Wednesday, December 21, 2005

But how mad would Tories be if Martin had accepted!!!

So, Stephen Harper will "stand up for Canada" and Paul Martin won't.


This decision by the Tories for Stephen Harper to debate Gilles Ducceppe one-on-one on French T.V. is smart politics by Harper, but I don't see how Martin could have avoided this.

If Martin had agreed to debate Ducceppe one-on-one on French T.V. the Tories would have had a stroke! They would have screamed bloody murder, and called it another shallow, arrogant Liberal attempt to frame the Quebec election as a two-sided referendum election, and to perpetuate the "myth" that the race in Quebec is a two-party race.

The Tories would have been infuriated, OUTRAGED(!) and they wouldn't have let the Liberals get away with it. Now that Martin has refused to a one-on-one debate with Ducceppe which would have left Harper and Layton to suck their thumbs, the Tories are "infuriated" that Martin would "back down" before the separatists, and will "stand up for Canada" themselves. It's hypocricy of the worst kind, but it's smart politics. Martin was damned if he did, damned if he didn't, and I'll be interested to see if the media points that out.

I'll also be interested to see if he tries to get back in. It seems to me that an easy argument could be made that while Martin realizes that only two parties have much of a chance to win seats in Quebec, he wasn't willing to go so far as to subvert democracy by debating with Duceppe without Harper and Layton present. And it'll be interesting to see how Layton reacts to all of this. It'll also be interesting to see if it's even legal to have a televised debate between two party leaders, excluding others. Plenty of people were upset that the Greens didn't get to debate on T.V., and they don't even have a member of parliament. Now we're going to have a leaders' debate without the current Prime Minister? A debate between one man who's caucus is exclusively from inside Quebec, and another man whose caucus is exclusively from outside of Quebec? Sublime, meet ridiculous.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Will Harper "throw a punch" at the Americans???

Stephen Harper seems to be suggestiung lately that, if anything, the problem with Prime Minister Martin's recent comments on softwood lumber and global warming isn't that they're hyperbolic anti-American rhetoric, but that they're EMPTY hyperbolic anti-American rhetoric.

From CNN:

Harper equated Martin's dealings with the United States on softwood to a kid who calls names but is afraid to fight. "He hasn't thrown a punch. He couldn't throw a punch to save his life," he said.

So, now I'm really curious. Will Harper "throw a punch"? What will that "punch" be? Will the Americans even feel it? Worse, if they do, will they punch back? And finally, can conservatives still attack Martin as dangerously anti-American now that Harper has basically said that the problem isn't Martin's words, but the fact that he won't back them up with action?

Curiouser and curiouser.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I can't believe we're still talking about childcare...

Well, I guess maybe the "beer and popcorn" gaffe is bigger than I thought, since both the Globe and Mail AND the National Post decided to stretch out the story by waiting until today, three days later, to publish their editorials condemning it (though I still think the biggest insult is that Scott Reid has found a supply of RIDICULOUSLY cheap beer and popcorn, and refuses to tell us where it is...).

Still, I can't believe we're still talking about the Liberal's plan versus the Conservative plan. In fact, it's not even the Liberal philosophy versus the Conservative philosophy at all. The Conservatives are the ONLY major party that doesn't want a national childcare plan. And guess what? CANADIANS want a national childcare plan too. That's why the Liberals have been promising it for 12 years! That's why Brian Mulroney promised it before that. It's also why Quebec (sick of waiting for something everyone was demanding) went a head and started their own plan. And what do you know, there's a gender gap! Women favour a national daycare program much more strongly than men (gee... I wonder why...)

And allow me to just say, once again, that a tax cut does not a "childcare plan" make. And before conservatives start complaining that the Tory plan is more than the measly $25 a week tax cut for parents (which, let's face it, will only REALLY help people who aren't already paying for daycare anyway). No, it's more than that! It's a tax cut for businesses too! That's right! The Conservative plan is much better than setting up a government program designed to provide high-quality regulated childcare to parents at an affordable price. The Conservatives want to give thousands of dollars to private corporations to set up their own childcare centres without all of the bureaucracy of "regulation" and "quality-control" and "minimum standards". We'll have all kinds of choices then! You can stay at home with your kids, leave them with trusted family members who don't work for a living or send them to a privately run daycare centre! Excellent! (but, is it just me, or do you have that choice now???)

Under the Conservative plan, companies will receive $10,000 per daycare space they create. Now, what they'll charge people to use those spaces is anyone's guess (repeat after me, it's not the role of government to interfere in the private sector). But if I were running a company, I'd jump at this. The Conservatives are offering to give companies grants to get into a business that is essential to many Canadians, and in which demand exceeds supply. The average cost to families of daycare in Canada is $8000 a year, and presumably, that includes some small profit margin for the operator. Now, obviously, start up costs for a program would be higher, but it seems to me, if you're a CEO, and the government is going to give you $10,000 per child to set up a program that you can then reap $8000 per child per year from (and $X000 per child per year in profits depending upon how much you charge) well, that's a good deal. Furthermore, if you can manage to set-up the program for the $8000 a child that the AVERAGE centre actually charges, you've made a $2000 per child profit before you even enroll your first child. And best of all, the Conservatives are all about "choice". So you can use that $10,000 per child to set up any kind of program you like. Hiring trained early education specialists too expensive? Don't. Simple as that.

So instead of slimy bureaucrats setting up a program with "regulations" and "standards", the Conservatives will give grants to the local Walmart to set up a daycare program for us! That'll be much better!

Vive le "choice"!

(And can I just mention how ticked I am that the Conservatives keep whining about "bureaucrats and government workers raising our kids". The bureaucrats that there may be will be ensuring that daycare centres adhere to a minimum standard of care, not working in the centres. The people in the centres will be teachers and early childcare specialists with training and experience (who knows who the private companies will hire under the Conservative plan... that's none of the government's business). So, will the teachers and early education specialists be "government workers"? Well, I suppose. But so is virtually every teacher in the country. So are most of our doctors. And nurses. And policemen. And firefighters. And soldiers. So what? I'd rather have a well-educated professional whose pay cheque comes from the government (and is therefore regulated by the government) taking care of my kids, than somebody who took a month long "training course" and managed to get by the strict regulations (if any) set up by my local corporate "daycare" centre. There are some things that are so important to Canadians that we feel we have a collective responsibility to fund and operate those services as a society rather than allowing private companies to do the work for us. Our healthcare is one. Our military is another. Our educational system is yet another. I think the majority of Canadians think that the childcare that so many of us need for our children before they reach the age at which our educational system begins, is another essential service that we can't just leave in the hands of corporations. But maybe I'm crazy.).

The Liberals like tax cuts, but believe that there are some things in society that must be handled by the government. The Conservatives love tax cuts and believe that "government" is a dirty word.

You make the call.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

I kid you not...

This is the latest headline for the CNN story on Bush's recent Iraq speech:

Bush: Iraqi democracy making progress; estimates 30,000 Iraqis killed

Well, good to know they're making progress.

You couldn't make this stuff up.


Of course reading the article is even better:

Another question came from a woman who asked why the Bush administration continues to link the September 11 terrorist attacks with the decision to invade Iraq.
Bush, who said in his opening remarks that the war on terror started that day in 2001, responded, "9/11 changed my look on foreign policy. I mean, it said that oceans no longer protect us; that we can't take threats for granted; that if we see a threat, we've got to deal with it."
The president said that Saddam Hussein was a threat that was "accentuated by 9/11."

That's right. The President answered a question about why his administration continues to link Iraq to 9/11 by explaining the link betwen Iraq and 9/11. That's just priceless.

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Why would you spend your $5 a day on beer and popcorn when you could buy....

... Oh, wait, I can't actually think of anything useful you could get for $5 a day.

In fact, does Scott Reid have any idea how expensive beer and popcorn are? I mean, if you're in a two-parent home, I figure $5 a day buys you each one beer and one bag of popcorn!

You know the one thing that $5 a day definitely won't help you get though?


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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Banning handguns might not stop gangs, but most murders aren't committed by gangs anyway!!!

Right Wingers are going to complain that banning handguns will do nothing to stop the urban gang violence in Toronto. While I don't agree 100% with that assessment, the point they make does have validity, so I for one am going to concede that point and move on to the real reason banning handguns is a good policy... most gun deaths are NOT gang related!!!

Here are some stats:

Stats Can: “Each year, there are about five times more suicides involving firearms than homicides committed with firearms.”

1996 figures “More than 1,000 Canadians die every year from gunshot wounds, most of them by their own hand. In 1996 the total firearm deaths amounted to 1,131, of which 815 were suicides, 45 were accidents and 156 were homicides.”

You’re much more likely to die by a gun because of suicide and accident, than homicide.
Also, most of the homicides are NOT gang related. Most gun homicides are domestic disputes which end in a death because someone has a gun.

“The evidence indicates that potential murderers are usually not persons engaged in premeditated homicidal acts, but rather, participants in family quarrels, arguments between acquaintances, brawls, clashes of personality, and so on. While such disturbances precipitate violence, they neither require a death for their resolution nor usually result in fatal consequences for those involved. It is unrealistic to assume that people involved in most murder cases are so determined to kill that in the absence of guns they will either seek to achieve their purpose with any available alternative or deliberately evade whatever restrictions may be enacted." (“Guns and Violence,” pp. 13-14)

In other words, most domestic homicides involving guns wouldn’t have been homicides at all if there hadn’t been a gun present, and you are FAR more likely to kill a family member with your gun than to kill anyone else.

It’s also interesting to note that in cases of domestic homocide using handguns, the murderer was only violating a gun law at the time of the killing in 22% of cases!!!

So, while gang violence gets all the headlines (and the Liberals will probably sell this as helping with that, which I admit it probably won’t) suicides and family on family murders are a MUCH bigger problem in reality. And in the case of domestic violence with handguns, 78% of perps hadn’t violated any gun law at all, until the moment they killed their family member (usually their spouse).

Banning handguns might not make Toronto any safer for pedestrians. But it probably will save lives. And as far as I'm concerned, saving the lives of innocent people is a good reason to ban handguns, even if gangsters will still have illegal guns.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Tories unite Canadians!!!

Wow, is it possible the Tories could win more seats than anyone else and STILL not be able to form a government that can govern?

Everyone assumes that whatever happens in this election there will be another minority Parliament (unless the Liberals can somehow squeak in a majority, but no one really expects that!). So, let's take a look at the Tories' announced policies so far, and what the other parties in Parliament think of them:

1) Re-open the same-sex marriage issue.
Liberals: Bad idea.
BQ: Bad idea.
NDP: Terrible idea.

2) Cut 2% from the GST
Liberals: Stupid idea.
BQ: Stupid idea.
NDP: What an idiotic idea.

3) Increase criminal penalties for drug offenses.
Liberals: Stupid, bad idea.
BQ: Stupid regressive idea.
NDP: Stupid bad regressive idea.

4) $5 a day for all parents (regardless of need) for child care.
Liberals: Stupid idea, and we already have a plan in place with 10 provinces that is better.
BQ: Stupid idea, and we expect that even a Tory government will live up to agreements that have already been made with the provinces.
NDP: Wow, what a completely idiotic plan!

The Tories clearly have a plan.

Any idea how they're going to implement it in a minority situation with no support from ANY of the other parties in the House.

Perhaps the Tories new slogan will be "Give us a majority! Otherwise none of our crazy plans will get done!"

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Who knew that "choice" only costs $5 per day!

Well, the Tories continue to keep the momentum by announcing policy after policy (idiotic policy after idiotic policy, to be sure, but still, everyone's talking!) The latest? Harper's Tories will offer Canadian parents "choice" by paying for the bus ride to and from daycare everyday!

How parents pay for the DAYCARE is entirely up to them.

The only "choice" this will give most parents is for one of them to stay at home, or to have family members take care of the kids. Now, I understand that this is what the Conservatives want to promote, but that's not "choice". Not for most families.

I like to compare the Tory announcement to the Quebec childcare system. In Quebec, the provinicial government provides childcare, and asks you to pay $5 per day. In the Tory plan, Harper will give you $5 per day, and ask you to find private childcare yourself. Thanks Uncle Stephen! Now, the Quebec system is not perfect by any means. But which of these two plans sounds like it might need some tweaking, and which sounds FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED?


The Tories are stealing the agenda by making all of these policy announcements, but now I realize why the Liberals are keeping pretty quiet. As long as the Tories are making announcements, they're keeping the headlines. But as long as those announcements are idiotic and wrong-headed (reopeneing same-sex marriage, a GST cut most economists think is stupid, increased criminal penalties for drug offences when most Canadian want a more comprehensive drug strategy rather than a "war on drugs", and now a childcare plan that wouldn't pay for 10 weeks of childcare a year!!!) well, if I were the Liberals, I'd keep my head down and laugh at the show too!

Apparently, Quebec public daycare is $7 a day, not $5. And if you don't want to wait, you'll have to pay $14.

To compare, the national average is $22, so under the Harper plan, it'll cost you $17 a day (on average) compared to Quebec's $7 or $14. But under Harper's plan, there are no national standards. You pay the company, you take your chances. Of course, I'm told be readers in Ottawa that THERE, the average is around $35, so if you live in Ottawa, you're going to pay $30 a month under the Tories, or more than twice the expensive rate in Quebec's system. (That is, IF you decide to spend the money on childcare, which the Tories don't really care if you do or not). As has been pointed out, the Tory plan is NOT childcare. It's a tax break.

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