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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lori Conway: Case study for botched deregulation

Meet Lori Conway, a so-called "energy hopper." A Texan, Conway owes Ambit Energy  at least $2,600. Instead of paying the bill, she's switched to another electricity provider, leaving Ambit with no recourse but to take her to court to recover the money she owes.

Apparently, this kind of thing happens all the time, leaving responsible customers to make up the difference.

So how does it happen? If you ran a utility company, would you provide services to Conway, knowing how much she already owes? Or, at least, wouldn't you want a big deposit from her first before turning on the juice?

Well, here's the problem: In Texas, you wouldn't have any way of knowing that Conway owed at least two grand to other electricity providers.

Dave Lieber at the Star-Telegram writes:

"Electricity providers are hampered by state rules that prohibit the creation of a statewide database showing customers’ payment histories. If there were one, providers could see which customers are big risks.


Despite pleas from some providers, the state has not created a rule allowing a statewide database because of concern that it could place anunfair burden on some customers, especially lower-income households."


So the Texas legislature is preventing electricity providers from sharing information with each other, the kind of information that -- in a truly free market -- would allow these companies to decide on a rational basis who they would or would not provide energy to, and how much of a deposit they would charge to bear the risk of doing so.

But there's more:

"Under Texas law, no one can be denied electricity service because of credit or payment history. Providers also cannot charge different rates to customers based on their financial worthiness."

You have to feel bad for the responsible customers who pay their bills on time. They end up paying more because people like Lori Conway feel like getting electricity for free.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Hug a capitalist worker this Labour Day

In a press release on Friday, Minister of Labour Jean Pierre Blackburn said “Labour Day provides an opportunity to praise all the men and women who generate the wealth of our nation."

I agree.

But rather than taking the opportunity to “praise all the men and women who generate the wealth of our nation,” our September 1st annual celebration is too often used as an opportunity to praise socialism and the political class.

Case in point: Stephen Hunt, a director with the Steelworkers union, wrote “There would have been no Labour Day without the presence of trade unions in our country....In Western Canada, let’s celebrate the fact that we do have a loyal political ally in every province and Territory – the New Democratic Party – to join us in celebration....There’s nothing that Stephen Harper would rather do, if he gains a majority, than push through numerous policies that are destructive to working people.”

Of course, labour unions like the Steelworkers don’t represent non-unionized workers who trade their labour freely, and the NDP don’t represent hard working capitalists who struggle everyday to overcome the burden of government exploitation in order to create the “wealth of our nation” of which Minister Blackburn speaks.

As for Harper, while he has burdened working people with the biggest government in Canadian history, it is unlikely that this burden would be less onerous under the NDP, although anything is possible.

I wrote recently about “the ongoing international class struggle between the political class (tax consumers) and the working class (taxpayers)” in a post titled “Bureaucrat running dogs take a bigger bite.” I argue that the Marxist notion of class conflict is essentially correct, but that the struggle is not between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It is between those who create wealth and those who live off the wealth created by others. It is a conflict between the working class (which includes capitalists) and the political class (which very often includes labour unions that extort wealth from the private sector using exploitive labour laws, not to mention forced union dues).

Labour Day properly belongs to private sector workers and their capitalist brothers and sisters and not to the political class and their anti-capitalist friends in Big Labour who, in fact, create no wealth at all.

So don’t forget to hug a capitalist worker this Labour Day.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 31, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Friday, August 29, 2008

Is Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin a libertarian?

Sarah_palin2_2 There’s talk on the blogs...

“Sarah Palin has long been considered to be a libertarian-leaning Republican. As Mayor of Wasila (Anchorage suburb), Palin was friends with local libertarian Republican elected officials, and worked closely with them on tax cut proposals.

“She is known to have spoken to two Libertarian Party meetings in 2004/05. She was endorsed by the Libertarian Party of Alaska in the final days of her race for Governor in 2006, even though the LP had it’s [sic] own candidate. On election night, Ms. Palin at the Egan Center, went out of her way to acknowledge the Libertarian Party’s support in her victory speech.” -- Eric Dondero, Libertarian Republican blog

“Governor Palin was not endorsed by the RLC in 2006, but is somewhat allied with libertarian Republicans in Alaska. The RLC recently endorsed her closely allied Lt. Governor, Sean Parnell, in his race against Don ‘Pork-barrel’ Young, a race in which the results are too close to call at this time.

“McCain’s choice is an indicator that perhaps his campaign is interested in receiving votes from libertarian Republicans.” – Aaron, Republican Liberty Caucus

“For Republican nominee John McCain, there are a numerous potential political downsides and upsides to choosing a relative unknown for VP. But stepping outside the horserace aspects of 2008, Palin is the most libertarian Republican that’s been on a major ticket for a long time. This ideological storyline should appeal to many Western voters.” – David Harsanyi, Denver Post blog

“I found myself falling in love with Sarah Palin. Any Libertarian has to love a woman who said no to pork she was being spoon-fed, who took on the Good Old Boys and won, who is a lifetime NRA member, and who gave back "excess" state revenue. And I found myself-- not crying this time-- but at least getting goosebumps. History again. More cracks in the glass ceiling. You  have to love it.” -- John Wingspread Howell, Nolan Chart

And here’s a detractor...

“She's not a libertarian folks. She's a ‘conservative Republican.’ She's a pro-war, pro-tyranny, and anti-freedom vice presidential pick. There's nothing consistently libertarian about her.” -- Todd Andrew Barnett, Let Liberty Ring blog

And here’s a little something for the pro-lifers...

“This development is so radically unexpected that it is hard to understand how it could have happened, but I gather all solidly pro-life Americans are thrilled beyond measure about it. I just saw Pat Buchanan on NBC's Hardball go on and on with such enthusiasm I thought he was going to have a stroke. That is how excited Palin has made social conservative Americans.” -- Steve Jalsevac, LifeSiteNews.com

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 29, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (41) | TrackBack

Commander-in-Chief announces the creation of a new military medal: Sacrifice Medal

Michaëlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, announce that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II approved the creation of the Sacrifice Medal. The medal will be awarded to military personnel, members of allied forces or Canadian civilians working under the authority of the Canadian Forces, who suffered wounds or death caused by hostile action, on or after October 7, 2001, the start of the war in Afghanistan.

“Our soldiers deserve our utmost respect and deepest gratitude,” said the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada. “This medal recognizes the valued contribution of those who sacrificed their health or their lives while serving Canada.”

“It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.” – Ayn Rand (1905 – 1980)

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 29, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Feds “invests” $20 million to stop the unregulated trade in tobacco: Natives and the smoking poor disproportionately affected

When health related news is released by the Minister of National Revenue, you can be quite sure that revenue, and not health, is what is really at issue.

National Revenue Minister Gordon O'Connor today announced a $20 million “investment” over the next four years to “combat contraband tobacco and its damaging effects on the health of Canadians.”

Since contraband tobacco has no more “damaging effects on the health of Canadians” than taxed and regulated tobacco, my guess is that the “damaging effects” are on government revenues.

On July 31, Minister O'Connor announced that that he and the provinces had come to a settlement concerning tobacco smuggling. Imperial Tobacco and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges were forced to pay $1.15 billion to the governments in fines and civil settlements for their role in “aiding persons to sell or be in possession of tobacco products manufactured in Canada that were not packaged and were not stamped in conformity with the Excise Act and its amendments and the ministerial regulations,” between 1989 and 1994.

Yes, that’s right, tobacco companies were found guilty of selling tobacco without giving Gordon "Mad Dog" O'Connor and the Capital Hill gang a taste of the action.

This $20 million announcement is intended to put an end to this kind of unregulated commerce.

O'Connor said “Contraband tobacco negatively affects all Canadians and our Government is determined to fight the problem.”

But contraband tobacco doesn’t negatively affect all Canadians.  In fact, it positively affects low income smokers who can spend significantly less on tobacco and, thereby, spend significantly more on other priorities.

In his column “Support Native resistance,” libertarian scholar Pierre Lemieux wrote:

Cigarettes manufactured and sold on Native reserves are priced as low as $6 per carton. This compares to more than $65 elsewhere in the country, the outrageous legal prices being due to federal and provincial taxes....

It is thanks to the Natives that five or ten per cent of the population can purchase affordable cigarettes and that the smokers of legal cigarettes are not taxed even more....the Natives are helping to satisfy...consumer demands.

This Conservative crackdown on unregulated tobacco commerce is an attack on Natives and the smoking poor -- and it's a misallocation of law enforcement resources.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 29, 2008 in Crime | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack

Video of McCain and Palin in Dayton

Skip ahead to 9 minutes or so to get right to Palin's speech, although McCain's introduction isn't bad. He's a lot more vigorous in this appearance than he's been on other occasions.

Palin is extremely likable. And her oldest son is in the army (he even enlisted on September 11th! -- of last year, anyway.) All her kids have kooky names (Track, Piper, Willow, Trig, etc.) That's not a bad thing at all.

The liberals who are claiming Republican men would never vote for a ticket with a woman on it don't know what they're talking about.

Palin: “It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.“ Heh. Not bad at all.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Now this is what we call irony

On the day John McCain picks Alaska Governor Sarah "hockey mom" Palin as his running mate, the American blogger sails into the wind by blogging about - Canada's upcoming election.

I'm fairly certain Canada will have an election now, and here's why: the latest CROP poll put the Conservatives ahead of the Bloc Quebecois in La Belle Province (Cyberpresse  - in French - and Paul Wells - not in French).  This would be the first poll I have ever seen (and I've been following them for about 10 years) that has anyone besides the Bloc in first place (although the Chretien Liberals did win the popular vote there in 2000).   Harper will simply be following D.J. McGuire's one and only law of Canadian politics: It's all about Quebec.

Breaking the numbers down (according to Wellsy) the Conservatives basically own Quebec City, are withing striking distance of the Bloc in the rural areas and - get this - are in a three-way stat ties with the Grits and the Bloc in the Montreal area.

Given the Libs' strength on the west side of Montreal isle and the Bloc's strength on the east side, that basically means the Conservatives could actually win some seats in the suburbs over there.

SH has a historic opportunity to establish the Tories as the lead party - not just the lead federalist party, the lead party period - in the Q.  Moreover, as the campaign progresses and word spreads of the Conservative position, federalist-first voters in Quebec and Ontario will switch over (especially in said rural Quebec ridings).

Cynics would call this crass opportunism.  Non-cynics (and count me among them on this) would say it's a historic chance to knock the Bloc out of the top spot in Quebec and put it on the fast track to oblivion.  Either way, even if he doesn't get a majority out of this, Harper can come away with a much stronger minority at worst (assuming the campaign goes alright) and could turn Quebec into the Conservatives' eastern base.

He'd be a fool to pass this up, and Stephen Harper is no fool. 

Game on.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on August 29, 2008 in Canadian Conservative Politics, Canadian Politics, Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

McCain is going to pick Sarah Palin

That's what I've been predicting on the radio for the last two weeks. Now the rumors are swirling.

Jill Zuckman with the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau cites an unnamed Republican source naming Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as McCain's choice for vice president. The Associated Press has a similar report.

McCain is in Dayton right now where he is expected to announce his choice today at a rally.

I think Palin would be an excellent pick. From what I've read, the former beauty queen is staunchly pro-life and very popular in Alaska. While she has not been governor long, the 44-year-old has at least as much executive experience as Obama. In addition, the fact that she's from Alaska should give McCain further credibility if/when he changes his mind about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Alaskans overwhelmingly support opening ANWR to drilling (consistently about 70 percent, according to the poll discussed here.)

Then there's the fact that picking a woman as his VP might allow McCain to siphon off additional disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters.

As for flaws, Palin is involved in a teeny tiny non-scandal involving her former brother-in-law, a state trooper. I have a feeling this is not going to be an issue, should McCain make her his choice. For one thing, the brother-in-law seems to be something of a violent mad dog, and hardly a sympathetic character.

We shall see. McCain might still pick Mitt Romney and prove me wrong.


CNN has learned from a "senior McCain campaign official" that it's going to be Palin. CNN's report also has other interesting information about the governor.


Here's a picture of Sarah Palin. I think she's really cute.


What the heck, another UPDATE:

Some people just made a chunk of money on Intrade. Palin's contract on Intrade -- a service that lets you buy and sell "shares" in future events -- never went higher than 20 dollars. Prior to today, it was running between 4 and 6 dollars. It's now up to 96.

You know, the next time I make a prediction, I should really put some money down. Grr!

Meanwhile, McCain's contract for winning the election on Intrade just shot up a few points, to 42. Obama's is still running much higher, though. The market seems to be saying that Palin was a good pick, but Obama is still going to win the election.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Was Beijing's Olympic model Montreal?

I know I'm in the minority in my analysis that the Olympic Games were a failure for the regime, but based on the latest news that the tourist dollars just didn't show had me thinking about the Montreal Games in 1976.

I was too young to remember the Games themselves, but the legend of a city bankrupting itself over them lasted for years afterwards.  Did Montreal really get whacked as badly by the Olympics as the legend goes?  Or was it myth?  I'm curious to know.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on August 29, 2008 in Canadian History, International Politics | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

The Stonechild “Stink Test”

The Stonechild “Stink Test”

By Candis McLean & Cst. Larry Lockwood (retired)

Applying the “Stink Test” to the Stonechild inquiry reveals something rotten in the province of Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan justice system has offered up two more Saskatoon police officers in what some see as an attempt to appease aboriginal activists with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations who are lobbying for their own justice system. Two appeal decisions were handed down this summer, both going against former Saskatoon constables Larry Hartwig and Brad Senger. On June 20th, a Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled it would not quash a judge’s findings in the 2004 inquiry into the 1990 freezing death of Saskatoon aboriginal youth, Neil Stonechild. The judge at the inquiry had found that the officers had Stonechild in their custody the night he went missing; the officers have always denied this, and believe the judge acted outside the inquiry’s terms of reference in making that finding. On July 28th, in a separate decision, the Saskatchewan Police Commission upheld the Saskatoon police chief’s decision, based on the inquiry, to fire the officers….

Csts. Hartwig and Senger were both fired from their jobs as a direct result of the Stonechild Inquiry, with both officers having been branded in the public eye as murderers. No charges have ever been brought against these officers in a court of law which would permit them to clear their names, and here we are, some six years later, with the lives of these officers and their families destroyed by a process that was neither fair nor impartial, based on the false assumption that Stonechild was in police custody the night he went missing….

Read the “The Stonechild ‘Stink Test’” here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 29, 2008 in Aboriginal Issues | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Libertarian Party leader will challenge Stephen Harper in Calgary Southwest

Since his first interview after being elected leader of the Libertarian Party, Dennis Young has set his sights on Stephen Harper’s record in office. On issues as diverse as the war in Afghanistan, marijuana law reform, corporate welfare and Ezra Levant’s high profile campaign against the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Young has contrast his party’s policies against the record of the Conservative government.

The Western Standard has now learned that Young plans to take his attack directly to Stephen Harper by running against the Prime Minister in his Calgary Southwest riding.

“I’ve been working to show Canadians who believe in personal and economic freedom that Harper and the Conservatives do not share their core beliefs," said Young. “I can’t think of a better way to do that than to take the Libertarian Party message directly to the constituents of Calgary Southwest.”

In the 2006 federal election, Harper won the Calgary riding with 72 per cent of the vote, but that huge majority doesn’t concern Young. “Harper won by convincing the constituents of Calgary Southwest that he believes in small government and fiscal responsibility,” said Young. “When Calgarians are presented with facts to the contrary, and when they are presented with a clear alternative to the biggest spending government in Canadian history, I think voters will rethink their loyalty.”

Calgary Southwest voters did, in fact, rethink their loyalties in the 1993 federal election, replacing Progressive Conservative incumbent James Hawkes with none other than Reform Party candidate Stephen Harper.

“Calgary Southwest voters punished the Conservatives in the past for abandoning the principles of limited government and constitutional equality. They took a chance on the Reform Party and Stephen Harper. Now it’s Harper who’s the out-of-touch Ottawa insider, and who has to answer my questions about why he saw fit to expand the size of government when he took over from the Liberals. I don’t think his excuses are going work any better than Mulroney’s,” said Young.

While Young says his party is not ready to release its official national platform, he has announced that the campaign slogan will be “Trusting Canadians with Choice.”

“Our message is that the Libertarian Party trusts adult Canadians with their own freedom and choices. We believe in the basic decency and common sense of average citizens and think they can be trusted to manage their own affairs and make their own choices without the interference of government,” said Young. “People will make bad choices from time to time, but that’s all part of what it means to be truly free. We need laws to protect people from the aggressive acts of others, not laws that protect people from themselves.”

The Libertarian Party plans to release its national platform in early September.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 28, 2008 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

ELFs and ALFs strike again

Canada's most persistent domestic terrorists have struck again, this time in B.C.'s Fraser Valley.

See also my Western Standard story of two years ago, describing how these outlaws had spent the summer running riot in Ontario.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on August 28, 2008 in Crime | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Democrats throw flags in the trash?

"Absentee" over at Redstate has some interesting pictures from the Democratic National Convention. Here's one:


For edification, let me post portions of U.S. Code Title 36 Chapter 10.

Section 176 (Respect for Flag):

"The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise."

"The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way."

"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."

Well, at least the Democrats didn't toss the flag in with a bunch of candy wrappers, greasy discarded pizza boxes, torn up Obama signs, and empty water bottles, right?



More pictures here.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

I thought only economies in trouble needed "stimulus packages"?

So why is Communist China getting one?  Could it be that their economy is not really the white-hot juggernaut the cadres have claimed it is?

Posted by D.J. McGuire on August 28, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Western Standard exclusive: Investigative reporter and documentary film maker exposes the ongoing injustice of the Stonechild case

In February 2000, 25-year-old Jason Roy contacted the Saskatoon StarPhoenix to report the results of his “visualization exercise” nine years early in 1991, during which he claims he remembered seeing Neil Stonechild in a police cruiser the night before the aboriginal youth was found frozen to death in 1990.

On Friday, August 29th, investigative reporter and documentary film maker Candis McLean will reveal, exclusively for Western Standard readers, a report on how this unsubstantiated, decade-old personal account of the Stonechild incident from Roy, a juvenile delinquent who was admittedly drunk at the time, destroyed the careers of two Saskatoon cops.

Speaking out for the first time, former Saskatoon police chief Dave Scott is calling the Stonechild case “the biggest injustice ever perpetrated in this province.”

McLean first covered the Stonechild case for the Western Standard in December 2004 in “Case (not) closed.” In June, the Stonechild case was in the news again when the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal dismissed an application to throw out the results of the public inquiry into the freezing death of Stonechild. The two police officers implicated in the death had sought to quash Justice Wright’s conclusions about their role, saying it was outside the scope of the investigation. Larry Hartwig and Brad Senger were fired from the Saskatoon Police Service after the inquiry's report was released.

Some legal and law enforcement experts believe “Justice Wright…chose to overstep the boundaries of his mandate and to draw conclusions he was not entitled to draw.”  They also question the evidence used to build a case against Hartwig and Senger in this highly charged political inquiry.

Don’t miss “The Stonechild stink test” investigative report by Candis McLean and retired Saskatoon Police Service Cst. Larry Lockwood.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 28, 2008 in Crime | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Al & Mike Show Episode 35 - Election!

Jay Currie is filling in for Al. It's all election speculation.

Listen Now

Subscribe to RSS: Click here for podcast RSS feed.

Subscribe in iTunes for your iPod: Click here (Must have iTunes installed)

Posted by Mike Brock on August 27, 2008 in WS Radio | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is anyone surprised by North Korea anymore?

North Korea is one of those international problems that no one knows how to fix and everyone hopes will go away by itself. What is the problem? Basically the root of the difficulty is that North Korea is not a rational actor on the world stage. The entirety of their foreign policy is about keeping the present regime in power, and the people can eat cake.

Recently, Pyongyang has declared that they will stop disabling their nuclear facilities and possibly reopen their weapon grade capability. And why shouldn’t they? Every time they do this they end up getting exactly or close to what they want. Even China is getting fed up with them, but Beijing is too emotionally committed to North Korea to ditch them. After all it was the massive Chinese sacrifice in bodies that created North Korea.

The North Korean government can handle the isolation from the outside world. It keeps their population ignorant and on the verge of starvation. Such a population is easier to control than if they had access to dangerous ideas. So they can afford to piss everyone off like no one else. They simply don’t care.

At the same time what are the options from the point of view of the United States, or China, Russia and Japan for that matter. Especially Japan, North Korea posses a constant security threat to Japan. North Korean pirates use to kidnap Japanese off the streets and force them to work in North Korea. If North Korea does launch nuclear weapons, it won’t be against the United States or South Korea, it will be against Japan.

There is not much that the world can do. They can’t invade a country with the fourth largest military, and sanctions are useless. Isolating them diplomatically hasn’t worked and giving into their demands has been a complete failure. You can’t negotiate with someone who will break their deal in a couple of months.

The only hope is that the whole issue goes away when Kim Jong-il dies, but even that is assuming that the problem doesn’t go deeper than the present leadership.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on August 27, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hillary Clinton supporters angry about Biden and still not warming to Obama

Some of them have taken to calling themselves PUMAs. The acronym stands for "Party Unity My A**". They don't like Democratic nominee Barack Obama and some of them are even planning to vote for John McCain, even appearing in his campaign ads, as previously discussed here.

A Washington Post poll indicates that only 42 percent of Clinton voters are "solidly behind" Obama. And the choice of Joe Biden as VP hasn't really improved the situation, especially among women. According to another poll, only a third of women thought Biden was the right choice for Obama's Vice President.

Feminists have pointed out that on the very first day after accepting the position, Biden made an arguably sexist remark about his own wife:

"Ladies and Gentleman, my wife Jill who you will meet soon and who is drop dead gorgeous. (Laughter) My wife Jill, who you will meet soon. She also has her doctorate degree which is a problem. (Laughter) But all kidding aside, my Jill, my Jill, my wife Jill and I are honored to join Barack and Michelle on this journey. Because that is what it is. It's a journey."

For further evidence that Clinton supporters at the highest levels are not happy, take a look at this picture of James Carville, Bill Clinton's campaign strategist, from the Democratic Convention.


What's that he's wearing on his feet? Could those be.. pumas?

<a href="http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&BB_id=102386">What's keeping former Clinton supporters from embracing Obama?</a> | <a href="http://www.buzzdash.com">BuzzDash</a>

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Open letter from Libby Davies to Tony Clement on harm reduction

August 21, 2008

Hon. Tony Clement
Minister of Health
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Clement,

I am writing to express my grave concern regarding your misleading and irresponsible attacks on harm reduction and Vancouver's InSite supervised injection site at the recent World Health Organization XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City and again at the 2008 Canadian Medical Association conference in Montreal.

At both of these conferences, you persisted in representing harm reduction and drug rehabilitation/treatment as two mutually exclusive, alternative approaches to problems associated with drug addiction. As has been explained to you on numerous occasions by health researchers, medical professionals, drug treatment experts and others, this is an entirely false dichotomy. Harm reduction is one component of a comprehensive "Four Pillar" approach, which also includes prevention, treatment and law enforcement. Low-threshold programs, such as supervised injection sites are essential in the Four Pillars approach for reducing overdose deaths and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, and also for drawing hard-to-reach users into treatment and rehabilitation. Harm reduction is part of a continuum of care that includes treatment and prevention, and the only voices in Canada portraying it as a 'substitute' are you and your government.

Unfortunately, your recent comments in Mexico City and Montreal are only the latest episodes in a well-established pattern of putting ideology and partisan politics ahead of rational public policy on this issue.

The Conservative government's National Anti-Drug Strategy has essentially abandoned the Four Pillars approach for a "One Pillar," US-style "war in drugs" that puts almost all resources into law enforcement. As of 2007, law enforcement accounted for an overwhelming 73% of spending in the National Anti-Drug Strategy, while treatment only received 14%, research just 7% and prevention and harm reduction a pitiful 2.6% each.

The Conservative government delayed a decision on the status of InSite for more than two years, claiming more research needed to be done. Now the research has been done, and it is absolutely clear. More than 20 peer-reviewed studies by internationally recognized researchers have demonstrated the health, safety and cost benefits of InSite. Even the criminologist hired by the government to evaluate the existing research said that InSite contributes to public order and saves lives. The response from the government in the face of this overwhelmingly favourable body of research was that the decision on InSite would not be based on scientific evidence alone.

At the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, you called supervised injection sites "harm addition," contradicting the official policy developed by the World Health Organization in conjunction with the world's leading addiction and health researchers.

At the 2008 Canadian Medical Association conference, you attacked the CMA's support for InSite and harm reduction generally, even going so far as to question the ethics of the 80% of Canadian doctors who support supervised injection sites.

Given the weight of evidence and the time that you and your government have had to digest it, I can only conclude that this continuing opposition to the Four Pillars approach is not because of an honest lack of comprehension, but is instead driven by the partisan political concerns of the Conservative Party. At a time when a comprehensive approach to the problem of drug addiction is so desperately needed, it is frustrating that you and your party have chosen cheap partisan political games over rational, evidence-based public policy.

My concern about your statements is compounded by your party's recent use of public money to mail leaflets containing dehumanizing language into East Vancouver and other communities across Canada. People with addictions are amongst the most desperate and vulnerable in our society, and referring to them as "junkies" is simply bullying and has no legitimate place in public discourse. While your party was clearly attempting to fear-monger and appeal to people's safety and security concerns, the Conservative Party has instead simply displayed the mean spiritedness and lack of compassion that underlies so many of its policies. Will future Conservative Party leaflets begin referring to Canadians with mental illnesses as "nutcases"? Or maybe call people with physical disabilities people "cripples"? Canadians have moved beyond this sort of stigmatization and dehumanization of vulnerable and ill people. I have received numerous letters and phone calls from constituents and people across Canada outraged by this mailing.

Based on the above concerns, I strongly urge you and your government to take the following actions:

1.Abandon the time and money-wasting appeal of the BC Supreme Court's Decision on InSite, and start work on implementing a well-funded, comprehensive, evidence based and effective Four Pillars strategy for dealing with drug addiction. This government must recognize that harm reduction programs like InSite are a necessary component of a broader strategy that includes prevention, treatment and enforcement.

2.Commit to basing drug policy decisions on scientific evidence and the informed opinion of the mainstream medical and research communities.
History is full of tragic examples of governments and other institutions ignoring evidence because of ideological bias and short-term political concerns. In the case of drug policy in Canada, the price of Conservative ideological purity and political partisanship will be paid in lives ruined and lost. That's too high a price to pay for political games.

3. Respect, support and strengthen effective, locally developed initiatives dealing with addiction related issues. InSite grew out of the experience of groups and individuals working on the frontline of Vancouver's health and poverty crisis. There is broad community consensus in support of the project, including local residents, community groups, social service providers, businesses, law enforcement officers, municipal and provincial politicians, and people coping with addiction themselves. Your government's efforts to disregard the will of the community on this issue shows arrogance and poor judgement.

4. Stop wasting public money distributing dehumanizing, fear-mongering material on this issue to Canadians. Instead, Canadians need access to realistic information on addiction related issues, both to inform public policy and for use in prevention and harm reduction campaigns. This issue is far too important to be manipulated for cheap, partisan political purposes.

I look forward to your reply on this serious matter.


Libby Davies, MP (Vancouver East)
NDP Spokesperson for Drug Policy Reform

Jack Layton MP, NDP Leader
Judy Wasylycia-Leis MP, NDP Health Critic Joe Comartin MP, NDP Justice Critic

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 27, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (32) | TrackBack

Why not recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?

David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, issued a statement yesterday on the situation in Georgia:

“Canada is gravely concerned about Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This recognition violates Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and is contrary to UN Security Council resolutions supported by Russia, as well as to the six-point peace plan brokered by President Nicolas Sarkozy on behalf of the EU.”

Putting aside the issue of Russia’s broken promise to Sarkozy, the EU and the UN Security Council, which is no doubt serious, what is wrong with recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Do people not have the right to democratically secede?

South Ossetia voted twice to secede from Georgia, once in 1992 and again in 2006.

The People's Assembly of Abkhazia passed a resolution in 2006 calling upon Russia to recognize Abkhaz as an independent state after declaring its independence in 1992.

No nation has a permanent claim on its citizens, not even for geopolitical expediency.

Ludwig von Misses wrote in Omnipotent Government that “A nation, therefore, has no right to say to a province: You belong to me, I want to take you. A province consists of its inhabitants. If anybody has a right to be heard in this case it is these inhabitants. Boundary disputes should be settled by plebiscite.” He also wrote in Nation, State, and Economy that “No people and no part of a people shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want.”

It appears that in both the case of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the people have expressed a desire through democratic processes to change their political association. The concept in international law that demands that a secessionist movement, in order to be legitimate, must first be recognized by the nation from which it hopes to secede is like demanding bi-partisan agreement before a divorce is recognized. Unilateral secession must be allowed after it can be demonstrated that there is a genuine will among the people to separate.

Furthermore, even applying the standards of Canada’s Clarity Act, which established the rules for secession in accordance with international law, Georgia had an obligation to negotiate terms of secession with both these breakaway regions. And after more than 15 years, Georgia has failed to do this -- although, to its credit, it did grant both these regions a high degree of autonomy.

In an interview for this post, Dr. Jason Sorens, founder of the Free State Project and expert on international secessionist movements, said “It is difficult to defend Russia's conduct of the war with Georgia, but it is equally difficult to defend the willingness of the U.S., Canada, and other NATO governments to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence while ruling out future recognition for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If independence for minorities is ruled out from the start, then they have no alternative but to turn to violence. Independence with security guarantees for ethnic Georgians should at least be on the negotiating table.”

As I stated in my previous post on this matter, Russia should stay out of Georgia, and Georgia should stay out of South Ossetia (and Abkhazia). Let me add that the international community should also be less reluctant to recognize independence movements.

Sorens thinks we can learn something else: “The other lesson from this whole episode is that NATO expansion is foolish. Bringing Georgia into the security guarantee would entail that our soldiers could end up dying in a war against Russia while helping Georgia crush the legitimate aspirations of its ethnic minorities. Is that what we really want?”

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 27, 2008 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Me and the CRTC

I'd like to interrupt all this election chatter to talk about something that really matters to Canadians: porn.

Check out my latest Sun media column.

Posted by Gerry Nicholls on August 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vice President Carly Fiorina

I’m watching former HP CEO Carly Fiorina on Fox right now.  This is the second night that I’ve watched her on here.  I’m convinced, especially after the lukewarm endorsement that Hillary Clinton gave Obama tonight, that the best move for John McCain is to pick a woman.

And this is the woman.  Vice President Carly Fiorina, sounds good to me.  She’s my choice, at least, and I think that she’s the best choice.

She’s poised, elegant, and attractive as these things go.  She’s an excellent speaker.  A lot of things auger in her favour:

First, of all, there’s the obvious point of her gender.

Indeed, in many ways she’s perfectly positioned for that role of appealing to Hillary voters.  In particular, her compelling story – CEO of HP, forced out by old men for making a hard call that turned out to be right (the HP-Compaq merger) is compelling and can be sold.

It’s actually the exact set-up that I prefer.  Lure the enemy into an ambush.  The Democrats won’t be able to restrain themselves from attacking her record as CEO of HP, doubtlessly in ways that would strike many people as sexist (or could at least be spun in such a fashion).

Second, she’s a genuine Washington outsider – something that would starkly contrast with the absolute insider that Obama chose for his Vice President.   Indeed, it would be hard to argue that close to forty years in the Senate talking away makes someone more qualified for executive office than half a decade at the helm of one of the world’s most important and recognizable companies.

Third, she’s positioned to neutralize two McCain weaknesses: the economy and the idea that he’s “out of touch” with the modern world.  How better to counter the idea that McCain is a relic of the pre-internet age than making the former CEO of HP the Vice President?

Ideologically, she’s a fairly blank slate – though, she’s pro-life (which is why I’d suggest that McCain take her over eBay’s Meg Whitman).  She seems to be strong on the economy.  I’m not sure where she is on foreign policy, but I doubt if she has much of a paper trail.

What of the other choices?

Mitt Romney.  He and McCain don’t seem to like eachother very much.  Their attacks in the primary would be dredged up.  The Mormon issue.

Joe Lieberman.  If I knew how people would react, I’d go for Lieberman – but, with McCain seemingly taking the lead, he’s just too big a risk.  Make him the Secretary of State after the election (I think that Gates ought to stay at Defense in the McCain Administration).

Tim Pawlenty: Tim who?  He’s been a fine Governor in Minnesota, but who’s ever heard of him?  He doesn’t have the compelling story to launch him into orbit, I think.

Mike Huckabee:  Nah.  He’ll upset too many people and not bring enough in.

Eric Cantor: Nice guy – but, again, who?  Congressman to Vice President is a leap too far.

Honestly, I think that she’s as damned close to a perfect choice as you can get.  Help to pull women.  Fill in gaps in the resume.  A fresh face.  Tempts the Democrats into launching self-destructive attacks.

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on August 26, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

What the Hell?

This is my eighth convention.  I've watched every convention since 1996.  This is terrible.

I mean - I'm a Republican, so obviously I'm not going to love what the Democrats say - but this is terribly, terribly managed.  Hillary's speech didn't even start until 10:45PM on the East Coast.

That was after they actually switched keynote speakers at the last minute.  And man, wasn't the Governor of Montana terrible right before Hillary?

That video she ran screamed "I hope that Barack loses, since I'm running in 2012".  Didn't mention Obama once - hell, I don't see how that video would have been different if Hillary was the nominee.

This convention is just terribly managed.  They're going to run overtime, unless this is one of the shortest featured speeches ever.

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on August 26, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

The good work of counterfeit deterrence is undone by loose monetary policy

The Bank of Canada announced today the recipients of its 2008 Law Enforcement Award of Excellence for Counterfeit Deterrence. The honours went to Corporal Tim Laurence, Corporal Susan MacLean, and now-retired Staff Sergeant Ken MacDonald of the Integrated Counterfeit Enforcement Team, RCMP Toronto West. The trio was recognized at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in Montréal, Quebec.

The recipients of the Award of Excellence executed an investigation code-named Project Ophir, which foiled a criminal plot to produce over $6 million in counterfeit bank notes.

The work of these dedicated cops benefited every Canadian. Printing money creates inflation, devalues the dollar and destroys savings.

But, as I’ve written before in my post on the film The Counterfeiters, so does a loose monetary policy.

The Bank of Canada is expanding the money supply at 12%. That’s sure to be inflationary, but maybe that’s the point. Canada’s strong dollar is hurting the vote-rich manufacturing centres in Central Canada with a federal election on the horizon.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 26, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Recipe for a fall election in Canada

Stephen Taylor offers an accurate description of the situation in Ottawa, and a plausible scenario (and good play) for the Conservatives to force an election.
"A simple confidence motion by the Conservatives would do the trick:

This House resolves that a carbon tax would destroy this country and that Canadians do not trust politicians when it comes schemes of tax shifting. This House has confidence in this government to [lower the income tax/introduce tax splitting/decrease the GST to 3%/cut corporate tax] (pick one or two) because such conservative measure(s) are the best way forward for Canadians"

As Taylor notes "if Mr. Dion votes against, we go to an election with Dion defending a carbon tax and the Conservatives proposing tax cuts. The election is then defined on tax policy rather than the environment."

CanWest is reporting that "a general election could be held as early as Oct. 14, the first Tuesday after the Thanksgiving weekend."

In related news, it really does look like we're off to the races.

Here's a question for our readers who think themselves policy wonks: which tax policy or reform would you like to see the Conservative party propose as an alternative to Dion's green shift? If you've got more specific proposals or an option that's not in the poll, feel free to explain it in the comments.


                                                                                                                        <p>&lt;p&gt;&amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&amp;amp;BB_id=102386&amp;quot;&amp;gt;What tax policy should the Conservative Party support?&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt; | &amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;http://www.buzzdash.com&amp;quot;&amp;gt;BuzzDash&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&lt;/p&gt;</p>                             

Posted by Kalim Kassam on August 26, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack

One trade agreement closer to world peace

19th century French intellectual Frederick Bastiat wrote that “If goods don’t cross borders, armies will."

Trade fosters peace by encouraging mutually beneficial economic cooperation and aligning national interests.

Today, the Conservatives brought us one step closer to world peace with the announcement of a negotiated trade agreement with Jordan.

Michael Fortier, Minister of International Trade, said “We welcome this opportunity to expand Canada-Jordan trade relations. This bilateral free trade agreement will open up significant opportunities for Canadian companies in this growing economy, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Trade between Canada and Jordan totaled $76 million in 2007.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Obama's Negative Bounce

Gallup has the race at 46-44 McCain, Rasmussen has a 46-46 tie. CNN/Gallup has it at 47-47 post-Biden.

Obama appears to have suffered a negative bounce from the Biden pick. And, from the first night, I don't see much of a convention bounce for him - Michelle Obama's speech was nice enough, but I don't see it convincing anyone.

Let's watch Hillary tonight, I suppose, an see where we are in a week.

Remember what I've said for a long time: Obama is going to lose big, in the end and, in retrospect, it will appear to have been obvious all along. When it's over, the media will act shocked and attribute it to racism - ground they're already beginning to prepare.

McCain's campaign is surging and Obama's is wilting at the right time. Where McCain hit back quickly and effectively on the housing issue - throwing Rezko back in Obama's face - Obama has horribly misplayed the Ayers issue.

55-45 McCain, I think is where this is going to end up. The momentum is all wrong and Obama is running out of time to change the game.

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on August 26, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

More Olympic post-mortems

I figure maybe I can squeeze out one more of these before getting engulfed in the elections that will apparently be on both sides of the 49th.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on August 26, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Monday, August 25, 2008

Levant gets an apology from Fast Forward Weekly

Fast Forward Weekly issued an apology to Ezra Levant and the “Western Standard community” for publishing a letter-to-the-editor in 2007 that claimed, among other things, that Levant misused company funds to travel.

In an unsigned letter, Fast Forward Weekly wrote “In particular, we recognize that as a publisher Mr. Levant would have gone to all efforts to promote and improve the Western Standard, locally, nationally and internationally, including ensuring that any use of company funds was appropriate. Any suggestion to the contrary was based on the opinion of the author of the letter and Fast Forward Weekly does not share those views.”

The offending letter was written by a former employee of the Western Standard after the Western Standard announced that it was shutting down its print edition in October 2007. The former employee has refused to apologize for the letter and the defamation matter is now headed for court.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 25, 2008 in Western Standard | Permalink | Comments (93) | TrackBack

Uh-oh: "I'm a Hillary Clinton Democrat and I support John McCain!"

McCain's campaign ads have been excellent lately. Here's another one that is bound to drive people a little crazy:

Debra, the woman in the ad, is indeed a Democrat. In fact, she was one of Hillary Clinton's elected delegates. She was turfed when she continued to support Clinton even after the primaries were over and it was clear Obama was the victor.

Meanwhile, a CNN poll shows the race between Obama and McCain is now tied. Peeling off a few more disgruntled Hillary supporters could make a huge difference in this election.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Wisdom from H.L. Mencken only hours before the start of the Democratic National Convention...

"It is vulgar, it is ugly, it is stupid, it is tedious, it is hard upon both the higher cerebral centers and the gluteus maximus, and yet it is somehow charming. One sits through long sessions wishing all the delegates and alternates were dead and in hell - and then suddenly there comes a show so gaudy and hilarious, so melodramatic and obscene, so unimaginably exhilarating and preposterous that one lives a gorgeous year in an hour.”

H.L. Mencken, 1924

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 25, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

You know you’re an aging hippy when...

...teenagers on skateboards interrupt your pot rally to lecture you on the evils of marijuana.

According to a news report from Metro News in Calgary, marijuana activist Neil Magnuson argued with teenagers during the Calgary stop in his cross Canada Freedom Tour to raise awareness of the injustice of marijuana prohibition.

One the kids said, “I think I can have a better life without weed.”

That’s a smart kid. Life is better enjoyed with a clear head.

But the 50-year-old activist, Magnuson, makes the point that “adults deserve to make their own choices.”

Hmm...also a good point.

So why don’t we treat marijuana like alcohol and encourage parents to teach abstinence?

With 70% of teens admitting to trying marijuana after 80 years of prohibition, we could hardly do worse from a deterrence perspective – and this more liberal approach to marijuana would respect the right of adults to make their own peaceful lifestyle choices.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 25, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (67) | TrackBack

The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated: Radio

Less than 24 hours after I declared radio a dying format, StatsCan reports that 2007 radio advertising sales growth is up:

“In 2007, private radio broadcasters' advertising revenue advanced 6.0% to $1.5 billion (current dollars), outpacing advertising market growth as a whole for the third time in five years.”

In 2006, radio advertising grew by 5.3%.

I predicted that IPods and satellite radio would begin to take a bite out of radio advertising sales growth.

I’m happy to be wrong so far.

While I still believe radio is a medium in decline, it could have a longer run if the CRTC allowed shock jocks to produce the kind of edgy content that keeps both fans and critics listening. Western Standard readers may recall a story by Pierre Lemieux about the CRTC crackdown on Quebec City radio station CHOI-FM that led to the firing of shock jock Jeff Fillion.

Fillion has taken his listeners and their advertising dollars online with his radiopirate.com station.

Howard Stern escaped the long arm of the FCC in the U.S. with his move to satellite radio.

In an era where content is king, conventional radio is being handicapped by government censors.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 25, 2008 in Media | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

WS Radio: The Political Animals are back in action

Greetings, all:

Political Animals, the Western Standard's flagship radio program, begins at 4 pm, EST. We've got a lot to talk about today:

- Is pornography really speech?

- Is Joe Biden a good match for Obama?

- John McCain's awesome attack ads.

- Why is California forcing doctors to perform controversial medical procedures?

- Venezuela's steady slide into socialist hell.

- More on the post-left and its affinity for Islamofascism.

And, for bonus Canadian content (bear with me, I'm the only Canadian on the show today.)

- Is Stephen Harper going to call an election soon?

And lots, lots more. You can listen live here. And please call in, toll free, at 1-888-7-WBGUFM with questions, comments, and rants.


Terrence Watson
AKA Doc Watson

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Lemieux: I love you, neither do I

In this week's column, Pierre Lemieux addresses the state's ambivalent attitude toward the private sphere. What he finds is that, more often than not, "public-private partnerships" are not a real alternative to privatization. Instead, they're attempts by the government bureaucracy to have its cake and eat it, too.

As Lemieux points out, one reason the market is usually more efficient than the government is that the former imposes genuine penalties on those who fail to meet the preferences of those they are trying to serve. A business that fails its customers will so go out of business (unless the government bails it out!)

In contrast, government bureaucrats are often insulated from the effects of their failures. For example, if the Canadian health care system fails you, there is no way for you -- as an individual -- to hold the system and its agents accountable for that failure. There are no private hospitals to which you can turn; and, even if there were, there is no way for you to divert the money you would spend on the public health care system to them, as the public health care system is funded by mandatory taxation. The public system gets funded no matter how inferior it is to potential or actual private alternatives.

Insulating a system from the cost of failure is a guaranteed recipe for inefficiency.

Finally, it seems that even the government is recognizing this, at least to a modest degree. The government will now sometimes contract out its services to private organizations that have superior incentives to their own bureaucrats. This is the kind of public-private partnership to which Lemieux refers.

However, he is quick to note that this is only a second-best measure to full out privatization of government services. In public-private partnerships, the "private" part of the equation is treated as a "junior partner" at best. Private entities are told they must shoulder all the risks of entrepreneurship, but government always reserves the "right" to tell its "partner" what to do, or when its services are no longer required.

In other words, the one who calls all the shots in the end is still a government bureaucrat, and there is no guarantee that his incentives will be as pure as those that drive private entities.

You can see some of this in the American health care system, which is often taken as the example par excellence of a private system. But insurance companies -- the boogy men of the modern American left -- are heavily regulated by the state. As a matter of fact, it can be said that the American health care system is not really that "private" at all.

For example, legislatively-set health insurance mandates require insurance companies to cover everything from hairpieces to marriage counselling. These mandates drive up the cost of insurance so that many Americans can no longer afford the basic care they really need.

No one calls insurance mandates a form of public-private partnership, but in essence that is exactly what they are. Insurance companies shoulder the risk of doing business, but government is really in control, and it has its own incentives that are not always compatible for providing efficient, low-cost coverage of basic medical expenses for most Americans. Insurance companies are told they can only do business if they do so in a more costly way than they would have to otherwise.

And when the cost of health insurance goes up, it is the insurance companies that take the blame, not the government bureaucracy. Again, government is insulated from the effects of its own poor decision-making.

Some excerpts from Lemieux's column:

"The bureaucrats’ trade unions are only one aspect of the state’s inefficiency. The state is inefficient in the deep sense that it cannot generally satisfy and reconcile the diverse preferences of multiple individuals. Markets — that is, decentralized exchanges by individuals on the basis of private property rights — are much more efficient."

"The bloated state under which we now labour cannot be efficient in most of what it does. It is geared to redistribution, that is, stealing from Paul to give to Peter."

"Real reform must be considered. What the public health system needs is real competition from a variety of private organizations, not from tightly regulated private subcontractors as junior partners. Let private initiatives free to compete with the public system. It is because defenders of the status quo know that the bureaucrats couldn’t win that they want so much to preserve the public sector monopoly."


Posted by Terrence Watson on August 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Some Olympiad

What the Communists wanted was fawning press from around the world about how they had arrived as a leader in the world community and deserving of respect.

What they got was a resurrection of Sidewinder.


Posted by D.J. McGuire on August 25, 2008 in Canadian Politics, International Affairs, International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The heartless left

What is it with the ultra-left brahmins of the Globe and the CBC that they so often use their ideological and policy differences with the right as excuses to denigrate, demonize, and dehumanize their conservative opponents? And what hypocrisy this is from the "we are the world," "brotherhood of man," "embrace the differences" types to so distastefully denounce those who do not embrace their world view. Federal Health Minister Tony Clement may be wrong to oppose Vancouver's shoot 'em up centre for heroin addicts, but I suggest that Heather Mallick is absolutely wrong to question Clement's humanity because of his stand.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on August 25, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Operation Sidewinder on target

The story in today's Ottawa Citizen, about a Canadian hero who is dedicated to exposing corruption at the highest levels of Immigration Canada, is an old one but not a tired one. And, coming at a time when relations with China may become an election issue, it's also an especially important one.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on August 25, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Letter of the Day

One need not have read the story to which the following letter, which appears in today's Vancouver Sun, refers to appreciate its main and important point. Enjoy:

Native-owned slaves another chapter in our history

Re: A native journey: Chief Bill Wilson, Celebrating our Diversity, Aug. 21

This is a fascinating article by Chief Bill Wilson about his family's history. While he says "my people and other tribes built this province despite being marginalized, ignored, trampled upon, incarcerated, abused and even killed," he also tells us his people were a warrior tribe, just like the Haida, who roamed the coast at will. He mentions his grandfather tended the smoke house, which he did not trust to his own slaves.

I guess those were the same slaves who were captured when war canoes filled with men attacked their villages, incarcerating, abusing and even killing sons and fathers. How about reading the history of those slaves and how their land was torn from them by their own people? I guess some things are the same, regardless of the colour of your skin.

Barry Miles

North Vancouver

Posted by Terry O'Neill on August 25, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Video killed the radio star in 1979, but don’t tell that to the living dead

I admire entrepreneurs like Newcap Radio chief executive Robert Steele.

Entrepreneurs like Steele create wealth by cooperating with others to solve problems in the furtherance of human happiness. When they do this well...at least when they do this well in a free market, they get rich, and deservedly so.

Politicians, by contrast, destroy wealth through taxation, misallocation and redistribution. They coerce compliance with collectivist schemes and then masquerade as the solution to the very misery they cause. (Perversely, when politicians do this well...at least when they do this well in a mixed economy, they also get rich. I posted recently about Al Gore’s rent-seeking, $100-million carbon fortune and the massive new pay raises given to senior B.C. bureaucrats in another devastating volley in the real class war.)

Under Steele’s leadership, and with the recent purchase of Ontario-based Haliburton Broadcasting, Newcap Radio now owns 72 radio stations, placing the company behind only Astral Media.

It’s exciting growth for a “small Canadian broadcaster” from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but adding new stations is not really the same as adding value. How does Steele expect to continue to meet the news and entertainment needs of consumers in a dying medium?

The Buggles declared the radio star dead in 1979, the victim of the multi-dimensional video. And video today has gone through a staggering evolution with IPods delivering customized mobile content. And then there is satellite radio, now consolidated under the Sirius XM Radio brand. With a quality digital sound, no ads and 24-hours of 120-plus channels, satellite radio is a serious threat to its terrestrial ancestor.

All of this is having an impact on radio listenership and advertising sales, but not as drastic an impact as I would have thought.

A 2007 StatsCan report revealed that “Canadians...spent an average of 18.6 hours a week listening to the radio in the fall of 2006, down 2.6% compared to the 19.1 hours reported in 2005 and 9.3% compared to the peak of 20.5 hours in 1999.” This downward trend in listenership has decreased the growth in radio advertising sales, but not radio station profits.

The StatsCan report shows that “Advertising revenue of commercial radio broadcasters increased by 5.3% in 2006 to reach $1.4 billion. This growth rate was slightly lower than the average of 5.7% for the last five years and much lower than the 8.7% reported in 2005. It must be pointed out that 2005 was a particularly lucrative year for the radio industry, which experienced the sharpest increase in its advertising revenue since 1988.” Slowing radio advertising revenue is worse in the US. “The fact that satellite radio started in Canada later than it did south of the border may have some bearing on this situation,” suggests StatsCan.

Declining advertising sales growth has not meant declining profits for radio stations...not yet anyway. “In 2006, commercial radio generated profits before interest and taxes of $284.0 million, a modest increase of 0.4% compared to 2005, and achieved a profit margin of 20.0%, the third highest in the last 40 years after those of 2005 (+21.0%) and 1971 (+20.5%),” according to the same StatsCan report. Consolidation and rationalization made possible through deregulation has allowed radio stations to stay profitable, something worth remembering when the left complains about media consolidation.

Getting a bigger and bigger share of an increasingly shrinking radio advertising market would seem to have the same future as a strategy to consolidate buggy whip manufacturing in the early 1900s. But if companies like Newcap Radio are free to adapt, they will likely find a way to continue to be relevant to consumers. It will be interesting to watch this industry change over the next decade.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 24, 2008 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Solar-powered airplane sets record

This is really cool.

Three days in the air at 60,000 feet and it doesn't have to carry any fuel source except for the batteries that kept it aloft at night.

But the goal is a solar-powered plane that will stay up for months at a time. Wow.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Canadian shipbuilders can’t bring their bids in on budget. Is a “Buy Canada” policy still practical?

When the federal Conservatives want to bury news, they release it on a Friday evening when the members of the Ottawa press bureau are sharing the week’s gossip over drinks at their favourite pubs frequented by Hill staffers, lobbyist and fellow journalists.

We saw this tactic used recently with the release of the “Final Report On The Administrative Review Into The Security Incident Reported By Maxime Bernier - Classified Documents Left At A Private Residence.” The press release came out late in the afternoon on a Friday before an August long weekend, even though the report was finalized days earlier on July 16th.

The report revealed that Maxime Bernier was not, in fact, responsible for any significant security breach when he left Foreign Affairs briefing notes at his girlfriend’s house. The report vindicated Bernier, as much as that was possible, but the Conservatives did not want any more press on the matter.

On Friday at 8:30 PM (Eastern Time), the government used this tactic again. Public Works Minister Christian Paradis released news that the government is terminating two procurement processes for military ship building contracts being bid on by Canadian shipbuilders.

According to Minister Paradis, “the bid prices exceeded the anticipated costs.”

The government was looking for three new ships for the Canadian Forces and twelve new ships for the Canadian Coast Guard. “These vessels are a key priority of the Government of Canada. However, the government must ensure that Canadian taxpayers receive the best value for their money,” said Minister Paradis.

I admire this move by the Conservatives.

It won’t be a popular decision with nationalists who want to see the government build industrial capacity, especially when it concerns national security. It won’t be popular with the Marine Workers Federation of the CAW either.

Minister Paradis says the government still plans to adhere to its “Buy Canada" policy, but is unclear what will change in the ship building industry to make that possible under the current budget.

If all else fails, why not just outsource our ship building needs to Korea? They're the cheapest shipbuilders in the world.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 23, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

That was fast: McCain's new ad targets Biden and Obama

Maybe they had the ad prepared before Obama's VP announcement. It's a simple piece, using little more than Biden's own words against his new running mate. Biden expressed his mostly negative opinion about Barack Obama during the Democratic primary debates.

What's worse is that, while on the Daily Show (or so I gather), Biden also praised John McCain. The new ad puts the two clips side by side. Here it is:

So Biden said Obama's not ready to be president, but that he would be honored to "run with or against John McCain." Ouch. And then there's Biden's problem with plagiarism...

The New York Times' blog has a little more information regarding the ad.


Heh. Kip Esquire has some other juicy quotes from Biden up on his blog. In 2004, Biden said, "I think that this is time for unity in this country, and maybe it is time to have a guy like John McCain — a Republican — on the ticket with a guy he does like."

Biden was suggesting a Kerry-McCain ticket to beat George W. Bush in the election that year. You know, it wasn't such a bad idea, at least compared to Kerry-Edwards.

He also called Obama "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

Like I said: heh.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Two Elections?

If the speculation about a fall election in Canada turns out to be correct, then this means that we will have two elections around the same time in North America. The last time, I recall two elections almost coinciding was twenty years ago in 1988 when Brian Mulroney was re-elected on a free trade platform and George Bush Sr. was elected on a "read my lips no new taxes" platform. I am not much of a political expert  as many of my co-bloggers and readers, but I think it would be neat to have two elections around the same time.

Posted by Moin A Yahya on August 23, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Joe Biden picked as Obama's VP

That's according to Obama's own website.

A decent article on Senator Biden (Delaware) is here.

Not much of a surprise, although I imagine some Hillary supporters will be feeling a little blue in the morning...

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is that Fish?

The state, supposedly, has a whole apparatus set up to protect consumers against fraud.  Nonetheless, it took two high school students to show that up to a quarter of the fish in New York City is mislabeled. 

So what use is the state then?  Why do we, indeed, need to rely on the state for consumer protection when it clearly has failed us, once again, and the fortuitous curiosity of two teenagers exposed the mislabeling?  Free marketers have long argued that it takes private inspectors who are motivated by profit or fame and reputational quality of producers to best protect the market, rather than bureaucrats who, may be well intentioned, but who lack the proper rewards and punishments.  This story is just another typical example of how the state fails us. 

And yet, the state, on both sides of the border, continues to insist that despite its constant failings (tainted meat anyone?) that it is the sole provider of quality and safety.  It does so by trying to grab more power such as the attempt to regulate herbal and alternative remedies in Bill C-51George Stigler was a famous free-market economist who won the 1982 Nobel Prize.  He developed a theory of regulation known as “regulatory capture,” in which he argued that regulation benefits the regulated industries at the expense of consumers.  These latest events prove him right once again.

Posted by Moin A Yahya on August 22, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Corporate Welfare Alert #2 – Feeling blue over blueberry subsidies

This week, the Conservative government announced $185,000 in funding to the B.C. Blueberry Council to “help ensure a profitable future for British Columbia's blueberry growers.”

The announcement was made by Nina Grewal, Member of Parliament for Fleetwood-Port Kells on behalf of Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. The funding will come through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program.

"Canadian blueberries are enjoyed around the world thanks to the hard work and expertise of our growers," said MP Grewal. "The Government of Canada is committed to the long-term viability of the blueberry industry and is working with farmers to find innovative and sustainable initiatives."

According to Will Van Baalen, Executive Director of the B.C. Blueberry Council, "without this support, many of our research projects and other initiatives would go undone."

So without $185,000 in taxpayer money, important research in blueberry growing would not get done. Hmm. That doesn’t sound right.

There are 450 blueberry growing families in BC. If each family came up with $411, they could replace the loan coming from taxpayers. Is that an impossible amount of money for blueberry farm families to come up with in order to “ensure a profitable future” for their industry? I don’t think so.

I did a quick Google search to get an idea for the value of a blueberry farm. I called the owner of the first property I saw listed, a 70-acre blueberry farm near Langley. It is for sale for $7.7 million.

So is it unfair to ask land-rich blueberry farmers with an industry association in place to finance research and business development that will “ensure a profitable future”? Surely that’s a better solution than making the profits of 450 blueberry farms the responsibility of every taxpayer.

Of course, the latter approach will do little to keep Nina Grewal in office, but maybe that's a good thing for taxpayers.

UPDATE: I got a call tonight from Will Van Baalen, Executive Director of the B.C. Blueberry Council, in response to my question about their membership numbers. The Council has 625 members, which means it would take only $296 per member to replace the $185,000 loan from the federal government.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 22, 2008 in Corporate Welfare Alert | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Syphilis has a long history of afflicting tyrants and thugs. No wonder some Alberta politicians are nervous

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, mobster Al Capone, Adolf Hitler (he needs no introduction) and Russian czar Ivan the Terrible – syphilis afflicted them all.

This disease, normally transmitted sexually, can also afflict the innocent, though. In a recent press release, Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason said “The unnecessary death of five babies due to congenital syphilis is of great concern to all Albertans.” Mason is calling the situation in Alberta a “syphilis epidemic” and wants an emergency meeting of the provincial Health committee to look into the matter.

Mason is alleging that the Alberta government is covering up the problem and that the departure of top public health officials could be connected to this cover up. (Source: Download mason_letter_to_horne.pdf)

Health Minister Ron Liepert denies the claim, and in an email from an Alberta NDP communications staffer, Brookes Merritt, I learnt that no emergency meeting has been called. According to Merritt, Chair of the Standing Committee on Health, Tory MLA Fred Horne, agreed only to deal with the matter at the next scheduled meeting of the Committee.

As to whether or not there is a syphilis epidemic in Alberta, Minister Liepert says the problem is narrowly confined and that high-risk Albertans "have to take more responsibility for their own personal health."

More personal responsibility!? That has a nice ring to it. (Does this mean Liepert will be ushering in an era of more private health care? Albertans looking to "take more responsibility for their own personal health" should hope so.) 

So enjoy what’s left of your summer, Albertans. And if you do notice any open sores, take some penicillin.

Another public service announcement brought to you by the good people at the Western Standard.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 22, 2008 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Taxpayers and PETA-philes agree: corporate welfare stinks

Is a zero-interest federal loan to a Quebec company part of a Tory vote buying scheme? I asked Canadian Taxpayers Federation national director John Williamson.

Should vegetarians be forced to subsidize the meat industry? The PETA-philes say “no.”

And what can be done to improve private sector lending to growing Canadian businesses?  Libertarian Party leader Dennis Young commits to a strategy that could help phase out corporate welfare completely.

Read all of this and more in the latest Western Standard news story “Does it take Tory pork to process pork?” here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 22, 2008 in Corporate Welfare Alert | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

ChiCom-owned bank sued for funding Hamas

The victims of Hamas attacks are suing Bank of China for knowingly funding said attacks - and from the inital looks of things, they have a case.

If said inital look is correct, this could finally expose Beijing as the terrorist-funding/arming regime it has been for decades.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on August 22, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack