on May 5, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Did the Western Standard warn of a pandemic?

Life in Mexico City is beginning to return to normal as the government lifts restrictions and fears over swine flu begin to subside. We are not out of the woods yet, however, as the virus still has the potential to become a serious issue, either now or in the fall when the flu could make a comeback. Talk of potential pandemics has become increasingly familiar to Canadians after the 2003 SARS crisis and the 2005 Avian Flu scare. Back in 2005, the Western Standard took an in-depth look at pandemic preparedness and argued that another pandemic was inevitable and that Canadian authorities were not doing enough to prepare for the eventuality:

The U.S. already has already ordered a stockpile of two million doses of the H5N1 vaccine, with production beginning once testing of the vaccine is complete. Canada is going a different route. Butler-Jones argues that, under international agreements, any vaccine formula the U.S. might produce would be shared with other countries, and so Canada has currently chosen to focus its efforts on other areas, such as early global detection. "Should Canada do the 'me too,' or should Canada continue to do what we're doing in terms of adding to the body of knowledge?" he asks. "Should we look at finding another piece that isn't being done elsewhere, to ensure that's added to the body of knowledge? Those are the conversations that are going on right now" in Canada. But the reason, says Butler-Jones, that the Canadian government is not stockpiling vaccines is because it chooses not to. "The most efficient way of doing the research is to have different places doing different pieces, and then sharing the information," he says.…

While experts may quibble over the number of fatalities, all agree on one thing: it's not a question of if such a deadly pandemic will strike the world, but when. There is almost universal consensus among influenza experts, says Cheng, that pandemics are cyclical. "Typically, they occur every 30 years," she says. "In the twentieth century, there were three: in 1918 [which killed 40-million people globally and 50,000 in Canada], 1957 and 1968. There is no reason to believe that there will not be another influenza pandemic in this century."

There is little doubt that the world will eventually be faced with another influenza pandemic, as they have occurred throughout history. The big question is whether or not we are sufficiently prepared. The Canadian government had a very limited response to previous pandemics, but our level of preparedness has increased significantly since the Hong Kong Flu hit in 1968. The government began working on a plan for pandemic influenza back in 1983 and got serious about its planning efforts in the 1990s.

The Western Standard raised issues about Canada's pandemic preparations in 2005, but until we are faced with an actual pandemic, it's hard to tell how the current plan will hold up. A unique aspect about the Canadian situation is that each province has it's own pandemic plan and any analysis of the Canadian response would not be complete without taking a look at these plans as well. This could cause a situation where some provinces are more prepared than others to handle a large-scale outbreak.

There were also questions raised in 2005 as to whether or not Canada should be stockpiling Avian Flu vaccines. It seems clear that Canada did the right thing by not wasting taxpayer dollars on a vaccine for a virus that has yet to cause any significant damage. Our plan to ensure we have the capacity to produce a vaccine when a pandemic does strike would seem like a sensible solution. An Avian Flu vaccine would do little to stop the spread of swine flu, which scientists are currently working on a vaccine for. Due to the nature of such viruses, however, it is never clear how long a vaccine will be effective before the virus mutates.

Governments around the world have been on high alert during the current outbreak so as not to be caught off guard if the situation becomes more critical. I see little reason to worry about the preparedness of developed nations, such as Canada. A bigger concern is causing mass hysteria about a virus that has, so far, been quite mild.

Posted by Jesse Kline on May 5, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Racing to conclusions

Should police keep track of the race of the people they arrest? It's a tricky question, and is one that my debating opponent Mary Woo Sims and I tackle in this week's Face to Face feature in the Tri-City News.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 4, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Disabled by booze

If you're paralyzed, you can't enrol in a three-month program to help you walk again. If you're blind, you can't visit a therapist for several weeks and emerge with your sight restored. But if you're an addict or alcoholic, you most definitely can get treatment and emerge clean and sober.

This is why alcoholism and other drug addictions should not be considered permanent disabilities. And this, in turn, is why this Ontario court ruling is patently ridiculous.

Of course, it's all the fault of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Another chapter for Ezra's book, perhaps.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on April 24, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miss California says God was testing her faith when Perez Hilton asked her about gay marriage

Article-1172123-048CCD22000005DC-578_233x644

When Carrie Prejean, Miss California, was asked about gay marriage by celebrity gossip idiot and man-child Perez Hilton, she responded that while it's great that there is diversity and plenty of options in the U.S., she believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Perez Hilton took offense -- even though Prejean insisted, during her answer, that she doesn't mean to offend anybody -- calling her a "dumb bitch." Which is strange, since I think Perez Hilton angered everybody by even asking the question of someone who was trying to become the equivalent of Miss pretty-girl-who-is-eloquent U.S.A.

Hilton explained that Miss U.S.A. is expected to "represent everybody" and that, in her answer, she failed to represent millions of gays and lesbians. Escaping his cluttered, celebrity-obsessed, and childish mind is the fact that, in her answer, she managed to represent millions and millions of American Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other people of faith, as well as social conservatives more generally, who agree with her that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

He might as well have asked her other totally irrelevant questions, like her stance on the War in Iraq, and her personal feelings on the appropriate rate for the capital gains tax, and whether she believes in tighter dairy regulations and higher farm subsidies. Each of these questions are entirely beside the point for a beauty queen.

But he did ask the question, and now the question, the answer, and the fallout is the subject of much news. For example, Fox News is reporting that Carrie thought the question was a way for God to test her faith:

'I have no regrets,' Carrie Prejean, 21, said today about the question that may have cost her the Miss USA crown and led to her being called a 'dumb bitch'.

'By having to answer that question in front of a national audience, God was testing my character and faith. I'm glad I stayed true to myself,' she told Fox News today.

Really, Perez Hilton should have asked her what kind of make-up she likes to wear, or how she manages to walk around in high heels all day. Or, if he wants to get really deep, he can ask her why American children can't spot certain countries on a map.

Here's video of the big question that started the foofaraw:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on April 21, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (59)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Fraser Institute goes down market

The Fraser Institute has thrown up (a deliberate choice of words by me) a short video onto YouTube asserting that the climate is always changing and that rational people should question the hype surrounding global warming. Period. That's esssentially the entire message in a video that seems designed to resonate with people for whom a full twitter message constitutes in-depth reading. To me, though, the two-minute video seems garish, vulgar and shallow--not the sort of thing at all that I'd come to expect from the Vancouver-based free-market think tank

Posted by Terry O'Neill on April 16, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A valid question

A question from a not-really-religious pro-lifer in the UK: Why don’t atheists oppose abortion?

Denying the humanity of a 20-week foetus is as unscientific and irrational as denying the beef on your plate is a cow because you can’t hear it moo.

Now many atheists/agnostics do oppose abortion on scientific grounds…but they aren’t very vocal, that’s for sure. Too busy with bus ads, convincing people that there probably is no God? Or perhaps they can’t stomach an alliance with a largely religious crew? Who knows. But worth asking the question.

(cross-posted to ProWomanProLife)

Posted by Andrea Mrozek on April 14, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (18)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Strange role models

Those old school feminists choose strange role models:

We want fewer and better children . . . and we cannot make the social life and the world-peace we are determined to make, with the ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens that you inflict on us.

That ghastly message appeared in the introduction to Margaret Sanger’s 1922 book, The Pivot of Civilization.In a little-noticed incident, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced that she is “really in awe” of Sanger. “The 20th-century reproductive-rights movement, really embodied in the life and leadership of Margaret Sanger, was one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race,” Clinton declaimed upon receiving an award from the organization that Sanger founded, Planned Parenthood.

Sanger is a very, er, conflicted mentor, at best. And either Clinton doesn’t know all she stood for (unlikely) or she really does agree with her. In which case, I’d agree with the author of the article linked to–this certainly does “puncture the fiction that [Clinton] is a moderate.”

(cross-posted to ProWomanProLife)

Posted by Andrea Mrozek on April 13, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3)

Was Barack Obama born in the U.S.? The shocking true story!

Birth_Certificate

Just about every other day I get a breathless email from, for example, "Conservative Action Alerts" (and from various assorted other lists that I belong to) that raises the critically vital issue of whether or not president Barack Obama was, in fact, born in the U.S., Kenya, Greenland, or planet Obamatron. Admittedly, this is better than the emails I get from breathless Obamaniacs who are more interested in whether or not Barack Obama was born of a virgin.

The latest in this contest of who will continue with their idiocy the longest is a ruling from Judge James Robertson in Hollister v Soetoro. Hollister is a colonel in the U.S. Army and is apparently wracked with concern about whether or not his Commander-in-Chief (a.k.a. president) was birthed on American soil, as demanded by the Constitution, or in some non-American country.

It didn't dawn on him that this matters not at all. But it did dawn on the judge that the whole thing was frivolous. Said the judge in his ruling:

This case, if it were allowed to proceed, would deserve mention in one of those books that seek to prove that the law is foolish or that America has too many lawyers with not enough to do. Even in its relatively short life the case has excited the blogosphere and the conspiracy theorists. The right thing to do is to bring it to an early end.

The plaintiff says that he is a retired Air Force colonel who continues to owe fealty to his Commander-in-Chief (because he might possibly be recalled to duty) and who is tortured by uncertainty as to whether he would have to obey orders from Barack Obama because it has not been proven -- to the colonel’s satisfaction -- that Mr. Obama is a native-born American citizen, qualified under the Constitution to be President. The issue of the President’s citizenship was raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered, and otherwise massaged by America’s vigilant citizenry during Mr. Obama’s two-year-campaign for the presidency, but this plaintiff wants it resolved by a court.

The real plaintiff is probably Philip J. Berg, a lawyer who lives in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, and who has pursued his crusade elsewhere, see Berg v. Obama, 574 F. Supp. 2d 509 (E.D. Pa. 2008), invoking the civil rights statutes, the Federal Election Campaign Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the law of promissory estoppel. That case was the subject of a scholarly opinion by a judge who took Mr. Berg’s claims seriously –- and dismissed them. Mr. Hollister is apparently Mr. Berg’s fallback brainstorm, essentially a straw plaintiff, one who could tee Mr. Berg’s native-born issue up for decision on a new theory: If some “value” could be assigned to the “duties” the plaintiff thinks he might someday be called upon to fulfill under the Commander-in-Chief, then those “duties” could be deposited in the registry of this Court as the res whose distribution is to be decided by a suit in interpleader!

It's nice and short, so do read the whole thing.

So what's the shocking true story? It's this: No one cares. And no one should.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on April 13, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (213)

Should dead people father children; and can product liability law cover donated sperm?

Two items to get you to your nearest school for biomedical ethics courses.

First, the case of the mother who wants to harvest her dead son's sperm, find a surrogate, and raise the baby:

Evans isn't concerned about what others might think. She says she is only doing what her son would have wanted.

"He would love me so much for doing this," she said.

Austin police say Nikolas Evans was punched during a fight on an Austin street early March 27 and then fell to the ground, striking his head. He died April 5. Police are still trying to identify the person who hit him.

After a doctor told her that nothing more could be done for her son, Missy Evans came up with the idea of harvesting his sperm. She discussed the idea with her ex-husband, her older son and other family members, and said all supported her wish to help a part of Nikolas live on through his future offspring...

"That child's biological father will be dead. The mother may be an egg donor, anonymous or gestational surrogate," said Tom Mayo, director of Southern Methodist University's Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility.

"This is a tough way for a kid to come into the world. As the details emerge and the child learns more about their origins, I just wonder what the impact will be on a replacement child," Mayo said...

Art Caplan, chair of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said that in the past decade there have probably been about 1,000 such requests by spouses, mothers, girlfriends and others in the U.S. - but most "don't wind up using it."

Caplan said hospitals may have protocols for dealing with such requests, but there are few laws or regulations regarding the practice. It's usually up to a urologist to decide whether to perform the procedure, he said...

Mark Vopat, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Youngstown State University in Ohio, questions whether the court should have granted the mother's request. He said that while Nikolas Evans may have told his mother he wanted children someday, it's wrong to assume he also would have wanted to father a child posthumously if he died prematurely.

"This is a disturbing sort of case," he said.

Second, just what kind of "product" is sperm anyway, and what sort of liability should a sperm bank have if a disease or disorder is traced to donated sperm?

SPERM should be subject to the same product liability laws as car brakes, according to a US judge who has given a teenager with severe learning disabilities the go-ahead to sue the sperm bank that provided her with a biological father.

Brittany Donovan, now 13 years old, was born with fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder causing mental impairment and carried on the X chromosome. She is now suing the sperm bank, Idant Laboratories of New York, under a product liability law more commonly associated with manufacturing defects, such as faulty car brakes.

Donovan does not have to show that Idant was negligent, only that the sperm it provided was unsafe and caused injury. "It doesn't matter how much care was taken," says Daniel Thistle, the lawyer representing Donovan, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Genetic tests have revealed that she inherited the disorder from her biological father.

O brave new world. O brave new world that has such medical magic in it.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on April 13, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Roadkill Radio to shake things up with Ezra's Shakedown

Roadkill Radio is up and running again tonight, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Pacific, with another high-energy, big-content show. Kari Simpson and I will begin with an in-depth interview of Ezra Levant, author of the acclaimed new book, Shakedown, which exposes the many injustices and insanities that characterize the Canadian human-rights industry.

We'll then segue into another human-rights-commission-related matter, the recent filing of a CHRC complaint by a group of gay/lesbian/bisexual activists who claim the Canadian health-care system systemically discriminates against them. Be sure to listen as we explore the many ramifications of this complaint.

Next up will be our monthly visit with pollster Glen Robbins, who has a tasty tidbit of public opinion for us.

Finally, it's our Roadkill Radio Warrior of the Week, pharmacist Cristina Alarcon, who will tell us about the international fight to protect the conscience rights of health-care workers.

It all starts at 7:30 p.m.  Pacific tonight at www.roadkillradio.com. Listen live or call up the archived show later.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on April 7, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 03, 2009

'Progressives' want to silence so-con parents

Does advancement of a "progressive" agenda in public schools necessarily mean that socially-conservative parents must be silenced? A Fraser Valley professor, Martha Dow, thinks so, and she's probably right. [I'd like to link you to the Xtra West story on her comments, but it now appears to be offline.] Of course, that doesn't mean that I believe a progessive agenda should be taught, but it does mean that I understand that for one philosophical view to become dominant, the opposing one must inevitably suffer.

I look at the implications of Prof. Dow's comments in my side of this week's Face to Face debate in the Tri-City News. For her part, my debating opponent, Mary Woo Sims, takes a "don't worry, be happy" approach to the whole affair.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on April 3, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (26)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wheels of justice grind slowly

Without referencing the merits of the case, I still think that, in principle, it is good to see evidence that judges can be held accountable for their actions, even if it takes an amazing five full years from the time the investigation into his alleged misconduct was announced until today's initial finding.

And, by the way, in the Globe's account of this (the first link), I'm pretty sure that, if the judge had been a former Tory MP instead of an ex-Grit cabinet minister, the paper would have clearly noted his political affiliation.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on March 31, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beware religious dogma in Africa

And when I say religious dogma, I mean the secular kind. Recall the controversy over the Pope's comments on AIDS and condoms? At least one Harvard academic is saying the immortal gods of science prove the Pope right:

A senior Harvard research scientist confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI, who endured heavy criticism for declaring that condom distribution programs worsen the AIDS epidemic in Africa, was actually correct. Dr. Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, told National Review Online last week that despite AIDS activists and media outlets pounding the pope for downplaying the effectiveness of condoms, the science actually supports the Catholic leader's claim.

(cross-posted to ProWomanProLife)

Posted by Andrea Mrozek on March 24, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (25)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

British Big Brother keeps on watching

One of the most galling things is to see the state use the appartus it sets up under the pretense of protecting society to trample our freedoms. When the concept of a sex offender registry was started many years ago, no one objected. After all, who could object to tracking the worst of our society and who prey on children. Then the state expanded the definition of sex offender to anyone convicted of sexual assault (and this is more so in the US states). Now the British government is thinking of putting abusive partners (read men) on a list and warn their future partners about the perils of dating and marrying the offenders on the list. Of course, no word on whether you have to be convicted or merely accused be put on the list. No word on how long the list stays for. And for God's sake what is the stated doing getting into the marriage/dating counselling business.

Posted by Moin A Yahya on March 11, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (12)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Person to person

Abortion is not murder in Canada, of course, because one can murder only a legal person. And, as we all know, Canadian courts have repeatedly ruled that the fetus is not a legal person. So, while ending the life of an unborn child certainly constitutes a killing (because the fetus is undeniably alive) and might even be considered feticide, it cannot be seen as a murder.

I'm thinking of these things this morning in reaction to news that "Montana's Senate passed a constitutional personhood amendment (SB 406) which would recognize all human beings, including the unborn, as persons, in a 26-24 vote last week."

There appears to be a central organization behind the personhood initiative, Personhood USA. The Christian group's website notes that seven states have launched personhood drives, and the group's ultimate aim is to protect "every child by love and by law" and to move "churches and the culture to make the dehumanization and murdering of pre-born children unthinkable."

There is no indication yet that the group intends to expand northward. Pity.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on March 3, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Smeared with oil sands

According to Don Martin in today's National Post, the National Geographic's feature on Alberta's oil sands is PR hell, delivering a black eye from which the province will never recover.

I doubt it.

First, the National Geographic may still be widely read, but I doubt that it's anywhere near as influential as it was in the days before television and then the Internet. No single print publication can change public perception on its own. Moreover, the magazine may have portrayed the oil sands as an environmental wasteland, but there have never been any secrets about the megaprojects' disruption of the "natural" order in northern Alberta. Anyone who cared to be disgusted by the alteration of the landscape has undoubtedly already been so sickened.

Second, the magazine's expose comes at a time when economic concerns are clearly trumping environmental ones. Readers may not like to looks of the disturbed land, but now more than ever they realize how important such developments are to their well-being. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it best in his Feb. 23 interview with Larry Kudlow on CNBC:

First of all, let me be clear about the importation [by the U.S.] of oil sands oil. Regardless of what any legislature does, the United States will be importing this oil because there is absolutely no doubt that if you look at the supply-and-demand pattern into the future, the United States is going to need Canadian oil. It is the one secure, growing market-based source of energy that the United States has. There will be no choice but to import this oil…

…any policy [to stop the importation of oil sands oil] is completely unrealistic if you look at American needs for energy and where Americans can get the supply at a reasonable price… we will do what we can to reduce the carbon footprint. But there should be no illusion that economic reality will hit those environmental policies pretty hard when one goes to implement them.

UPDATE: You can read the National Geographic article for yourself here and view the accompanying slideshow.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on February 25, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (15)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grievance industry

Does Vancouver's at-large voting system for council, school board and park board mean that the system is fundamentally racist? A failed Indo-Canadian candidate points to the fact that his ethnic brethern have a hard time winning under the at-large (as opposed to ward) system as evidence of systemic discrimination.

I think it's just sour grapes, but Mary Woo Sims, my debating partner in the weekly Face to Face feature at the Tri-City News, thinks the candidate might have a point--and might even have a case worth pursuing at the Human Rights Tribunal.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on February 16, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (21)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Satire, served union-style

The B.C. Teachers' Federation has launched a special task force to implement a priority plan to send an emergency assistance team to California to aid the union's southerly brethern in rooting out moderates and conservatives within the state's teaching ranks.

The BCTF, which, along with Ontario's CUPE, is one of Canada's most "progressive unions," launched its unprecedented "rescue" plan after learning that California's teachers had voted 2-to-1 in favour of the traditional definition of marriage in the state's much publicized referendum last fall--this, even though the teachers' union itself had contributed heavily to the counter-campaign in favour of gay marriage.

BCTF president Irene Lanzinger commented: "The California union's membership is obviously out of step with its more enlightened leadership. We've seen this sort of thing throughout history before. We obviously need to strengthen top-down powers and limit executive accountability."

Posted by Terry O'Neill on February 10, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

$85 billion deficit: The Canadian budget

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has released the budget, and the spending is gargantuan. It is monstrous. It is ginormous. The Conservatives are projecting an $85 billion dollar deficit over the next five years.

From CTV: "We must do what it takes to keep our economy moving, and to protect Canadians in this extraordinary time," Flaherty said. "Making new investments is more challenging in such a time; but it is also more necessary than ever."

I wonder... can I call it an "investment" the next time I pay my toll traveling along the 407? Or does that just count as regular-old "spending"?

Here are some of the details, again from CTV:

The surprise move of the day was the roughly $2 billion per year in income tax cuts. Those cuts will extend to $20 billion over the next six years.

The tax changes will include a slight increase in the basic personal exemption and raising the upper limit on the two lowest personal income-tax brackets.

Business tax cuts were also included in the budget, $2 billion over six years.

Government spending will jump dramatically in the budget -- up 11 per cent in the 2009-2010 and three per cent in the year following.

EI benefits will also be extended five weeks for the next two years.

Other measures in the budget include:

* $12 billion for infrastructure spending towards roads, sewers and universities, $1 billion for "green" infrastructure, and $1 billion for clean-energy research.
* $1.5 billion for job training
* $7.8 billion for social housing and home renovation, including a one-year only Home Renovation Tax Credit of up to $1,350 per household.
* $2.7 billion in short-term loans to the auto industry.
* More than $1.4 billion for aboriginal schools, health, water, housing, community services and training.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 27, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (12)

Riding the "O" Wave

I heard about a new Chrysler logo from a friend, but was only able to find one reference on this blog. The image below is taken from the same. The blogger says he saw this billboard somewhere near New Hampshire.

ChryslerBama

Is Chrysler joining Pepsi on the advertising O-train? Curious what ya'll think -- will this kind of marketing help, hurt or not really affect companies? Will Obama fatigue eventually kick in?

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on January 27, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3)