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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reason #1745 for men not to get married

Rod and Katia began cohabiting in August 2002. In February 2004, they got married. In December 2005, they separated. They had no children or assets upon separation.

As a wife of 22 months, Katia wanted spousal support, of course. She offered two grounds of entitlement: First, she claimed to have suffered “emotional difficulties” as a result of the separation, which prevented her from working. Second, she claimed that Rod had encouraged her to quit work and continue her studies, making her dependent on him. 

The “emotional difficulties” Katia experienced after the separation were not so great as to prevent her from commencing cohabitation relationship with another man a few months later, having twins by him in April 2007, and obtaining care and custody of the infants. She was not unfit to be a mother; she was only unfit to work.

Katia last worked in 2001, so she quit work long before she was in a cohabitation relationship with Rod. Her “dependence” on him was therefore not a consequence of the relationship, but of her own voluntary choice – a choice which it is contrary to public policy (e.g. employment equity) for the Courts to encourage. Besides, if she had completed her studies between 2001 and 2005, as Rod had “encouraged” her to do, by 2006 she would have been in a position to earn a lot more than the $12,000 she was making in 2001.

But no good deed goes unpunished in our family courts. According to the Federal Spousal Support Guidelines, Katia would be entitled to between $180 and $300 per month for 22 months. But the trial judge awarded Katia $1,500 per month for 5 years, or indefinitely longer if she could not find employment. That is between 5 and 8 times the quantum recommended by the Guidelines, for at least 3 times the duration!

Rod was a young lawyer, earning $60,000 annually. After spousal support, taxes, and the costs of earning a living (vehicle expenses, suits, restaurant meals, parking, etc.), Rod’s disposable income would have been perhaps a tad more than Katia’s under this arrangement. As a young lawyer, he would probably be working 50 or 60 hours a week, while Katia watched soaps and ate bonbons.

The appellate court felt that awarding Katia between 15 and 24 times the recommended amount for spousal support was excessive. So they kept the quantum at $1,500 per month, but reduced the duration to 42 months. This is still between 9 and 16 times the amount recommended by the Guidelines. Even more bizarrely, Rod did not get his costs for the appeal, even though he had a measure of success. In fact, costs of $2,500 were awarded against him because he dared to ask for a stay of the trial judge’s order ending the appeal, and only offered to pay Katia $875 per month in the interim (between 3 and 5 times the Guideline amount).

Posted by Grant Brown on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (26)

Shifty, shifty, look who's fifty

Prime Minister Stephen Harper turns 50-years-old today.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (11)

Liberal Party hopes to build grassroots support at Vancouver convention

Ignatieff speaks to reportersThe Liberal Party of Canada kicked off its policy convention today in Vancouver, hoping to build grassroots support for the party.

The convention began this afternoon with a speech from former Prime Minister John Turner, who talked about the need to increase the level of democracy within the party by allowing party members and riding associations to vote on policy.

"This party will not be built from the top-down, this party will be rebuilt again from the bottom-up," said Turner, who also called for candidates and riding executives to be democratically elected, instead of appointed by the leader.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff agreed that most candidates should be elected through nominations, but refused to give up his power to appoint candidates in key ridings.

"I want open nominations in every riding in the country. I want to rebuild this party from the grassroots-up, but I cannot abandon the prerogative of our leader to make those appointments that I deem necessary," said Ignatieff. "I want to use the power of appointment as rarely as I possibly can because I respect the grassroots of this party and I know I can't rebuild this party unless it's from the bottom-up."

Despite all the talk of giving more control to party members, the structure of the convention leaves much to be desired.

Ignatieff will be confirmed as party leader without needing to go through a leadership race, as his rivals dropped out of the race shortly after Stephane Dion stepped down as leader after a failed attempt to form a coalition and overthrow the government in December.

Tom Chervinsky is running for the position of VP External in the Young Liberals of Canada and does not see a contradiction with trying to build grassroots support for the party while denying its members the right to democratically elect a leader.

"It's not a lack of a leadership race, we've got a great leader whose brought a lot," said Chervinsky. "Of course it's democratic, people are welcome to run. We made a choice as a community that we weren't going to play into the hand that Stephen Harper tried to deal us of fighting amongst ourselves."

Delegates will have the opportunity to vote for their new leader, but Ignatieff will be the only name on the ballot. Conference organizers say they are allowing members to vote in order to give them a voice, but admit the process is largely symbolic.

View Delegates are also limited in the number of policy proposals they can discuss and vote on. The party held a number of online workshops last month and chose approximately 30 policy proposals to be debated at the convention. The resolutions range from expanding the size and scope of the Canadian Human Rights Commission to creating a carbon tax or cap and trade system to meet Canada's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

The resolutions, however, are not binding on the party, which has created concerns that there is little point to the convention and that it is structured in a way that undermines the party's grassroots, despite what the party elite have been saying.

The Liberal convention runs from April 30 to May 2 at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. Organizers say they are expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 people to attend the convention throughout the weekend.

Posted by Jesse Kline on April 30, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

Hot Room Live: Immigration Debate


Immigration policy will be on the front-burner of the Hot Room tonight. We will be joined by Kathy Shaidle, author and blogger, and Renee Stephens, former NDP candidate for Kingston.

We'll be taking your calls and we'll be streaming right here, from the Shotgun Blog.

Live Video streaming by Ustream

Posted by Mike Brock on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Proposed human rights legislation “very disturbing” says ethics Foundation

The Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership will raise serious concerns about Bill 44 amendments to Alberta's human rights legislation at a press conference on Monday, May 4.

According to the Foundation, both the substance of the Bill and the process that produced it are deeply flawed:

• Bill 44 fails to deal with section 3 of the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act to better protect free speech.
• The introduction of a clause allowing parents to remove their children from school lessons dealing with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation is a slippery slope to legal and administrative chaos.
• Procedural protections needed to ensure that people accused of illegal discrimination receive a fair hearing are entirely missing from Bill 44.
• The government did not fully consider the implications of the proposed legislation or undertake sufficient public consultation and legal study prior to introducing Bill 44.

Janet Keeping and Dan Shapiro will be speaking on behalf of the Foundation.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (5)

More on Coalition 2: The Reckoning

From Aaron Wherry at Macleans:

Stephen Harper, Dec. 1.“I would certainly not want to find myself governing this economy today in a situation that required me to follow socialist economics and to be at the behest of a veto of the separatists.”

James Moore, heckling Gilles Duceppe, Dec. 1. “Traitor!”

Stephen Harper, Dec. 2. “The Canadian people made a choice to elect the Conservative Party to govern, without the support of the separatists.”

Dean Del Mastro, heckling Jack Layton, Dec. 3. “Jack, you’re a traitor.”

Stephen Harper, Dec. 3. “The Liberal Party leader proposes to help the economy by signing a pact with the Quebec sovereignists to govern the country. This is not a plan to improve the economy; it is a plan to destroy this country, which is why he should withdraw his proposal.”

Canadian Press, tonight. “The Harper government has sketched out a road map that would see it avoid an election in this recession year and survive to bask in the glory of the 2010 Olympic Games … The Tories need to stave off defeat in confidence votes until then and are considering ways to secure support from the NDP and Bloc Quebecois on a case-by-case basis … The Bloc will table its own list of economic demands Thursday, and they have been pushing for EI changes as well as a tax-harmonization deal for Quebec One senior Conservative said there will be plenty of ways for the parties to work together. ‘We’re hopeful they’d want to work with us. … Maybe cooler heads will prevail,’ he said.”

h/t: Ker

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Swine flu update: The government is here to help

Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, issued a statement today on the human swine influenza advising Canadians against non-essential travel to Mexico:

"It is important to remind Canadians that Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to Mexico. However, Canadians considering travel there should consult the department's Travel Report for Mexico and its Global Issues website on human swine influenza. These websites include links to the Travel Health Warning issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

"I encourage Canadians in Mexico to register with the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada registration service. This service enables Canadian government offices abroad to provide Canadians in their region with important information."

So now is not the time to pick up one of those cheap Mexico vacation packages? Gotcha.

The Alberta government is reporting four more mild cases of the influenza, all young adults from Calgary who recently returned from a trip to Mexico. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Alberta to six, all of which were mild.

So a bunch of young people came back from Mexico feeling sick? That does sound unusual.

Republican congressman Ron Paul weighs into the debate with this cautionary message against an overreaction from government:

Finally, in a column published in the Western Standard here, Dr. Stephen Murgatroyd thinks you should chill out and wash your hands.

This has been another sceptical public service announcement brought to you by the Western Standard.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Oh noes, not a coalition!!!!

I've written before about my feelings about using a dead coalition pioneered by Stephane Dion as a scapegoat for everything the Conservatives have been doing wrong since the last election.

So I took notice and was annoyed a few weeks ago when Tom Flanagan posited that, were Michael Ignatieff to get the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to vote with him to bring down the Harper government, he would, in essence, be "reactivat[ing] the coalition with the socialists and separatists against which Canadians reacted so strongly last fall."

So what, oh what, am I supposed to think about the Conservatives now looking for support from the "socialists and the separatists" to get their government through next winter?

This story has some commentary on the situation:

... didn't Stephen Harper once say something about the inadvisability of getting into bed with the socialists and separatists?

Like: "My friends, such an illegitimate government would be a catastrophe, for our democracy, our unity and our economy, especially at a time of global instability."

Why yes! I think he did.

To be clear: I don't think that this is a coalition, but if I actually believed the Conservatives' rhetoric on this stuff, I would. That's why it's so funny, and that's why I'm enjoying this way too much.

h/t: Ker

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Dolphin checks in on the print 'flu'

CanWest Global (née Southam) is, as most of you will know, tottering on the rim of the toilet. Seems like that curse I threw CanWest's way in 2003 when those spineless (expletive deleted) fired me for upsetting the Indian industry is having its effect.

With CanWest's share price down to around 25 cents (from $20 in 2000), a debt-load of $4 billion dollars, and the creditors unlikely to extend the latest deadline for repayment beyond May 5, it looks like curtains for the house that Southam built. Good on Conrad Black for unloading that turkey on Izzy Asper when it was just an egg for $3.2 billion. Conrad's bloviations in Saturday's National Post notwithstanding ("...the great newspaper trademarks and some of the long-ingrained habits of newspaper reading, should prove to be durable..."), it is obvious that he read the writing on the wall that the late Izzy missed. Izzy's sons and heirs, who bought Alliance Atlantis' specialty TV channels (Showcase, History. Food Network and a few others) for $2.7 billion at the peak of the market in early 2007, unwittingly multiplied the misery.

One is only left to wonder which of the pieces of the doomed corporation will be picked up and by whom? Too bad that the Post will probably be one of the unprofitable pieces no one wants. It was nice to have at least one conservative newspaper for those whose lips don't move when they read...

To read the rest of my latest posting, please go to www.dolphin.com.

Posted by Ric Dolphin on April 30, 2009 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Night the Prime Minister Purged Libertarians from Canadian Conservatism

Terence Corcoran has written on the speech Harper delivered at the Manning Centre conference in March. Shotgun bloggers have covered this multiple times, and it's nice to have Corcoran weighing in as well. From the column:

What followed was Mr. Harper’s conscious rebuke of libertarianism. In fact, more words were spent undermining libertarians than Liberals. Libertarians, he said, “believe that the solution to all problems lays in less government. More specifically, they believe in individual freedom, freedom from government, the freedom that does in fact underlie the market economy.”

The essence of Mr. Harper’s conservatism is that it is a happy middle ground between two undesirable extremes, the small-government push of libertarianism and the big-government push of Liberalism. This middle ground is based on “conservative values,” which he defined by the three “Fs” — freedom, faith and family. Freedom, he said, can only exist if it is “used well,” as if to achieve public good.

Mr. Harper’s attempt to purge libertarians from Canadian conservatism reached its lowest point when he pretty much blamed libertarianism for the economic crisis. Wall Street, he implied mockingly, was the heart of libertarianism, and Wall Street and the libertarian free market tanked the economy.

... As if Wall Street bankers were libertarians. Worse, as if Wall Street bankers were libertarians who deserved to have their banks nationalized and their compensation controlled by government.

Do libertarians pose some kind of threat to the Harper Conservatives? Apparently they do, judging by Mr. Harper’s attempt to eliminate them from the party. And he might be right.

(Emphasis mine.)

Obviously libertarians (and fiscal conservatives, who had as much of a right to be upset as libertarians, imho) got the message. There was outrage all 'round.

Partisan Tories, though, often wonder how we could think Harper would think anything different. It's not as though we're talking about a guy who's ever said that, say, "all taxes are bad," or "I'm very libertarian in the sense that I believe in small government and, as a general rule, I don't believe in imposing values upon people."

Stephen Harper knew better and still knows better than the nonsense he was spewing at the Manning Centre conference. I have an awfully hard time believing he will ever find redemption from those he denounced in that speech, and I don't think he would deserve it if he did.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (19)

Bureaucracy Chinese Style

When of the world's great languages meets one of the world's most bureaucratic governments, something's gotta give.  When the bureaucracy in question is that of the People's Republic of China, no prizes for guessing who wins.

Ma Cheng’s book-loving grandfather came up with an elegant solution to this common problem. Twenty-six years ago, when his granddaughter was born, he combed through his library of Chinese dictionaries and lighted upon a character pronounced “cheng.” Cheng, which means galloping steeds, looks just like the character for horse, except that it is condensed and written three times in a row.

The character is so rare that once people see it, Miss Ma said, they tend to remember both her and her name. That is one reason she likes it so much.

That is also why the government wants her to change it.

For Ma Cheng and millions of others, Chinese parents’ desire to give their children a spark of individuality is colliding head-on with the Chinese bureaucracy’s desire for order. Seeking to modernize its vast database on China’s 1.3 billion citizens, the government’s Public Security Bureau has been replacing the handwritten identity card that every Chinese must carry with a computer-readable one, complete with color photos and embedded microchips. The new cards are harder to forge and can be scanned at places like airports where security is a priority.

I like the phrase "where security is a priority."  It's dictatorship, security is always and everywhere the priority.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4)

“Please bring me my machine gun!”

Like a slow-motion version of Rhodesia:

This behavior is a tiny sample of the general arrogance of the ANC, an arrogance that has helped to engender a new and serious challenge to its power. More tribe than party, it has for years been the only serious political formation in supposedly democratic South Africa. All major black African factions, and some white ones, have existed inside it, keeping their disagreements more or less to themselves. Influencing all has been the Communist Party, deeply embedded and entangled in the ANC structure.

In the days of Soviet power, it happily supported every grotesque show trial, Red Army invasion, and KGB repression that was available and would have supported more if asked. Its complete devotion to the Kremlin, and its leading position in the ANC, was one of the main reasons for the long survival of the repulsive Apartheid system. Western powers feared that the end of Apartheid would necessarily mean the establishment of a Soviet satellite on the strategic southern tip of Africa, in possession of its gold and diamond fields and much else besides. That is why the USSR had to fall before Apartheid did.

Ronald Reagan freed Nelson Mandela?  Just let that thought sink in.  

The mirror image was almost complete. The Soviet Union aided the ANC with money and training. Many of its leading figures—including Jacob Zuma —spent time in Moscow or East Germany being “trained,” presumably in things other than how to run a multiparty democracy with an unfettered press and a free economy. Zuma later became a formidable senior officer in Spear of the Nation, the ANC’s often ruthless armed wing, and questions about his conduct there remain unanswered. To this day, the ANC elite maintains close relations with regimes and movements—Havana, Libya, the PLO—that took Moscow’s side in the global Cold War.

Shiny and happy.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (12)

Lament for the Rags

Lord Black on the grand theater of newspapers past:

In the 20th century, the newspaper became the principal engine of political controversy, evolving social tastes and dramatic breaking news. Even after the rise of radio and television, the newspaper continued to be the home of influential columnists, from Walter Lippmann and the Alsops to Heda Hopper and Louella Parsons, and was the place where opinion was whipped up for every cause, from saving Chicago from Al Capone to chronicling Elvis Presley's life as a GI. The film industry, live theatre and literature, such as the works of Damon Runyan, made the slouch-hatted, hard-drinking, crusading newspaper reporter a folk figure of the culture.

The drinking remains, the crusading is more about the trivial irritations of daily life, the hats sadly are gone. Reading Black's description one can't help but be struck by the genuine love he feels for papers.  Does anyone love blogs or online media content in such a way?  Is their a romance to blogging?  Perhaps the lack of tactile connection makes it impossible. 

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4)

In the Hot Room Tonight: Immigration


Listen live by clicking right here. Right now.

Immigration policy will be on the front-burner of the Hot Room tonight. We will be joined by Kathy Shaidle, author and blogger, and Renee Stephen, former NDP candidate for Kingston.

We'll be taking your calls and we'll be streaming right here, from the Shotgun Blog.

Posted by Mike Brock on April 30, 2009 in WS Radio | Permalink | Comments (77)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Designer candidate Danielle Smith should worry drifting Alberta Tories

If you were in the business of designing the perfect conservative candidate, you would be hard pressed to do better than Danielle Smith.

Looking for media savvy? Danielle Smith was the host of Global Sunday, a conservative television newsmagazine, from 2003 to 2005.

Want a candidate with policy depth? Danielle Smith was the executive director of the Canadian Property Rights Research Institute and has deep ties to the Fraser Institute.

Need someone with a Rolodex of potential corporate donors? As the outgoing director of provincial affairs for Alberta of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Danielle Smith likely knows every independent business leader in the province.

How about a candidate with a little sex appeal? Danielle Smith is an attractive 30-something female with a dazzling smile and an infectious laugh. She’s got the charisma outgoing Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman insists he doesn’t have, an unfair personal assessment from a humble and decent man.

Along with that sex appeal, you would want a candidate who is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n rock…someone with the sophistication to appeal to an increasingly urban, ethnically-diverse Alberta population and with the authenticity to appeal to rural voters. Danielle Smith looks like a big city candidate, but has spent a good part of her advocacy career working on rural issues like endangered species legislation and other land owner issues.

And if you were in the business of designing the perfect candidate to draw support away from a drifting conservative party, you would also want that person to be a true believer, a genuine conservative who could ignite passion among grassroots activists. Danielle Smith again meets that expectation. She speaks with insight and authentic emotion about a pro-freedom agenda for the province founded on property rights, the essential component of a truly free society.

Danielle Smith is expected to announce her intention to run to replace Paul Hinman as the new leader of the fledgling Wildrose Alliance. The party’s annual convention and leadership vote will take place on the first weekend of June, and buzz is growing around her likely candidacy.

Danielle Smith is exactly the kind of fresh, principled leader Alberta conservatives have been waiting for.

With the support of former MLA and party leader Hinman, star candidate Link Byfield and the rest of the growing Wildrose Alliance team of capable, passionate activists, Danielle Smith could be the first serious threat to Tory dominance in Alberta.

Ed Stelmach, Alberta’s accidental premier, should take note.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (15)

BC STV: Bill Tieleman, president of 'No STV', makes his case

STV is the single transferable vote.  It's on the ballot here in BC on May 12th.  Voters will be asked to choose between the existing 'First Past the Post' system, and 'BC STV'.

Last Friday we spoke with Bruce Hallsor, co-chair of the BC STV 'Yes' campaign -- to ask him to address the concerns libertarian-minded voters might have with the new system.  You can read that interview here.

This week we spoke with Bill Tieleman, head of the 'No' campaign.  To begin with, we asked him for a Twitter summary of the case against BC STV:

Bill Tieleman, president of the 'No STV' campaign (BT): We oppose BC STV because it creates giant ridings of up to 7 MLAs and 350,000 people that takes away the local accountability and responsibility of MLAs to voters.

The Western Standard (WS): From your perspective is this referendum going to be an uphill battle, or do you believe that you already have the votes to win?

BT: We believe we can win the referendum again, as we did in 2005.  The double majority threshold of 60% in favour across the province and 60% of all ridings voting in favour as well is a difficult but fair test for such an important referendum.

WS: Do you believe that limits on third party advertising during the campaign are effecting your chances of winning?

BT: No.  Each side has $500,000 for advertising provided by the province plus the ability to raise more money.

WS: How will STV effect the Recall and Initiative act, and will it raise the already high barrier blocking many citizen initiatives?

BT: We do not believe it will have any impact at all.  Changing the Act would require a legislative majority regardless of the electoral system.

WS: If STV loses this time around, do you believe that it will be brought forward again, or is this our 'last chance' to get electoral reform?

BT: We believe that rejecting STV this time would ensure it does not come back again.  But that also opens up the possibility of different electoral reform.  Some of No STV’s members and supporters believe that there are better electoral systems than either First Past The Post or STV, such as Mixed Member Proportional or Proportional Representation List systems.  If STV is passed, however, it will be locked in for a recommended minimum of three elections – that means 12 years with our four-year fixed election dates – so BC would be stuck with STV until at least 2025 – that’s a long time with a bad system.

WS: Wherever we see proportional representation, we also see a proportionally large state.  Possibly this is due to the presence of smaller hinge parties and the brokering that involves when it comes time to form a coalition.  How do you address the worry that libertarians may have, that proportional representation will mean bigger government?

BT: We take no position on whether or not proportional representation should be introduced – No STV is a coalition whose sole purpose is to defeat STV.  That said, an STV system would like incur larger costs for government due to the large ridings requiring additional offices and staff in order to attempt to represent voters over much larger areas, particularly when there may be no MLA responsible for those areas.

WS: Finally, Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about BC STV?

BT: STV’s complicated voting system “fractionalizes” your vote, chopping it up into many pieces so that you will never know exactly where it went – another reason to oppose STV.

STV’s proponents claims are simply inaccurate in many cases.  For example, Malta has had STV since the 1920s and has not elected a single third party representative to its parliament since the 1960s nor an independent since the 1950s – yet STV advocates claim it helps smaller parties and independents get elected.  Given that only two countries with less than 1/10th of 1 per cent of the world’s voters use STV as their national electoral system – Malta and Ireland – the example of that country is very important.

STV proponents also claim STV takes away “safe seats” from legislators – in fact, Ireland has TDs -  members of their parliament, the Dail – who have been elected for 30, 40 , 50 and almost 60 years straight!  And claims that STV creates a “cooperative” legislature and removes party “control” are equally wrong.  Irish politics are among the nastiest and most party-dominated in the democratic world.

We encourage your readers to visit www.nostv.org for much more information.

The third part of our STV series will be here next week.

Posted by Robert Jago on April 29, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (12)

Vancouver libertarians to rally for the 26th Annual Tax Protest Day

British Columbia Libertarian Party president Paul Geddes will lead the 26th Annual Tax Protest Day in Vancouver on Thursday outside of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offices.

The event is organized each year by the West Coast Libertarian Foundation and is in its 26th successful year.

Geddes says the annual event is intended to encourage Canadians to learn more about the tax system and to complain about the heavy burden taxes place on individuals and families.

Paul Geddes is #64 on the Western Standard's Liberty 100.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The last Post?

The National Post's weekend crew will be taking the summer off starting June 1, a cost-cutting decision that will deprive readers of their Monday editions.

Let's see: one edition of six means subscribers will be getting 16.6% fewer papers than they paid for. Will there be a 16.6% refund of their summer payments? Not likely, given parent CanWest's $3.9-billion debt.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on April 29, 2009 in Media | Permalink | Comments (10)

Ban skateboards, build skateboard parks: the schizophrenic state at work in Alberta

Students are St. Francis High School in Calgary are revolting. They’re also quite opposed to a ban on skateboards at their school.

800 students have signed a petition demanding the school remove its ban on skateboards.

Skateboarding isn’t allowed on school property, probably for liability reasons, but this ban prevents students from even skateboarding to school and then leaving their skateboards in their lockers.

Calgary Catholic School board spokesperson Janet Sutherland said “The policy is in place for students' safety, not because the skateboard can be a weapon as reported. We have had instances where students have gotten hurt riding skateboards.”

Gotten hurt riding skateboards?

No students have been hurt riding bicycles to school? No students have been hurt on public transit, perhaps by bullies? No students have been hurt in gym class, for that matter?

Why does the Alberta government spend millions in tax dollars to build skateboard parks only to tolerate a ban on skateboards in public schools because students might get hurt? You can’t get hurt on a government built quarter pipe or grind bench?

This is an absurd policy that deserves to be overturned. I wish the students at St. Francis High School the best of luck in their fight against the schizophrenic state. (No offense is implied here toward schizophrenics.)

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (16)

Paul Sullivan defends Craigslist against “moralists." Does he go far enough?

The murder of 25-year-old erotic masseuse Julissa Brisman, who advertised her illicit services on Craigslist, has created an opening for the usual crowd of meddlers to demand that the free, online classified ad provider remove its erotic ads section, a section containing ads you’ll find in any newspaper or phone book for services you'll find in any major city.

(A recent Reason magazine study showed that Las Vegas has the highest number of prostitutes openly advertising on Craigslist suggesting lax enforcement in Sin City. El Paso, Texas has the least ads per capita for prostitutes, suggesting the opposite according to Reason.)

On April 25th, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark stated Craigslist would not remove the ‘erotic' section from its website, despite complaints from law enforcement and the aforementioned meddlers.

Paul Sullivan, a Vancouver-based journalist and owner of Sullivan Media Consulting, defends this decision by Craigslist in a column in today’s Metro:

So Newmark is not going to get a lot of sympathy in the media. Except here. It seems to me if he has to shut down his erotic ads, all the traditional media who continue to subsist desperately on their own erotic ad sections will have to do the same.

But that’s not good enough. There are still plenty of homicidal perverts lurking in the shadows cast by bricks and mortar … and trees. So, just to be safe, let’s shut down the bars, the schoolyards and the parks.

That should do it.

Newmark will get some sympathy here, as well. Banning erotic ads from Craigslist will not keep sex trade workers safe; legalizing prostitution would...or at least it would help, but you're not likely to hear that from law enforcement.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (15)

Rebates ≠ tax cuts

We seem to have angered some Hudak supporters by alleging that his rebate programs would not constitute tax cuts.

This is puzzling to me, since all rebate programs proposed by Liberals are opposed as "big government socialism!" or something like that by Conservatives, but when it's a Tory policy, it's a tax cut.

In the comments of Hugh's post on whether Hudak is the new Tory, someone asked how a rebate is any different than a tax cut. The argument is that at the end of the day you end up with more of your money (true, though you also end up with more of mine) and therefore you are paying fewer taxes (false).

Tax cuts are when everyone sends less money to the government, not when the government benevolently decides to send some of it back.

Consider this comparison: What if Dalton McGuinty had called his handouts right before the next election (convenient, isn't it?) a "sales tax rebate" to help increase economic activity while Ontario's economy adjusts to a harmonized sales tax? Would supporters of Conservative rebates suddenly support McGuinty's handout? I doubt it. And they shouldn't! It's awful, blatant vote buying that everyone should oppose. They shouldn't oppose it less when the vote buying panders to some (Conservative-supporting) demographics over others. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, support for these ideas comes from nothing other than who's announcing them in politics, and I have no patience for that sort of inconsistency.

That said, I do have more tolerance for some of these social programs than others. I blogged this morning about having mixed feelings about Elliott announcing she would increase the tax rebates for charitable donations. I said I have mixed feelings there - I don't like the government encouraging any kind of behaviour, even good behaviour - and my feelings were mixed only because of her kind words towards the effectiveness of charities over government.

But encouraging people to make charitable donations is a lot more excusable (in my opinion, anyway) than encouraging people who, for whatever reason, have decided not to have children or to have them yet to have them in spite of the fact that they might not be able to afford it or don't want to make the sacrifices you should make if you're having children. If you're not ready for kids, the government shouldn't be trying to push them down your throat, and so I have no qualms about going after Hudak for that nonsense here.

At any rate, if Tim Hudak is in favour of lower taxes and that's why you're supporting him, that's fantastic. Perhaps you should encourage him to announce it.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tim Hudak announces new goals for education

I'm impressed to see that any provincial leadership candidate is willing to touch education with a ten-foot pole after the whole, you know, faith-based funding thing. Honestly, I wasn't expecting it.

Tim Hudak, Ontario PC leadership candidate, has announced some minor changes that he would make, mostly in the goals of the education system rather than any kind of substantial reform. The press release is titled "Supporting families through quality education," which really left me with high hopes that maybe, just maybe, there would be some acknowledgment that parents might know where the best place to send their kids is (vouchers!) but since any education announcement is a surprise, I suppose I can't be too disappointed to not see major changes. It's not like I should expect that after, say, taking French for five years in public school, the students be able to actually *speak* it.

Anyway, here are the proposed education goals from Hudak's website:

So there you go. All of those are probably good ideas. No strong feelings from my end on any of it, I just thought I'd let y'all know what's up.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 29, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Christine Elliott would double the provincial charitable tax credits

Christine Elliott announced today that she would double the amount that Ontarians can claim for charitable donations over $200. From her website:

Elliott says she would increase the rate of provincial charitable tax credit for donations over $200 from 11 percent to 22 percent, bringing the combined federal and provincial tax credit from 40 percent to 51 percent.

I do have some mixed feelings about subsidizing charitable donations, but really I'm not going to get all up in the business of politicians trying to encourage charitable donations, especially when there are much more important, discriminatory and economically ridiculous policies to worry about. And even more when the sentiment is something like this:

Elliott believes that local charities benefiting from this policy can often be more effective than government at delivering much-needed assistance to Ontarians.

“This measure would strengthen the volunteer organizations and community groups who do the things that are very challenging for governments to accomplish,” said Elliott.

It is nice to hear a politician admit every once in a while that maybe they can't solve all of our problems.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 29, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

God is Back

Well religion anyway:

As we all know, it didn’t happen that way. Modernity arrived and improvised new starring roles for God. The Americans led the way by becoming both “the quintessentially modern country” and a very devout one, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge write in their new book, “God Is Back,” and most of the world has followed that model. In rich countries and poorer ones, democratic and undemocratic, primarily Islamic and primarily Christian — everywhere, basically, except Europe — devotion to God has remained surprisingly robust.


The market that niche religious leaders stepped into was the hole opened up by modernity, and their product was something the authors call “soulcraft.” Instead of raging against modern life, they sold themselves as easing the way for the harried middle class. Church became a place to form social bonds, get dates, meet fellow moms isolated in suburbia, lose weight. Christian America spawned a parallel world of popular culture, with books and movies telling people how to live meaningful lives. The most popular, like Rick Warren’s “Purpose-Driven Life,” perfectly mirrored the can-do ethos of American success culture.

Or as Tocqueville put it:

The American ministers of the Gospel do not attempt to draw or to fix all the thoughts of man upon the life to come; they are willing to surrender a portion of his heart to the cares of the present, seeming to consider the goods of this world as important, though secondary, objects. If they take no part themselves in productive labor, they are at least interested in its progress and they applaud its results, and while they never cease to point to the other world as the great object of the hopes and fears of the believer, they do not forbid him honestly to court prosperity in this. Far from attempting to show that these things are distinct and contrary to one another, they study rather to find out on what point they are most nearly and closely connected.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (22)

Chavez in a Skirt

It will take some time for Cristina Fernandez Kirchner to comprehensively wreck the Argentinian economy.  At which point she will become the darling of the Left.  In the meantime, there are those pesky domestic critics:

"All Argentines have the right to expression and to cultural assets that can't be monopolized by one sector or one company," she said as she launched a draft reform bill last month.
The reform would limit the number of broadcast licenses one company can hold locally and nationally, increase the number of soccer games shown on free channels instead of pay-TV, and guarantee a share of the airwaves for nonprofit groups.
Many people in the industry agree with the need to overhaul archaic regulations to reflect the huge technological changes of the last 25 years.
But opponents say the reform is ill-conceived, badly timed and aims to pressure the media to tone down its criticism in the run-up to a June 28 mid-term election seen as a referendum on Fernandez's turbulent 16 months in office.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Peter Thiel on why democracy and freedom don't mix

Peter Thiel is the billionaire co-founder of PayPal who made a fortune as one of the earliest investors in Facebook. He was also the executive produce of one of my all-time favorite movies, Thank You For Smoking. As a libertarian, he pledged $500,000 to Patri Friedman's Seasteading Institute.

Recently, Cato Unbound, the Cato Institute's blog, published an essay Thiel wrote, one that is causing a bit of a stir both within and outside the libertarian community. The essay describes the way Thiel's attitude toward libertarianism has changed, and why he has ceased to believe that "democracy and freedom are compatible." Excerpts are below, but the whole piece is worth a read.

As a young lawyer and trader in Manhattan in the 1990s, I began to understand why so many become disillusioned after college. The world appears too big a place. Rather than fight the relentless indifference of the universe, many of my saner peers retreated to tending their small gardens. The higher one’s IQ, the more pessimistic one became about free-market politics — capitalism simply is not that popular with the crowd. Among the smartest conservatives, this pessimism often manifested in heroic drinking; the smartest libertarians, by contrast, had fewer hang-ups about positive law and escaped not only to alcohol but beyond it.

One of the passages that is causing the most consternation outside the libertarian community is this one, another expression of pessimism:

The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.

This is, for sure, a provocative statement. But first, we should turn to Thiel's optimism for the future. It's not an optimism rooted in the hope of political change, at least within the United States.

The critical question then becomes one of means, of how to escape not via politics but beyond it. Because there are no truly free places left in our world, I suspect that the mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country...

For Thiel, getting "beyond politics" involves turning to (1) Cyberspace, (2) Outer Space, and (3) Seasteading. These are three arenas in which a libertarian politics might be possible. But real libertarian change will never occur in our ossifying "capitalist" democracies. Democracy and liberty simply do not mix.

If not for Thiel's comments about democracy -- and, specifically, the extension of the franchise to women -- it is unlikely his essay would even have been read outside the libertarian community. That's not a knock on the essay itself, but just an observation about the way both liberals and conservatives typically ignore libertarian ideas.

Well, at least the left is reading and responding. The folks at Gawker shamelessly misrepresent Thiel's claims: "Facebook Backer Wishes Women Couldn't Vote", the headline reads. At Salon, Michael Lind proposes an idea:

Thiel could use his leverage as a donor to combine the Seasteading Institute with the Methuselah Foundation and create a make-believe island where girls aren't allowed to vote and where nobody ever has to grow up. Call it Neverland. It would be easy for libertarian refugees from the United States and the occasional neo-Confederate to find it.

As should probably be expected, feminist bloggers are responding the most harshly. According to Amanda Marcotte, the sloppy thinker and rejected "chief blogger" for John Edwards presidential campaign, Thiel is a "complete wackaloon and apparently a misogynist besides.  Which is to say, he’s a libertarian."

Like the Gawker folks, Marcotte claims that Thiel "pretty openly states that he’d like to disenfranchise women and 'welfare' recipients, which I guess is a way of saying that voting is only acceptable if the franchise is limited to the landed gentry." Except, of course, Thiel didn't say that, openly or otherwise. But it's a standard tactic of this particular feminist bigot to put words into the mouths of political opponents or at least to present their arguments without the least amount of charity. The post at feministing is slightly -- slightly -- more balanced.

Still, I've found that "popular feminist blogger" is just another term for someone who is both a rather poor reasoner and completely unfamiliar with the principle of charity. Which is not to say that all feminists fit this description.

(Give them a break: they're typically sociology majors.)

In fact, there is nothing misogynistic about his comments at all. To compare, African-Americans were somewhat more likely to vote for Proposition 8 than whites. Pointing that out doesn't make me a racist, even given my opinion that the passage of Proposition 8 was a terrible thing. Pointing out that women have sometimes been more likely to support anti-libertarian policies -- the prohibition of alcohol comes to mind -- doesn't make a person a misogynist. Nor does it mean that the person making the observation desires to disenfranchise women or African-Americans.

So what's Thiel saying? Simply put, he wishes more people supported libertarian policies. However, the majority -- who, in the U.S. pay no income taxes at all* -- are content to exploit Thiel. That's not a situation that will change any time soon. After all, in the short-term, those people are getting a pretty good deal.

But I don't blame Thiel for wanting to leave. If you care about liberty, then democracy is hopeless.

* I know that the people who don't pay income tax still pay other taxes. But social security is supposed to be an investment in one's own future (it's an insurance program, after all.) As far as sale taxes go, Thiel pays those, too. The point remains: Thiel is getting ripped off.

Posted by Terrence Watson on April 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (33)

Is Tim Hudak the new John Tory?

It is incredible how quickly things change in politics. A couple of months ago I would have thought that Tim Hudak and John Tory had very little in common. Mr. Hudak was a strong fiscal conservative with a populist tinge, and John Tory was a big government party elitist. But now in the middle of a leadership campaign Mr. Hudak is looking more and more like John Tory.

Consider John Tory in 2004. The party had just suffered a humiliating defeat in the polls and John Tory was the man to the rescue. Everyone billed him as the person most likely to return the PCs to their formal glory. Mr. Tory entered the race as the front runner and he kept his lead to victory.

Then of course he was a disaster. Far from being the party’s saviour he led the PCs into humiliation after humiliation. The problem wasn’t the organization, though it was weak, and the problem wasn’t even the man, for he was popular personally. The problem was the message. John Tory failed to provide anything that was substantially different than the Liberals.

Now take a look at Mr. Hudak. The supposed fiscal conservative has released policy that would make any true fiscal conservative cringe. All of his ideas aren’t about cutting bureaucracy or truly slashing taxes. They are all about government interference. Tim Hudak has become the subsidies candidate.

Just like the Liberals he wants the government to decide who the winner is and who the loser is. Just like the Liberals Tim Hudak thinks that the state can engineer a better society.

So here we are. Once again we have a ‘saviour’ front runner with a message that is awfully similar to the McGuinty Liberals. The only question is: will the PC Party membership make the same mistake twice?

(or thrice considering Ernie Eves)

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on April 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (17)

Questions about proposed changes to Alberta’s human rights legislation: Does the shakedown continue?

The Western Standard reported today here that the Alberta government has tabled proposed changes to the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act. The changes would increase the power of the province's controversial human rights laws and add protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to the scope of the legislation, along with parental rights over the education of children.

The Western Standard has several calls into Shawna Cass, a communications officer for Culture and Community Spirit, for clarification on key points of the proposed amendment to the Act.

For instance: 

If discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not protected by the existing Act, on what basis was Alberta pastor Stephen Boisson prosecuted for expressing opposition to homosexuality?

Also, how will parental rights over the education of children be reconciled with the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected status under the Act should parents object to school curricula that includes homosexual material, for instance?

Since there is no mention of amending the Act to protect free speech and expression, must we conclude sadly that sections of the Act governing print publications have been left in place? Provisions of the Act that allowed for the human rights complaint against the Western Standard for a 2006 decision to publish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad are presumably still in place, despite Ezra Levant’s book Shakedown: How the Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights and the national uproar it has generated over eroding freedom of speech and expression in Canada.

Once we have the answers to these questions, Western Standard readers will be immediately updated.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (14)

Tim Hudak misunderstands the word "fair"

Tim Hudak has made a few policy announcements on government subsidies to families. From his announcement:

I know this will appeal to some of social conservatives who are less concerned with simplifying the tax code or economic efficiency, but I think it's flat-out nonsense, and anyone concerned with economic liberty should, too.

Labeling income splitting as "tax fairness" is absurd. What it is is a complicated subsidy program where people who are not having children or staying at home when they could be working are forced to pay a higher tax rate in order to pay for the lifestyles of others. If this is fair then so are all sorts of tax credits and subsidy schemes for the arts, culture, and green technology that lots of Conservatives oppose.

It is not unfair that a couple is taxed at a different rate than a person making the same amount as their combined incomes. There are costs and benefits to staying at home, and to those who decide to stay at home (or take a less well-paying job), the benefits simply outweigh the costs. They are already staying home for a reason and we don't need to compensate them for their decision.

If you are concerned about tax fairness, flattening the tax system is the way to go. Government shouldn't waste time and money picking winners and losers, whether it's in the economy or in families.

Likewise with handouts for having babies - if you're not the type of people already planning to save for your children when they're born, I'd really rather you do your best to wait until you are before you have them, rather than forcing others to contribute to your government handout.

You know, I wonder how Tim feels about McGuinty's handouts to compensate Ontarians for the increased costs of the HST. Opposing one but not the other seems awfully strange to me.

This is tremendously disappointing to hear coming from Hudak, who I never expected to be this at odds with going into the race.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (6)

Frank Klees has policy!

In an interview with Stephen Taylor, Klees finally lays out a little policy. Take a look -- policy talk starts at around 5:50:

Klees says he is:

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Frank Klees would not end monopoly on beer and wine distribution

Yesterday I wondered about the positions of the Ontario PC leadership hopefuls (other than Hillier, who has announced his policy) on the ending of the economically outrageous policy of granting a distribution monopoly to The Beer Store.

Frank Klees, in this video interview with Stephen Taylor, clears up his position: he opposes ending the monopoly.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

New legislation would add sexual orientation and parental rights to Alberta's human rights act

The Alberta government today tabled proposed changes to the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act that would increase the power and scope of the province's controversial human rights laws.

"Last year, I promised to review every facet of our province’s human rights system to make it more efficient, effective and transparent for Albertans,” said Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture and Community Spirit. “Alberta’s population has grown in size and cultural diversity, and these improvements will help ensure the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission is better equipped to meet the priorities and needs of that changing population.”

The Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act, 2009 will update legislation that has not been revised in the almost 13 years since it first became law. Proposed changes include adding sexual orientation to the scope of the Act, which will ensure it is consistent with current legislative and judicial decisions. The rights of parents on the education of their children would also be confirmed under proposed amendments.

Amendments will also clarify the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission’s role and will establish a new process to improve the handling of appeals as they arise, by ensuring they are directed to members of a Tribunal.

According to the province, the proposed legislative amendments complement several administrative changes being made to the Commission to reduce the time it takes to review a complaint, and to improve its "services to Albertans." These changes are supported through an additional $1.7 million to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission in Budget 2009 - an increase of 26 per cent - to enhance the system’s ability to investigate and mediate complaints in a timely manner. 

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (10)

Elliott talks some sense on the HST?

I've heard from a few people this weekend that at an event in Windsor Christine Elliott, in conversations with members, revealed that were she premier she would not stop harmonization of the provincial sales tax, but would instead simply cut the rate.This is, of course, the right thing to do. It's what should be done when the harmonization is brought in.

It is also not what her announced position on the policy is, and her campaign should formally announce this positive development if it's true. If Elliott believes that harmonization itself is good, but the Liberals are bringing it in at the wrong time (believable from her quote in this story), it wouldn't be inconsistent of her to want to only cut a few points off, rather than moving away from the reform.

Should Elliott make this announcement there's going to be a lot more head scratching than there already has been over people wondering whether Elliott is the "red" Tory candidate. This would be good, common sense fiscal conservative policy.

William Joseph also reported that Tim Hudak was back peddling on his position on the HST:

He said he would be willing to propose eliminating it, but he did not say that this would be in his platform and that it will depend on how it is working. I followed up with saying I wished he would be attacking the spending in the budget more than the HST since pretty much every economist thinks it's a good idea. He claimed he does also talk about this, but his website seems to only focus on the "DST," or "Dalton Sales Tax".

Since Hudak has been unbelievably vocal about "stopping the DST" (see his website for an idea of how strongly it's emphasized) it's going to be so terribly typically political of him if he later decides that he's for it, now that he's been against it.

It would be nice to see the candidates clear up their positions on this important issue. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Who else are ya gonna vote for?

It's not great to be a social conservative voter in the run-up to B.C.'s provincial election on May 12. Buried in a column in yesterday's Province is a candid revelation that points to how the B.C. Liberals may treat the so-con voter part of their coalition.

One has to wonder if the party hopes to reinvent the "sixty second Socred" idea of the 1970s and 1980s, where B.C. voters hold their nose and vote to keep the socialist hordes safely behind the gates, even though they are not happy with how the "non-NDP party" governs.

Province columnist Ethan Baron thought that he had discovered a smoking guy in his column "Ban bigots from representing us in legislature". Mr. Baron struck a nerve, based on the responses in today's newspaper from readers.

Marc Dalton, a local teacher, is running for the B.C. Liberals in Maple-Ridge-Mission, a riding which probably has a good complement of so-con voters due to its proximity to B.C.'s Bible Belt. The NDP leaked a 1997 e-mail by Mr. Dalton to Mr. Baron to help the efforts of the riding's NDP candidate Mike Bocking. (I am sure that the fact that Mr. Bocking has for "the last 10 years...served as the president of Local 2000 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the union that represents more than 2800 newspaper workers in BC" --the Province's union--played absolutely no part in how "newsworthy" this leak was considered. But, I digress...)

Back in 1997, the B.C. Teacher's Federation was considering the issue of how homosexuality should be dealt with in B.C. schools. Mr. Dalton's e-mail sharing his views at the time is what was leaked to Mr. Baron.

Mr. Baron quotes Mr. Dalton as follows: 

"I am not against homosexuals as people, but I do not support their lifestyle," wrote Dalton, calling homosexuality "a moral issue."

Dalton went on to note in the 1997 e-mail that many people "hold homosexuality to be an improper and high-risk behaviour."

Then he got a little peculiar with his language.

"Though I oppose violence toward these people as well as toward all people, I am against the BCTF ram-rodding the homosexual motion against the wishes of great numbers of parents [and teachers] in this district and this province."

Mr. Dalton's position at the time was and is defendable. There are probably many people in the riding who would want B.C.'s schools to carefully respect parents' conservative views on the subject in how and what they teach.

Mr. Baron, however, took the old e-mail and ran with it. He echoes Mr. Bocking in being appalled that anyone who may think that way is a teacher, and urged that schools must be used to combat "bigotry" in local homes.

Mr. Dalton's response, certainly directed from above by B.C. Liberal officials, is what may be of interest here.

It's safe to guess that in the Maple Ridge--Mission riding there are probably a lot more conservative voters who want government bodies--such as schools--to respect their belief that homosexuality is morally wrong than they are liberal gay-positive voters. A good answer for Mr. Dalton, then, would be to say that a balance should be struck and that if schools must address the issue at all, that both sides of the issue should be respected.

But what did Mr. Dalton say? He issued a press release apologizing for his 1997 statements and, while declining to state his moral views on the subject now, swung into line like a good B.C. Liberal:

"We do need to be promoting tolerance." The Liberals, he said, "are fully committed to equality for gays. And I am part of this party."

Would it be fair to say, then, that there are several litmus tests, that the B.C. Liberals use to screen out those with traditional views on such things? Would they kick someone out of the party for being pro-life, for example?

I can understand, but certainly not in the slightest approve, the B.C. Liberals in a caucus meeting or behind closed doors deciding that, in order to keep their coalition intact, that they need to defer every time to the socially liberal part of their party if push ever comes to shove. But, such things in recent years have been done quietly and respectfully behind closed doors.

That said, it's frightening that this would be done during an election campaign. Refreshingly honest, yes, but scary. Do you want to tell a significant part of your base that they can't be listened to on a particular issue? Why be so incredibly blunt?

The B.C. Liberals are probably safe in this election, but how many times, and regarding how many issues, can you tell small-c conservative voters that you won't listen to them? If there was a viable conservative party running in every riding, they might be losing votes even as we speak.

Gordon Campbell, who missed out being elected premier in 1996 due to the efforts of Jack Weisgerber and his B.C. Reform party, should know due to painful experience the value of giving conservative voters some hope that they will get some of the things they want.

Hindsight, they say, is perfect. Does the B.C. Liberal Party have some?   

Posted by Rick Hiebert on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Revving up Roadkill Radio

Tonight on Roadkill Radio, Kari Simpson and I will be speaking from 7:30-8 p.m. Pacific with Brian Rushfeldt, Executive Director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, about human trafficking and modern-day slavery in Canada. Listen and find out how the subject is related to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

From 8-8:30 p.m. Donna Vandekerkhove, a Lower Mainland candidate for the upstart B.C. Refederation Party, which is running two dozen candidates in the upcoming B.C. provincial election, will be joining us in studio. Donna’s suddenly become a media darling, as she will be joining Kari and me fresh from an interview with CBC.

And from 8:30-9:30 p.m. we'll also be speaking in studio with Campaign Life Coalition’s John Hof about his recently released survey of candidates running in the provincial election. As well, we’ll touch on the upcoming March for Life in Victoria, to which organizers are hoping to attract 5,000 participants. (By the way, I will be MC-ing the rally at the end of the march.)

All that, and our regular features: RoadkillRadio Warrior of the Week and Tales from Van-KooK-er. Listen live at www.roadkillradio.com or catch us later on the archive.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on April 28, 2009 in Media | Permalink | Comments (1)

Candidates struggle to connect with BC voters

On Tuesday May 12, BC voters go to the polls at a time when we are facing the worst economic calamity in 70 years and politicians are struggling to find voters who care. What is up with British Columbia’s political state of ennui?

In the old days politicians would try and connect with voters by holding big rallies and attending all candidate forums. Now they post candidate pages on facebook, send innocuous messages on twitter, wave signs at you as your drive on the highway and knock on your door and hope that you are home and interested enough to spend a minute or two chatting with them.

The question that worries all of them is will you actually go out to vote on May 12th? Recently I had the opportunity to attend a dinner where Small Business Minister Ida Chong was the guest speaker. Even in her relatively safe riding of Oak Bay Gordon Head she is worried that not enough of her supporters will come out to vote on May 12th.

I had a chance to speak at length with Ida and she told me, “This is not an election we can take for granted, I am door knocking every day and when constituents tell me I have their support, I let them know what I really need is their vote because that is what counts on election day.”

Another candidate for the BC Liberals is Robin Adair who is hoping to win back the riding of Saanich South. Adair is a familiar face to many people having served for years as a news anchor, radio host and more recently as Chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to door knocking at least several times a week Adair and his campaign team our out on the pedestrian overpasses waving signs at the commuters as they drive to work. Adair is also on Twitter and sends out messages such as “Did u know? BC housing budget this year is $469 M – the highest level ever & four times more than under the last full year of the NDP.”

John Horgan, the NDP MLA for Malahat Juan de Fuca, is in a tough race with former Colwood Mayor Jody Twa of the BC LIberals. At a breakfast event I attended on the weekend, he took pains to portray himself as a political moderate, a message that was received with some relief by the construction industry contractors he was talking to.

Horgan, if he is re-elected, will no doubt be a serious contender for the position of leader of the BC NDP. But to get re-elected he like many other candidates is out burning up the shoe leather knocking door to door, hoping that you are home and encouraging you to actually go out on vote on May 12th.

This election is going to be a nail biter for all candidates. Technology has not only affected the way we interact with politicians, it has even affected the reliability of political polls. If polling companies are only phoning landline numbers, what about the increasing number of people who only have cell phones?

Thus at the end of the day this election will not be determined by who people intended to vote for, but those who actually took the time on May 12th to get to a polling station and actually vote. There are lots of politicians who have lost by only a handful of votes who were told after the election by supporters, “I meant to go vote for you but I thought you were going to win anyways so I didn’t bother.”

The bottom line lesson here is, if you expect someone else to do your voting for you don’t be surprised if the results turn out differently than the way you wanted them to.

[Cross-posted at The Insider – BC Lobbyist]

Posted by Mike Geoghegan on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Alberta confirms two cases of human swine influenza

Two cases of human swine influenza have been confirmed in Alberta, one in Calgary, and the other in northern Alberta.

Both individuals are male and have experienced a mild form of the illness that did not require hospitalization. The male from northern Alberta has fully recovered from flu symptoms and the other male from Calgary has nearly recovered from symptoms. Both individuals contracted the influenza virus during recent travel to Mexico.

“These cases show that our monitoring and surveillance system is working as it should,” said Dr. André Corriveau, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “It was only a matter of time until cases of human swine influenza would show up in Alberta. These cases are both mild, similar to recent cases identified in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, and across the United States.”

Alberta issued a public health alert two days ago in light of human swine influenza cases reported in Mexico, the United States and Canada. The province is also said to be working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada to monitor for influenza activity related to the new strain.

“All medical officers of health will continue to monitor for new cases of human swine flu,” said Courriveau. “We recommend anyone with a fever or cough who has returned from a recent trip to Mexico to recover from their illness at home, and call Health Link Alberta before seeking medical attention.”

The government is reminding Albertans that hand washing is the single most important way to avoid getting the flu. Those with flu-like symptoms can help prevent the spread of illness by washing their hands frequently and practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette. People with the flu-like symptoms should stay at home and avoid public places until they have recovered.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1)

“The people who keep their houses do as they're told”

I'd be grateful if anyone had additional details on this story.

Take a look at the April 24 blog entry. A couple in Brabant Lake, Saskatchewan has allegedly been kicked out of their house for talking about forced sterilization and abortions amongst native Canadians, and for distributing a pro-life newspaper:

“The people who keep their houses do as their [sic] told.” Sergeant Janes, RCMP detachment head. At 10:30 am Vaughn Skogstad, chairman of La Ronge Housing Authority and past NDP campaign chairman, his helper, Sergeant Janes and a constable arrived at our door of our house to tell us that we have to leave. We were told that we committed unlawful entry when we opened up our house after travelling seven hours in a snow storm. Sergeant Janes said “you knew this was coming and you did nothing about it. It is not your house. (repeated 6 times) It belongs to the province. You knew that they were going to do this. The people who keep their house do as their told.”

I said that they are just doing this because we distributed pro-life newspapers and are exposing that Indian people are being pushed into abortion and sterilisation. He admitted that this was true. He said that you should have tried to get a lawyer and buy the house...

There is a strong conviction among some self- proclaimed progressive elite in La Ronge and elsewhere that native people should be sterilised and have abortions by force if necessary. This clique which expects people “to do as they’re told” has never allowed pro-life materials in the North.

There are places in Canada where people believe in forced sterilization and abortion? I already know about the freedom of speech problem -- though being evicted for distributing a newspaper is especially harsh.

(cross-posted to ProWomanProLife)

Posted by Andrea Mrozek on April 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Letting go


A Quebec sovereigntist association is demanding an apology for a tract published in 1849 by the Montreal Gazette that the group contends incited 1,500 anglophone Montrealers to burn down the city's parliament.

The St-Jean-Baptiste Society commemorated the fiery episode yesterday in the very place where the three-storey parliament once stood -- now a parking lot ringed by grey stone buildings in a popular tourist districts.

The arsonists were protesting a bill introduced by Louis Lafontaine meant to compensate Canadians who had lost property in armed political uprisings of 1837 and 1838. 

Publius, of course, relishes any mention of obscure details in Canadian history. Burning down parliament sounds like a very unCanadian thing to do. Cliches of polite deferential Canadians are mostly American stereotypes reimported into Canada. Victorian Canada was a violent, unstable and dangerous place, like all frontiers. Most Canadian cities experienced riots -- real riots, not a bunch of professional agitators throwing rocks at well protected police -- and ethnic and religious tensions were always just below the surface. Not just English and French, and Protestant and Catholic, but today half-forgotten sects of Protestants quarreled with one another.  

The burning of the legislature -- this was the Province of Canada's legislatures, not the Dominion Parliament created in 1867 -- culminated in a two day riot, itself provoked by the Rebellion Losses Bill. Generations of Canadian students, back when history was still taught, were compelled to memorize that name and the date, 1849. The granting of assent, by the GG Lord Elgin, has been seen by historians as the moment in which responsible government came to Canada. 

Responsible what now? Previously the Governor General, and the respective Lieutenant-Governors, could refuse to grant assent to bills passed and could appoint cabinets regardless of the composition of the legislature. In other words, just because a party won a majority of seats in the legislature did not mean that it would form the actual government -- i.e. the cabinet or ministry -- or that its legislation would become law. Elgin's decision, despite his personal reservations, established the precedent that bills passed by the Canadian legislature would be granted assent (made law). Elgin's decision marks the beginning of liberal democracy in Canada and our path toward independence.  

The Bill in question compensated those Lower Canadians (residents of modern day Quebec) who had lost property during the Rebellions of 1837-1838, including rebels against the crown. This naturally annoyed many anglophones, especially in the Montreal area where fighting had been the greatest. The legislation was modeled on an earlier act to compensate the participants of William Lyon Mackenzie's Rebellion in December of 1837. That act had provoked far less hostility, the suggesting being that the riots which took place in Montreal were basically anti-French in character. After the fire, the capital was moved from Montreal, alternating between Toronto and Quebec until 1867.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 28, 2009 in Canadian History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stephen Harper won't step down -- not without a fight

The chattering classes are chattering:

With Conservative polling numbers pointing in the wrong direction, could Stephen Harper take a walk in the snow before the next election?

Only six months after a federal campaign that brought more Conservatives to the House of Commons, the notion that the end of the political life of the Prime Minister could come before the first anniversary of his second election victory next fall is no longer considered unthinkable.

You don't get to be Prime Minister without a fair-sized ego and larger-than-life ambitions. Even leaders who knew they were going down to defeat, recall R.B. Bennett's 1935 campaign, don't want to be seen as abandoning the ship. Stephen Harper hasn't obtained his ultimate goal, a majority government, possibly two. Resignation now would be willingly going down in history as a failure. Something Harper will never countenance.  

For all his mistakes, for all the economy is doing to his popularity, the Prime Minister still has a fighting chance of winning the next election. The Ignatieff Liberals are vulnerable on many points, including the leader himself. Once the memory of Stephane Dion has faded, the electorate will confront a leader with little administrative experience, bereft of serious policy alternatives and with four decades of an intellectual trackrecord that may not hold up all that well in the modern political light of day.  

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (8)

Does inclusive education sacrifice the best students to egalitarianism?

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” is a communist slogan made famous by Karl Marx, the author of The Communist Manifesto and architect of the bloodiest ideology in history.

While communism might be a discredited political system, the ethics of collectivism and altruism, on which this system rests, remain resilient. We expect the wealthiest in society to pay more through progressive taxation, for instance, simply because they have more. We also generally accept that need alone is a reasonable claim on the time and wealth of those more fortunate. So it is fair to conclude that "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is the moral foundation of the Canadian welfare state.

This moral foundation, the ethics of collectivism and altruism, was fiercely opposed by individualist philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand who wrote:

Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes.”

This brings me to the TV and radio campaign being waged by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), a 50-year-old organization “striving for the full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.” The “No Excuses” campaign for inclusive education is “working for more kids with intellectual disabilities getting into regular classrooms.”

Here are the two TV commercials the organization is currently running:

The arguments for inclusive education rest primarily on the advantages inclusion brings to the mentally disabled. According to the CACL, children with mental disabilities do better in regular classrooms, inclusive education environments, than they do in special education classrooms. But how does this arrangement benefit children with normal or exceptional intelligence -- and should this even be a consideration in a culture that values collectivism and altruism?

In the past, I’ve worked extensively with the mentally and physically disabled as a volunteer. I am also a teacher by profession, and familiar with at least some of the literature on the subject of inclusive education and the practical challenges of this approach. And I’m also a brother to a sibling with a serious handicap who benefited tremendously from an inclusive education and who is now an excellent parent with an accomplished career. So I'm familiar with the unique needs of the intellectually disabled, familiar with the arguments for inclusion as well as the practical, classroom challenges, and intimately familiar with the benefits inclusive education can bring to someone with a disability. But none of this changes the fact that children with special needs do demand disproportionately more time from teachers. These intellectually disabled students also demand more from their intellectually superior peers, who are often thrust into the role of substitute teacher, tutor and counselor, arguably at the expense of traditional academic pursuits.

Parents look for the most academically and socially rich educational environment possible for their children, often turning to the private sector, an exclusive environment where high standards for both academics and behaviour are promised and expected. Some parents go so far as to home school their children, the least inclusive education option. Is it fair to ask these parents to sacrifice what they believe is best for their children to notions of social justice and equality? I would argue "no."

Since the Western Standard has a libertarian editorial mission, what does the libertarian philosophy demand of public education institutions as long as such institutions exist? Certain public schools, responding to demands for choice, already exist to cater to students of a particular language, religion, race, gender and, of course, academic prowess. Do these options violate the spirit of public education? Perhaps, but the spirit of public education may be worth violating in the pursuit of more choice, even if it comes at the expense of inclusion.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 28, 2009 in School Choice | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wildrose Alliance leadership race: Will Danielle Smith run for leader?

You have to be really atuned to the minutiae of Alberta politics to have noticed that the leader of Alberta's Wildrose Alliance Party, Paul Hinman, resigned last week. The Wildrose Alliance (WA) is an amalgam, on the eve of the last provincial election, of an older fringe party, the Alberta Alliance, with a fledgling Wildrose Party. The Alliance was basically a populist party, while the Wildrose was shaping up to be very much a libertarian-leaning party. It is still unclear (at least to me) exactly where the balance of power lies within the WA -- being a small party, it is prone to being swayed by a few insiders -- but an interesting recent development suggests there is hope for small-government, private-property types in Alberta.

The interesting development is that Danielle Smith appears set to throw her hat into the ring for the leadership. She has resigned her position as Alberta Director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and says here (see video below) that she did so in order to pursue political ambitions.

For those who don't know Danielle Smith, she has been a distinguished voice for small government and private property for a long time in Alberta. She was formerly head of the Alberta Property Rights Initiative, among other things.

While my poor heart has been broken by too many politicians (and by too many women) in the past to give the WA under Danielle Smith my most enthusiastic support, I will venture to say that this seems to be the last best chance for freedom-loving people in Canada to get a like-minded politician elected.

Stephen Taylor interviews Danielle Smith from Stephen Taylor on Vimeo.

Posted by Grant Brown on April 28, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fox gives viewers a reprieve from numbing government

The Associated Press is reporting that the Fox network is refusing to run President Obama’s news conference marking his 100th day in office:

The Fox network is sticking with its regular schedule over President Barack Obama this week. The network is turning down the president’s request to show his prime-time news conference on Wednesday.

The news conference marks Obama’s 100th day in office. Instead of the president, Fox viewers will see an episode of the Tim Roth drama “Lie to Me.” It’s the first time a broadcast network has refused Obama’s request.

Refusing the President for any reason is a healthy practice, especially when it comes to airing presidential infomercials on a private network, and Fox viewers should welcome the short reprieve from the incessant Obama coverage. I'm reminded of what Alberta-born and -raised country music singer Corb Lund wrote in the lyrics to “Expectation and The Blues”:

It's a pretty tough call when all you can see
Is numbing government when you look at the TV
And the big business Satan
And cops that would love to take your head off if they had half a chance

A little less numbing government on TV would be good for all of us.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Libertarian Party on "bailout mania"

LP Postit The U.S. Libertarian Party has an informative page on its website dedicated to debunking "bailout mania." Here's a excerpt:

Everybody is looking for a handout.

Except, instead of poor workers looking for bread as it was during the Great Depression, we have billion-dollar beggars from Wall Street looking for a way out of bad investments. 

And to whom are they looking? You, the taxpayer, of course.

The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac opened the "Pandora's Box" of government handouts.  Now, every industry is turning to their lobbyists to grease the wheels of Washington for some spare change here and there.  Unfortunately, spare change to them is billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers.

Where does it end? Nobody knows.

In the meantime, this is how the Libertarian Party is standing up for taxpayers.

You can continue reading here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1)

In today’s news, governments are exceeding their proper scope. Is there any hope for the minimal state?

We live in an era of unlimited government. While arguments still surface about the optimal size of government, there is nary a whisper about the scope of government. Today, governments at every level across Canada pursue a dizzying array of activities never contemplated by the classical liberal thinkers whose ideas have influenced Western liberal democracies.

The notion of limited government, and the more radical notion of the minimal state, is at this point merely an academic concern, despite being very much connected to the original idea of liberalism, better known today as classical liberalism or libertarianism. So what does a libertarian mean by limited government or the minimal state? Dr. Jan Narveson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo and a too infrequent columnist for the Western Standard, writes this in his new book, You and the State:

“That government is best which governs least,” said Henry Thoreau. But what is that? When is a state “minimal”? Usually, it is characterized in some such way as this:

Police, judicial systems, prisons and the military, the minimum allegedly required to uphold the law, which is limited to protect individuals from coercion and theft, to remove criminals from society, and to defend the country from foreign aggression.

Narveson goes on to answer the question: Why should the state be minimal? This post is less ambitious than that, however, and is intended only to make the point that the state in not minimal in Canada, nor is it limited by any classical liberal concern for negative rights or the non-aggression principle. A sampling of today's government press releases and announcements provides some evidence for this:

Should the Alberta government provide educational tools for the visually impaired? Should the Saskatchewan government be involved in the arts? Should the Ontario government interfere with pharmaceutical business practices easily resolved by industry players and where no fraud against the public is alleged?  Should the federal government operate the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation?

If these questions were asked of the general public, the answers would be a resounding “yes.” In fact, the announcements above are so uncontroversial that they will be reported on in tomorrow’s newspapers with no principled opposition found in the stories, if they are reported on at all.

These announced government activities might be valuable, but are they the proper function of government, and what ideas should define the proper function of government? If the government is encouraged to pursue everything that is valuable to somebody, there can be no such thing as limited government and certainly no minimal state.

Also, if the scope of government goes unchallenged, what hope is there for limiting the size of government over the long term? Since the size of government places a direct burden of taxation on citizens, there is some pressure to keep government to a tolerably size. Advocacy organizations like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation represent the interests of taxpayers and fight to keep taxes as low as possible without specific regard to the scope of government activity. The Fraser Institute and other economic think tanks have also been helpful in containing the size of government by introducing politicians to “optimal size of government” studies which suggest that efficient government should not exceed 30% of GDP. Here is an excerpt from a Financial Post column written by Fraser Institute scholars Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis on this topic:

There is a growing body of academic research supporting the idea that the size of government matters with respect to economic performance. Very few people would argue for zero government or for a completely government-controlled economy. Somewhere between these two extremes exists a point at which economic growth and prosperity are maximized; what’s referred to as the optimal size of government.

While containing the growth of taxes and the size of government has enjoyed more success than limiting the scope of government, these ideas are ultimately mutually dependent. So it's time for pro-freedom journalists, think-tankers and academics to revisit the idea of the proper scope of government and the sensible idea of the minimal state. And they should prepare for this task by reading You and the State, the best introductory book on political philosophy for anyone interested in taking philosophical questions seriously.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (5)

PC leadership hopefuls on the Beer Store's distribution monopoly

The-beer-store-791533As reported earlier today, Randy Hillier has promised that as premier he would end the Beer Store's monopoly on distribution and would allow corner stores to sell beer and wine.

It's too bad that there isn't talk of also ending the province's liqour monopoly, but frankly this is a politically smart way to breach the subject.

As Hillier points out, the Beer Store is actually a government-sanctioned monopoly owned by foreign companies. The foreign ownership doesn't much concern me, but it does bring into question why the Beer Store's monopoly isn't questioned more often by those who it does concern.

What is outrageous is that the Beer Store's monopoly status forces any microbreweries or new beers trying to make it into Ontario to allow their competitors to do their distribution and marketing. Think of the incentives this creates!

William Joseph reported this weekend that Christine Elliott has also expressed some enthusiasm for privatizing liquor sales (though we can assume this would be bound by her commitment to the party's policy process) and that, unfortunately, Tim Hudak did not share her enthusiasm. Still waiting to hear if Frank Klees has a position on this issue - I have it on good authority that his team is working hard and policy announcements can probably be expected soon.

Posted by Janet Neilson on April 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Freedom? That's just some people talking

Paul Tuns:

Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership candidate told me in an interview a few weeks ago that everyone is a libertarian "because everyone wants to be free." But the test of whether you support liberty is not whether you want it for yourself but whether you will defend it for others. On this count, the ACLU is hardly the defender of civil liberties which it claims to be.

First let me lodge my standard complaint about Sobering Thoughts, please get real permalinks. It's been like five years already. I won't hazard a public guess as to who said "because everyone wants to be free," but I have my suspicions. Paul retorts that people want freedom for themselves, not others. Let me play philosopher for a moment. What is freedom? For Paul, Publius and that Tory candidate it means freedom from the state, the right to exercise our individual and inalienable rights. That's not what freedom means to many, perhaps most people.

For the great mass of humanity freedom means freedom from responsibility, as well as freedom from state force. People don't want to be dragged away in the middle of the night by some Stasi thug, they'd also like free health care and education. The bare majority of Americans would probably not want free health care, as they still retain a healthy skepticism about the state -- rapidly fading in the early Obama era. The freedom the typical citizen of world seeks is the freedom enjoyed by the aristocracy in the Edwardian era, little real political power, but every need or desire catered to by someone else. Canadians and Americans (and other English speaking peoples) were the exception to this desire for aristocratic freedom. The state did so little for or against the people that they largely ignored it. People in both countries have become accustomed to the new "freedoms" of the welfare state.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Lies my school teacher taught me

Not that I believed them at the time:

The results speak for themselves. During the heartless "liquidationist" era before Hoover, depressions (or "panics") were typically over within two years. Yes, it was surely no fun for workers to see their paychecks shrink quite rapidly, but it ensured a quick recovery, and, in any event, the blow was cushioned because prices in general would fall too.

So what was the fate of the worker during the allegedly compassionate Hoover era, when "enlightened" business leaders maintained wage rates amidst falling prices and profits? Well, Econ 101 tells us that higher prices lead to a smaller amount purchased. Because workers' "real wages" (i.e., nominal pay adjusted for price deflation) rose more quickly in the early 1930s than they had even during the Roaring Twenties, businesses couldn't afford to hire as many workers. That's why unemployment rates shot up to an inconceivable 28 percent by March 1933.

One of the killer arguments my old economics professors used to bring out, supposedly devastating proof that markets don't really work all that well, is the Great Depression. Prices remained "sticky" during the crisis, wages even more so. Long and often convoluted explanations were provided for this problem of "stickiness." Workers were resistant to wage cuts. The inherent irrationality of markets in a crisis. Not once was it mentioned in any classroom by any professors the policies of the Hoover administration. I discovered the actual policies of the Great Engineer while reading obscure and yellowed texts written by Austrians and libertarians in the 1930s and 1940s.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 27, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink | Comments (2)

Private Airports

So in answer to the perennial question from our statist friends, this is how you would build an airport in a free market economy:

Every one of the 552 airports providing commercial air service in the United States receives some kind of federal money, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and these airports are owned by public entities, municipalities, transportation districts or airport authorities. The closest airport to Branson was 44 miles away in Springfield, Mo. Mr. Peet’s idea was to build a new commercial airport eight miles south of Branson’s theater district, with private financing.


That is why Branson Airport is so intriguing. It is in the singularly liberating position of being able to ignore some of the business restrictions that every other commercial airport must follow.

Just an idea people. Mull it over.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Recap of Christine Elliott & Tim Hudak events

You may or may not realize this by looking at my blog posts, but apparently there are other candidates in the Ontario PC leadership race besides Randy Hillier. As of now, Hillier is my top choice for leader, but the race is widely considered to be between Christine Elliott and Tim Hudak.

Last Monday evening, both Elliott and Hudak held events in Toronto, conveniently located within a ten-minute walking distance. I was able to make it to both events and talked to the candidates. Here are my impressions from these events. (Yes, I know, a week late...)

Both events started at 7 p.m. and I showed up to the Elliott event at about 7:20 p.m. It was at her campaign office at Yonge & Eglinton. The room was already pretty full, and by the time she spoke it was about 8 p.m. My guess would be in the neighbourhood of a couple hundred people were crammed in. Her speech was kept brief and she talked about how she has a Path to Victory plan. Notably absent from her speech was any mention of the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax). I spoke with her after (more on this later) and then left for the Hudak event. There were probably still 100 people in the room. There were free drinks, but the beer list was a shameful array of tasteless macrobrews: Canadian, Coors Light, and Budweiser. Needless to say, I stuck to wine.

The Hudak event was at the Granite Brewery. The crowd was noticeably smaller, but the speeches had long finished and they weren’t providing free drinks, so it is understandable that it would wrap up earlier. This made it easy to talk to Tim since there were only about 30 people there. While this was at an awesome venue for beer, nothing was provided for free. Even though I had to pay for it myself, I did enjoy Granite Brewery's own Best Bitter Special and Keefe's Irish Stout.

A couple of other liberty-minded friends and I spoke to both candidates and we all agreed that Christine Elliott was much more impressive. I asked both about privatizing the LCBO. Elliott was much more in agreement on this than Hudak. While Elliott immediately agreed with me, Hudak started talking about his private members bill that would help out wineries, conveniently located in his riding. I told him that was protectionist and private stores should be free to sell whatever they want, but he seemed lukewarm on this.

On other random issues, Elliott was also better for liberty too. On the Green Space she said that (paraphrasing) it was unfair that the landowners were made to sacrifice on behalf of everyone else and should have been compensated. She had the words “property rights” in her answer, so that was nice. She said she didn’t agree with fully getting rid of the Ontario HRC, as Randy Hillier proposes, but that it should be getting out the business of more frivolous cases.

When asked about Hudak's income-splitting private member's bill and if he was going to have that in an election platform, he said it could be and that it is a good idea to help improve the birth rate. I guess that could be a positive to some people, not me though. 

I asked him if he was planning on getting rid of the HST. He said he would be willing to propose eliminating it, but he did not say that this would be in his platform and that it will depend on how it is working. I followed up with saying I wished he would be attacking the spending in the budget more than the HST since pretty much every economist thinks it's a good idea. He claimed he does also talk about this, but his website seems to only focus on the "DST," or "Dalton Sales Tax".

I also had asked both about policy positions and their platforms. Elliott said she will be having specific policies at some point in the campaign. Hudak seemed to smirk at me for suggesting he release his platform two years before the election. After talking with Hudak, my friends and I decided that Elliott seems to be much better for a fan of liberty than Hudak. I am now strongly leaning towards Christine Elliott as my 2nd choice after Randy Hillier.

Posted by William Joseph on April 26, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink | Comments (7)