Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dion Wins!!!


2521 to 2084.

Go Stephane!!!

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Liberal Leadership Odds...

Jeffrey Simpson did an online chat at just now, and at one point he gives his view of the odds for the Liberal leadership race:

Rae 4:1, Dion 6:1, Iggy 10:1, Kennedy 50:1

Very interesting!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Run for your lives!!!!

Crazy (killer?) sea lions!!!

God help us all.

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Is you is, or is you not "Quebecois"???

OK, so the Parliament of Canada overwhelmingly passed a resolution last night declaring "That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada." ("Que cette Chambre reconnaisse que les Québécoises et les Québécois forment une nation au sein d'un Canada uni".)

So, here are what should be 2 simple questions.

My best friend was born and raised in Quebec, has never lived anywhere else, is a bilingual, anglophone Montrealer with French Canadian ancestry on one side of his family, and English Canadian ancestry on the other.

Question 1. Is he a part of the "Quebecois nation" as (not) defined by Parliament?

Question 2. What if I had asked Question 1 in French, based upon the French resolution?

Don't spend too much time thinking about this one. I have a feeling there are dozens of answers to each question.

And "meaningless" resolution or not, isn't that a problem???

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Can this be stopped now anyway....

So, the abomination that is the "Quebecois nation" resolution (and I'll stop calling it an abomination once it includes a definition of both the words "nation" and "Quebecois") has forced a Cabinet Minister to resign, and it appears that Kennedy and Dryden are both now going to fight it.

Is it too late now though? Can anyone kill this thing?

The chattering classes have been telling anyone who would listen that this whole episode was a bad, bad, BAD idea, from day one, and finally it seems a couple of politicians have taken them to heart. Too little too late though?

If the Commons is really going to pass a resolution recognizing the Quebecois as a nation (despite the fact that the majority of Canadians (and around a third of Quebeckers) disagree with that assertion) at least with a few people providing some opposition, someone might think to define the terms "Quebecois" (which means something different in French than in English) and "nation" (which means something different depending upon whom you're talking to, the time of day, and the ambient room temperature in the room the discussion is taking place in). At least we might get a resolution that is clear enough that more than two people at a time can agree on what it means.

If you ask me, politicians are much too focused on the (presumed) reaction in Quebec to this resolution failing, and not nearly focused enough on the implications of it passing.

Maybe a Cabinet Minister resigning and a couple of federal Liberal leadership hopefuls tossing hand grenades around will wipe away some of the fog that seems to have descended upon the brains of those on Parliament Hill lately.

I won't hold my breath.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

...the only Liberal leadership candidate the Conservatives consulted.

24 November 2006
The Globe and Mail

With reports from Campbell Clark, Bill Curry, Daniel Leblanc, Rhéal Séguin and John Ibbitson

"... Mr. Harper's immediate reaction was that the Bloc was trying to divide Quebeckers — and the federalist political parties.
But Conservatives said the Prime Minister believes the separatists made a historic error in asking Parliament to define the status of Quebeckers. Separatists have always said “We'll take our own destiny in our own hands and we don't need Ottawa to tell us what to do” — to Mr. Harper's mind, the Bloc motion marked the first time the separatists had indirectly admitted that Ottawa has a say in Quebec's future.

The Prime Minister called Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe and asked him whether this was a course of action he truly wanted to take. Mr. Duceppe didn't back down.

Insiders said there was no discussion in those first hours of the problems that the motion could create for the opposition Liberals, already embroiled in an internecine dispute over the matter. Instead, they said, Mr. Harper was convinced it was his job to prevent divisions within the country.

He and his staff drafted a motion identical to the one to be put forward by the Bloc Québécois but for four critical words added on to the end, reading: “That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada.”

Some Conservatives gave credit for the idea to Mr. Soudas, a young Quebecker of Greek descent. But Mr. Soudas refused to acknowledge that he played so crucial a part.
“There is a team around the Prime Minister and we all played an important role,” he said yesterday. “But, ultimately, at the end of the day, advisers can give 101 pieces of advice but it's the person who decides that matters..”

Mr. Harper met with NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Bill Graham on Tuesday evening to ask if they would form a united front against the Bloc.

During the brief meeting with Mr. Layton, the NDP Leader said his party has recognized Quebec as a nation for many years. Mr. Harper left believing that the New Democrats would be onside.

Mr. Graham was less clear. Conservatives suggest that was due to the divisions within his party. Liberal sources say the meeting was simply intended as a heads-up.
“It was something to the effect of, ‘This could turn into a Gong Show, and I'm going to try to put something together,' ” one Liberal said.

Later that evening, the Prime Minister's staff ran the motion past Stéphane Dion, the former intergovernmental affairs minister and author of the Clarity Act. He was the only Liberal leadership candidate the Conservatives consulted.

Wednesday, it was time to face the rank and file at caucus meetings. The Conservatives said the Prime Minister had little trouble consolidating support.

“There wasn't really any indication that people would be afraid of doing this, simply because they trust the Prime Minister . . . and they know that given his background, there wouldn't be any opening up of the Constitution or trying to lead down that road,” caucus chair Rahim Jaffer said.

The young Quebec caucus members were particularly moved by what the Prime Minister was saying, Ms. LeBreton said.
“At one point, a couple of members kind of jokingly suggested that they agree with what he is doing but is there not some way we can delay this because they were so enjoying watching the Liberals wrestle with this,” she said.

“But he simply said to them, ‘Look, this is about our country and the unity of our country and it's far more important than scoring political points on the backs of the Liberal Party'. . . That's when I said to myself, I am witnessing a special moment in history.”

Meanwhile, across the corridor of the Centre Block, the Liberal caucus was also meeting.

About 10 minutes before it ended, Mr. Graham and Mr. Harper had a tête-à-tête in the rear hallway. Mr. Harper told the Liberal Leader about the motion. Mr. Graham listened, but did not offer a commitment. Nor did he bring it back to his caucus. Instead, he consulted some “key” MPs, and decided to sign on.

Inside Mr. Graham's office, there were concerns about the impact the motion could have on the leadership race — in particular, the feeling that second-place Bob Rae, who has criticized Mr. Ignatieff on the nation issue, might feel sideswiped. But Mr. Harper had given Mr. Graham a yes or no choice.

The NDP, meanwhile, says it was being left in the dark. Mr. Layton's office was told that the Prime Minister would make a statement in the House of Commons at 3 p.m. but the topic would be “money related.” Then Canadian Press began to report that Mr. Harper would be talking about the Bloc motion.

Partial texts of Mr. Harper's statement were given to the opposition leaders about 20 minutes before he stood in the House to table his motion. In an eloquent address, he talked about Canada as being the greatest country in the world — one that has been forged with the help of Quebeckers. Mr. Graham gave his reply in an equally moving speech. His party would support the Conservative motion, he said.

Mr. Charest, who received a copy of the motion just before it was read in the House, called to say he was delighted. Inside the House antechambers, MPs on the Liberal and Conservative side were jubilant.

Yesterday morning, former prime minister Brian Mulroney, who is on vacation in Florida, called Ms. LeBreton to say how impressed he was with the media coverage.

“I said to the Prime Minister,” she said, “You can never go wrong when you do the right thing.”"

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Didn't the Conservatives cut the Liberal's non-existent climate plan themselves???

So, it seems to me, with Rona Ambrose continuing the party line that everything that's wrong with the country is the Liberal's fault, and the Tories shouldn't be held responsible, having been in office only 11 months, that someone really needs to call them on their claim that the Liberals "didn't have a plan" to address climate change.

It seems to me, for whatever little they did while they were in office, the Liberals DID actually have a plan to meet our International Treaty obligations under Kyoto, and that a big part of the Tories first 11 months in office has been spent cutting funding to those programs, and shelving all those plans. So, it seems to me the Tories are in the typical politician's position of claiming that their opponents didn't have an environmental plan, while spending all their time on the environment file systematically dismantelling the Liberals actual plan (which doesn't exist, never did, and is all in your mind... just because they're reversing it doesn't mean "it" ever existed).

The Tories are shouting to the rooftops that the Liberals didn't implement their climate change plan, and conveniently leaving out the fact that this is because they were defeated in the election and replaced by the Conservatives, who quickly gutted the $10 billion plan (which they will now have you believe never existed, because it was never implemented... and please ignore that it was never implemented because the government was defeated by a bunch of Tories who didn't want to implement it!!!).

So, I'm wondering. Does anyone have a comprehensive list of all of the Liberal's environmental programs, and plans for new programs, that the Conservatives have cancelled and/or shelved?

I think the Liberals could have met our Kyoto obligations, I know they would have at least tried, and at the very least I'm sure they wouldn't have been so casual about failing to live up to our obligations under international law. I'm also positive that if we did something as simple as reversing every environmental poilicy decision the Conservatives have made in the last 11 months, we'd get closer to fulfilling our international obligations than we will with their "Clean Air (someday) Act".

So, who'd like to start a list of all of the previously existing and planned Liberal environmental programs the Conservatives have cancelled, while simultaneously denying their existence?

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In defence of Jason Cherniak...

Is it just me, or is it a bit rich of a professional pontificator, who makes a living giving people his opinion in national newspapers and national television programs, to insinuate that a blogger is being too "self-involved" on his own blog!?!?

I like Andrew Coyne and all, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with a nationally published columnist taking pot shots at some guy's personal blog for being too "self-involved" as though that wasn't kinda the WHOLE POINT of blogging.

Cherniak's blog may be widely read, and he may be "in the public eye" to a certain, limited extent but if "too self-involved" is a legitimate criticism of some random Canadian's personal blog, then maybe we should shut down Blogger. It feels to me, kinda like reading someone's autobiography, and complaining that it's all about them. Or of a nationally recognized literary critic taking time out of their busy day to negatively critique a book of poetry published by some young aspiring poet on a vanity press somewhere, and publishing the review in Toronto Life.

I guess Cherniak should be flattered, Andrew Coyne is concerned about what he's writing about.

Me, I'd think it was a little creepy.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Countdown to Rumsfeld receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom....

I give it two weeks!

History shows that such stunning incompetence can't be left unrewarded for long.

"You did a great job Rummy".

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Rumsfeld Stepping down!


That was fast.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Remembrance: Our last three World War One Veterans...

In honour of Remebrance Day, please consider signing the Dominion Institute's online petition urging the Prime Minister to honour our last WWI veteran resident in Canada (and by extension all WWI veterans) by offering his family the honour of a state funeral.

I think it's an excellent notion to bring greatly deserved honour to our WWI veterans who fought in such a terrible conflict under such horrific conditions, and to remind us all of their sacrifice in the Great War, a terrible conflagration that garners less and less remembrance each year, and which we do not connect to as readily as conflicts such as the Second World War, and more recent events.

Our youngest resident WWI veteran, Percy Wilson is 105 years young, and fellow veterans Lloyd Clemett and John Babcock are both 106, so sadly our last living connections to this tragic time may not be with us much longer.

I think a state funeral (at the option of the family, of course) would be an excellent, and meaningful way of honouring our WWI veterans, and their great sacrifices on behalf of all of us, and a tremendous opportunity to remember.

Please spread the word!

Never forget.

Update: Please vote for this post to keep it high on the Progressive Bloggers homepage for all to see!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Countdown to cleanliness!

As you'll see from my new sidebar addition, there are now less than 7007 days until the Conservatives set their clean air standards, and still a mere 44 years until they meet their target of a 50% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emmissions. I'll only be 75, so I hope to live to see Ambrose get her props!

In other pledge countdowns:

The Tories are now 25 185 days from bringing Polar Bears back from extinction using cloning technology.

We're 34 310 days from creating genetically indestructable wheat strong enough to grow in the tundra wastelands of Saskatchewan again.

The Conservatives are just 43 435 days from completing their plan to raise PEI from beneath the Atlantic Ocean, and

We're just 52 506 days from establishing a high artic research base where Edmonton used to be.

Exciting times!

Make no mistake about it, those of us who survive are going to absolutely cherish the next 144 years of Conservative rule.

Sadly, year 145 is going to be a bitch. But I'm sure any day now the Conservatives will announce a plan to deal with the invasion.

Darn. I may have said too much.

Good luck building your shelters everyone I've gotta go...

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Conservatives promise to cut GHG emmissions by half in time for Britney Spears' 69th birthday....

In other news, the Conservatives have pledged:

To bring Polar Bears back from extinction using cloning technology by 2075.

To create wheat strong enough to grow in the Saskatchewan again by 2100.

To raise PEI from beneath the Atlantic by 2125, and

To establish a high artic research base where Edmonton used to be by 2150.

It's a bold new plan for the future.

Not that many Canadians will survive to see it.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Libs/NDP should politely decline London North, Help May win the seat...

This will NEVER happen, I realize, but I wonder what others think of my own prefered strategy for the Liberals and NDP of politley declining to run candidates against May? The old convention of not running candidates against National party leaders is hardly followed anymore, but still, might it not be an interesting strategy?

Fair or not, it seems Haskett (if she gets the nomination) will be a somewhat "controversial" candidate, and would not the Liberals and NDP benefit as much in the long term (I would argue MORE) from a socially conservative Tory being TROUNCED by a combined Liberal/NDP/Green effort, in what I assume will be a reasonably high profile by-election, than in putting up high profile candidates themselves (as some have suggested, wrong-headedly imho, maybe even a Liberal LEADERSHIP candidate!)?

Wouldn't May beating Haskett 70-30 (totally pulled that out of the hat, probably hyperbole for effect, but you see my point) with a combined "anybody but the right-wing nut" coalition be even better for the Liberals and NDP than simply winning one more seat in the House? Besides, the alternative would seem to be to try to actually WIN the seat, and a high profile Liberal, a high profile Dipper, and May, might risk splitting the vote and letting the Tory candidate actually take the seat!

It would be piling on, of course, but it would be fun to watch (for me anyway), and I think it would be a smart tactic. What's better for the Libs and Dippers than for every political party in the province (country?) not with the initials "CPC" getting to point to London every day from now until the election and say "evangelical" and "Christian" and "Republican" and "Bush" every other word? Seems to me you could virtually guarantee a Tory loss, and spend the whole time painting Haskett as the face of the new Canadian Conservatism.

If they're playing Chess, and not Checkers, I'd personally think the Liberals and NDP would at least mull it over. They won't of course. And, imho, more's the pity. It's about time the Greens had some representation in the House.

More importantly, the potential entertainment value is huge.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dual citizenship in Canada...

Seems as though the government is going to take a new look at dual citizenship. I'm curious to see how this develops, and how it might eventually effect me. I was born in Canada, but I also hold British citizenship (and I have a British passport) deriving from the fact that my dad was born in the UK. Interestingly, I actually had my British passport before I had ever even been to the UK, and it was no harder for me to get than my Canadian.

Now, if the government changes the law to no longer "accept" dual citizenship, how would that effect me? Unlike an immigrant to Canada, the government of Canada has no record indicating that I have British citizenship, or that I hold a British passport. So, were the law changed, would I have to surrender my British passport? If so, how would the Canadian government know to ask me to surrender it, or whether or not I had? Would I surrender it to Canadian authorities or British? What if I didn't surrender it? Could the government strip a natural-born Canadian of citizenship for such an offence? Would I then have to move to the UK? Would the UK take me (unless they change UK law, I'm certain the answer is yes, but for other nations it might not be clear). These are all hypotheticals of course, but interesting questions in advance of any debate. (For the record, I always knew if the law changed I'd give up my UK citizenship, but the logistics and other considerations are interesting nonetheless).

I'd imagine there are a fair number of Canadians who were born in Canada, have lived all their lives in Canada, perhaps have never even been outside of Canada, who nonetheless possess passports from other nations. The Canadian government would have no way of knowing that these people have said passports, unless they've used them to re-enter Canada (and since they presumably hold Canadian passports too, if they've ever left the country, why would they have used their second passport to re-enter?). I wonder how a change in law would be enforced upon these people.

It'll be an interesting debate if it gets that far.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Please Liberal party, you've got to save me!!!

Well, the NDP just lost my vote. Too bad for them, as I've voted NDP in the last two federal elections.

Now, c'mon Liberal party, save me.

'Cause if I end up being left with only the Tories to vote for, I'm not voting at all.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kennedy on Afghanistan... Bring them home now...

AKA "What was so bad about the Taliban?".

I'm pretty much in complete agreement with Paul Wells on this one. Wells says "To be clear: if I had ever thought Kennedy the best candidate for the Liberal leadership, this speech alone would be quite enough to disqualify him in my opinion."

Now, I still haven't been paying enough attention to the race to decide who I would like to be the next Liberal leader but this speech alone is quite enough to disqualify Kennedy in my opinion (copyright, Paul Wells, 2006). So, there's one down.

Given the talk in the media, I guess my choices are down to Ignatieff, Dion and Rae. As Wells puts it, one who supports the mission, and two ditherers. Great. I used to think Ignatieff was too "right-wing" for my tatse (speaking relatively of course). Now I'm starting to think maybe the whole party's too "left-wing" for my taste, if the rhetoric on Afghanistan lately is any indication. I don't know who I'll vote for next time around, but this convention could have a lot to do with whether or not it's the Liberals.

Kennedy says ""If Canada can't have an independent voice in Afghanistan, then where will we?".

I say, if we can't stand with our NATO allies, under a UN mandate (!), fighting the religious fanatics who sheltered and supported Osama bin Laden to keep them from returning to power, at the request of the democratically elected government of Afghanistan, then whose side are we on? If our "independent voice" means we ignore the UN mandate, and abandon our allies in Afghanistan from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and non-NATO partners in Afghanistan such as Finland, Sweden, Ireland and New Zealand then what does that independence say about us? Do we plan to be "neutral" in an area of the world where Switzerland (SWITZERLAND!!!) has taken sides? (Admittedly, there are only 4 troops from Switzerland in ISAF... but it's SWITZERLAND for Pete's sake). Kennedy calls us an "occupying force". Well, that's how the Taliban sees us, but the democratically elected government of Afghanistan has requested our presence. And it's been sanctioned by the United Nations. So, we should pull out because the Taliban and their supporters are upset? We should stop fighting the Taliban, and concentrate on building an infrastructure (and providing construction workers) for them to kill and blow up? Just because we don't like Dubya? To call that idiocy is an understatement.

I hate to say it, but since I'll NEVER vote for Harper's Conservatives, if the Liberals lose me on Afghanistan, I may have to stay home on the next election day (well, not stay home... I've always felt that was unpatriotic... but I'll go to the polls and have to spoil my ballot).

Should be an interesting winter!

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Waitress catches identity thief....

This is great!

A waitress in Ohio asked a customer for ID proving she was twenty-one, and the customer handed the waitress her own drivers license!

Turns out the waitress' walet had been stolen earlier, and the customer had been using the waitress' ID.

The customer will be charged with identity theft and receiving stolen property.

Needless to say, the odds of this happening were pretty astronomical. Great story!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Retired Major General Lewis MacKenzie speaks about Lebanon....

Here's someone I've always respected speaking about the situation in Lebanon:

Retired Major General Lewis MacKenzie.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

64% say Israel is completely or somewhat justified...

Just one day after the National Post declared that "Half of Canadians think Harper too pro-Israel" (despite the fact that the actual poll indicated that only 44% believed this, while 45% believed that his position is balanced and 11% think he's not pro-Israel enough...) a new poll indicates that 64% of Canadians think the Israelis are completely or somewhat justified in their actions.

So, for those keeping track, 56% of Canadians believe Harper's position is either balanced, or too anti-Israel, and 64% believe Israel is either completely, or somewhat justified in their attacks.

Also, 63% believe it is the kidnappers (Hezbollah), not the Israelis who need to compromise to solve the current crisis. Quebec is apparently the only province where a majority (53%) believe that it is the Israelis who need to compromise. Belief that the kidnappers should be the ones compromising is highest at 78% in B.C., 74% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 67% in Alberta and 65% in Ontario.

Keep all of these numbers in mind, and ignore headlines.

Headlines will remind you that 64% is only "almost" two thirds (because it's 2.666% off, and we need to be accurate...) but at the same time will tell you that 44% is "Half of Canadians" (because 44% is "close enough" to half, even if MORE THAN HALF (56%) of Canadians disagree).

It's a fascinating trade the newspaper biz!

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Half think Harper too "pro-Israel"... NOT...

Here's an interesting poll. It's interesting not only because it says Canadians approve much more of Harper's stance than I would have thought, but also because the poll says almost the opposite of what the headline suggests it does.

When I read "Half think Harper too pro-Israel" I assumed that close to half of those polled felt that Harper's position in the latest crisis is too close to Israel. Or AT LEAST that a plurality thinks so.

Here's what the poll found in reality.

Harper's position is:

"decidedly too pro-Israel and is not appropriate" - 44%

"fair and balanced and completely appropriate" - 45%

Now, so far, you could argue that the headline "half think Harper too pro-Israel" isn't so bad, since there's only a 1 point difference between the two options, and one would assume that the missing 11% are the classic "undecideds". So there's some spin there, but not too much. Right?


The problem is, the other 11% weren't undecided.

The other 11% responded that Harper's position "doesn't support Israel strongly enough".

So there are three camps in this poll. 44% think Harper's position tilts too far towards Israel. 45% think Harper's position is balanced. 11% think Harper isn't being pro-Israel enough.

So, while the headline makes it seem that half of Canadians want Harper to have a more "anti-Israel" stance, this ignores the 45% of Canadians who think his stance is fine (more than those who think it's too pro-Israel), and the 11% of Canadians who want us to support Israel MORE. So 56% of Canadians think Harper's stance is either fine, or should move more towards Israel's side, and yet "Half" of Canadians think Harper's stand is "too pro-Israel".

An interesting example of headlines and statistics clashing.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Please, for the love of God, don't call him "Mister"....

OK, all this "Steve" talk has a lot of people making suggestions about what we should call the Prime Minister, including the Globe and Mail's current online poll, which has among its suggestions (as many others have suggested) "Mr. Prime Minister".

Oh, for the love of God no!

You can't just stick "Mr." in front of "Prime Minister" the way one does with "President", it just doesn't work. "Prime Minister" is the proper form of address should you not wish to use the Prime Minister's name.

"Good morning, Prime Minister."

"How are you today Prime Minister?"

"Yes, Prime Minister."

...but NEVER "Mr. Prime Minister".

You would never call a cabinet minister "Mr. Minister" (tell me you wouldn't!) and one should no more refer to the PM as "Mr." Prime Minister than you would call the Minister at your church "Mr. Minister". It's not that I don't like the "Americanization" of stealing the "Mr. President" meme, it's just that for a Prime Minister, it's wrong. As in "incorrect". Or, as I prefer, wrong, wrong, wrong.

OK end of rant. Sorry about that, but the whole "Mr. Prime Minister" thing that people who don't know any better use really gets under my skin, and I've seen it 20 times since the whole "Steve" thing came up.

Knock it off people.


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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Shocking Globe and Mail Poll....

In response to the question "Do you believe multiculturalism remains an appropriate policy for Canada in the 21st century?" currently 55% are saying NO on the Globe and Mail's latest poll!!!

Not only am I shocked that so many Candians would come out against multiculturalism, I'm even MORE shocked that they would do so, presumably at least in part, in reaction to a bunch of idiot terrorists-in-training who didn't know enough to avoid little things like getting caught smuggling guns across the border, running around in camouflage fatigues in a small northern Ontario town (while spending all your time on a remote compound firing off automatic weapons for all the neighbours to hear), and trying to purchase THREE TONNES of ammonium nitrate.

I'm upset that we appear to perhaps be letting the terrorists win by being scared into changing our country in response to their actions.

I'm OUTRAGED that we may be doing this in repsonse to STUPID terrorists.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Canadian Girl places second at Scripps National Spelling Bee

Everyone take a break from all the depressing political news and bashing each other over the head for this feel good story!

I'm sure we all agree we couldn't be more proud!

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The first sign of the apocolypse...

Katie Couric as the anchor of the CBS evening news?!?!?

I heard Bill Maher make a joke about this on the "Real Time" podcast last week, but I thought he was just making it up!!!

I expect to see horsemen any day now.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The PM versus the Press

Paul Wells has a nice exposition of the current "battle" as it were between the PMO and the Parliamentary Press Gallery. It is both informative and balanced, taking a few well deserved shots at the press, not just the PMO.

But I'm not a reporter, so I don't need "balance" in my posts, so here are some of the more disturbing points Wells makes about what the PM and PMO are doing (but really, read the post, it's quite informative):

... during weekly cabinet meetings, reporters, camera crew and Gallery staff wait outside the cabinet room on the third floor of Centre Block, at the only two available exits, to ask ministers questions as they enter and leave. It is unlovely but it is the only sure way to see a given minister and to film or record his answer (or flat refusal to answer) even to questions he didn't want to be asked. This setup allowed us to grill Jane Stewart on the 1999 HRDC audits; Paul Martin on the Clarity Bill at the end of the same year; Alfonso Gagliano on Adscam; Judy Sgro on her pizza parties; Andy Scott on Kashechewan; and so on. The PMO wants to move those scrums downstairs. This would multiply shy ministers' escape routes. The PMO argues that ministers will be sent out frequently and at great length when they have something to say. The problem, of course, is that this guaranteed weekly access to ministers is most useful when they are desperate not to say anything...

...(on) the cabinet-minister thing. Once again: it's very sweet and cute to brag about how eager they'll be to speak to us when they have something to announce, but that argument spectacularly and wilfully misses the point. Ministers have always been eager to speak when they wanted to announce something. They have also, for as long as anyone can remember, been reluctantly, grudgingly, cussedly available, once a week after cabinet meetings, to speak even when it was the last thing in the world they wanted to do because they were, for whatever reason, in a world of trouble. Our worry — so far unproven but very real — is that Stephen Harper has decided he's the first prime minister in decades who gets to spare his ministers that grief...

...This whole mess is developing. Hill reporters have just been informed, for instance, that there will be a "government media availability" at 12:30 in the Commons lobby. This may have something to do with the secret cabinet meeting now taking place — the first unnanounced cabinet meeting anyone in Canada's capital can remember...

Finally, Wells' update, and challenge to readers is classic:

The most surreal exchange from Harper's scrum today, translated by me from French:

MODERATOR: Patrice Roy, Radio-Canada

QUESTION: Mr. Harper, did you hold a cabinet meeting this morning upstairs?
HARPER: I had meetings of the priorities committee and of cabinet.
QUESTION: We saw several ministers leave. It looked like a regular meeting of cabinet. Will it be the norm from now on that you won't invite the press any more, and therefore that you will no longer be inviting Canadians to know when the executive of the government is meeting here?
STEPHEN HARPER: Meetings of the cabinet are private. It's a constitutional thing.
Fun questions:

(1) If the prime minister has a constitutional responsibility to keep cabinet meetings private (humour him here), didn't he just break that responsibility by telling us he'd had a meeting?
(2) Harper was first elected to Parliament in 1993. I have a very large bottle of Polish vodka here for anyone who can find any record of him ever arguing, at any point in the intervening 13 years, that Chrétien or Martin were violating cabinet secrecy by permitting reporters to loiter outside cabinet meetings.

See, no need for me to even write anything to keep posting.

Isn't plagiarism grand!?!?

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Interesting sports poll, pleasant surprise....

Sports Illustrated has a poll on their website asking professional athletes if they would welcome an openly gay teammate. Here are their results:

Would you welcome an openly gay teammate?

Yes 61.5%

No 34.8%
Don't Know 3.7%

Yes 59.6%

No 38.6%
Don't Know 1.8%

Yes 56.9%

No 39.6%
Don't Know 3.5%

Yes 79.9%

No 18.0%
Don't Know 2.1%

I was glad to see no major league had a response rate of less than 50% "Yes" (though clearly, one would wish these acceptance rates were higher in 2006). However, I was pretty impressed (and frankly, a little surprised) that the NHL acceptance level was almost 80%, and the highest of any league!

Not sure if any deep maning can be found here, but I thought it was quite interesting, and worth sharing!

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Poll: 70% of Canadians back mission in Afghanistan.

So, welcome to the world of the duelling polls. This one seems to have a more straight-forward question than the poll from last week, and as it better reflects my view of what Canadian opinion probably is (based, admitedly, on not much more than the fact that it is what MY opinion is), I choose to believe this poll, over the earlier Strategic Counsel poll, which is looking increasingly dubious.

I'm glad this poll came out, because we need to keep doing what we're doing in Afghanistan (if not doing MORE) to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild, and become secure. And if that means combat, that means combat, IMHO.

Afghanistan is NOT Iraq, and people should stop oversimplifying what is going on there in relation to what is going on in Baghdad. We went there for different, more legitimate, reasons than the Americans went to Iraq, and we need to stay until the job is done.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Gold AND Bronze for Canada!!!

Cindy Klassen just won her 5th (5th!!!) medal of the Torino games with a gutsy bronze medal in the women's 5000m!!!

Even more impressive, was the leave it all on the ice performance of Canada's Clara Hughes, who took the GOLD!!! Hughes has won medals at BOTH the summer, and winter games (summer in cycling) but this is her first GOLD medal!!!

Congratulations to Canada's best-ever winter athlete, and our newest Olympic champion!!!

Way to go ladies!!!

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Congrats to Canada's women Figure Skaters!!!

Ok, so I'm not the biggest figureskating fan, but credit where credit is due, our ladies did an EXCELLENT job this evening!!!!

Joannie Rochette finished an extremely impressive 5th (she came in with hopes of top ten) and here's what Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch live blogged right after her performance:

The 20-year-old from Ile Dupas, Canada, entered the free in ninth place and was mesmerizing at the start. She skied high on a triple loop and acted as if she owned the ice. Her spins were lovely and crisp. She jumped with purpose. Her smile at the end said it all: fantastic stuff.

I think a lot of people sat up and took notice of Rochette tonight. And that's right, she's only 20, so she'll be 24 in 2010. Look out for her in Vancouver.

Vancouver's Mira Leung was equally impressive, skating very well and finishing 12th. Leung is 16 (16!!!) with much less experience than most of the athletes in Turin, and this wonderful performance and experience no doubt bodes well for her aspirations for Vancouver as well!!!

Congratulations ladies... we're all very proud!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Todd Bertuzzi, Kris Draper, Shane Doan...

Eric Staal, Jason Spezza, Sidney Crosby.

I'm just sayin'.

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Thank GOD for the ladies....

Well, the hockey game isn't looking so good, so let me take this opportunity to say "Thank God for the ladies!" But not just the women's hockey team, who we all love.

If we get beat by Russia today, it'll be tempered somewhat by the 4 medals we won today, ALL courtesy of women!

From TSN:

"Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg won gold in the women's 1,500-metre speedskating race for her fourth medal at the Torino Olympics - a single Games record for a Canadian athlete. Teammate Kristina Groves of Ottawa claimed the silver.

Klassen becomes the first Canadian woman to win five career Olympic medals. She opened the Games with a bronze medal in the 3,000 metres, followed that with a silver in the team pursuit and later claimed another silver in the 1,000.

Chandra Crawford of Canmore, Alta., got things started earlier today by winning gold in the women's cross-country ski sprint.
Canada's fourth medal came courtesy of Alanna Kraus, Anouk Leblanc-Boucher, Amanda Overland, Kalyna Roberge and Tania Vincent, who won silver in the women's 3,000 metre short-track relay."

4 Medals today!!! and 2 Gold!!! Might makes us feel a little better if we get taken out by the big red machine in hockey.

And not to make us think the men are useless on this year's olympic squad, congratulations to Brad Gushue's rink who made it to the gold medal game in men's curling, defeating the U.S. 11-5. Another guaranteed medal for Canada (colour to be determined) which will bring us to 19 medals... our best winter Olympics ever, by at least 2...

Update: Just for the record, we've won 18 medals now, and by my count 5 of them were won by men (or teams of men). Five of eighteen. Makes me very proud of how our women athletes are dominating in their sports, but it raises an eyebrow too, no?

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Gold AND Silver for CANADA!!!!

Canadians Duff Gibson and Jeff Pain won gold and silver respectively for Canada in men's skeleton today.

Congratulations gentlemen! Very well done!!!

Congrats also to Canadian Paul Boehm who placed fourth.

3 of 6 medals... who knew we were such a skeleton powerhouse!

We now have 11 medals at Torino, just 7 shy of our best finish ever!

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Olympic Women's Hockey!!!

Sweden 3 U.S. 2


I believe this will be the first major international gold medal game EVER to not be U.S. vs. Canada.

Let's hope it doesn't inspire some sort of miracle from Finland!!!

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

I blink and we win another medal!

Bronze for Canadian slider Mellisa Hollingsworth-Richards in skeleton!


7 down... 18 to go!

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Two more silver medals!!!!

Men's AND Women's silver in speed skating pursuit races!

Way to go!

6 down, 19 to go!

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Ripping your own CDs to your iPod is NOT fair use???

This story (h/t to Scruffy Dan) needs to spread through the blogosphere like wildfire. This is perhaps even more disturbing than the whole Sony rootkit debacle and we need to make a stink about it now, before it goes any further.

And someone should email Steve Jobs about this. Maybe he won't care, because this would presumably send more people to the iTunes Music Store, but I'd imagine some people could be turned off of buying an iPod if it means they have to re-purchase their ENTIRE MUSIC COLLECTION!!! A prospect which would easily cost most people THOUSANDS of dollars.

Preach everyone!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Silver win despite broken ski pole!

From TSN:

Beckie Scott of Vermilion, Alta., and Sara Renner of Canmore, Alta., went out in style, winning the silver medal in the inaugural women's cross-country team sprint at the Olympic Games on Tuesday. It was an emotional finish for Scott, who says she'll probably retire at the end of the World Cup season.

A great day for Becky Scott who came in 6th just the other day, despite being a medal favourite (though, this is cross-country skiing we're talking about... it's such a gruelling race, I think any top ten finish is one to be proud of, even if you're a medal contender!) .

Even more impressive (still TSN):

Renner broke a pole in the second lap, that dropped her from the lead to fourth place, 2.4 seconds behind the leader. Scott put them back in the lead on the ensuing lap and they raced among the leaders the rest of the way.
"I didn't panic and before I knew it a Norwegian (coach) had given me a pole," said Renner. "It's not the best thing to happen but at the same time you can't give up."

Not surprising at the Olympics, but great to see another team's coach was right there with a pole for Sara!

Great job ladies!

3 down, 22 to go.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

2 down, 23 to go!

Cindy Klassen wins bronze in the women's 3000m long-track speed-skating!

As the world-record holder, she is probably a little disappointed, but we should all be very proud!!! A young skater from the Netherlands put up a very impressive time for Gold, and a lot of well known skaters (like Anni Friessinger) clearly struggled with such a long, difficult race, but Klassen hung on for bronze despite clearly struggling and even slipping a little on the last corner.

Congratulations Cindy!

23 more medals to go!

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

One down, twenty-four to go!

Congratulations Jennifer Heil!!!

Gold for Canada in Women's Moguls!!!

Great start team Canada, only 24 medals to go!

Update: Here's the story!!!

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Fortier thinks Emerson should step down for by-election...

So, unelected Cabinet Minister Michael Fortier (who says he will not resign his seat should an opportunity to run in a by-election come up, but will wait until the next full federal election) thinks elected floor-crossers like David Emerson should step down and contest their seats in by-elections. Link (subscriber for full story, abstract has the gist)

I think Emerson should step down and run in a by-election too. However, hearing a cabinet minister who never even ran for election in the first place recommend that someone else should step down and run in a by-election themselves (something Forteir has explicitly stated HE will not do) is just too priceless not to comment on.

Who knew that the Tories could do arrogance, political expediency and hauty disdian for the electorate as well as the Liberals? It's pretty impressive isn't it?

It must make a lot of voters who thought they were "Standing up for Canada" want to sit back down.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

"Ontario wants in!"

If you didn't see it, Ontario Premier Dalton McGunity began his first post federal election press conference yesterday by walking up to the podium and declaring "Ontario wants in!".

It was one of the funniest things I've heard a politician say in a long time (that is to say the most intentionally funny thing I've heard from a politician in a long time). Of course he was being (semi) fecitious, and the assembled press got a good laugh, so I wanted to give our Premier props for a good line!

I for one laughed out loud.

Of course a third of the Tory caucus is from Ontario (there are 40 Ontario Tory MPs and only 28 Alberta Tory MPs) so we're still "in", and I imagine Harper will show just how "in" we still are with his cabinet appointments (afterall, it's pretty hard to ignore 40% of the population, if you plan on winning a majority some day!).

I'm concerned Toronto's needs might not be addressed as well as they need to be under a Tory government, but then, it's also hard to ignore a population (the GTA) almost twice as large as Alberta's. Toronto needs to remain successful for Ontario to remain successful, and Harper surely wants (and needs) that, so my worry is on hold for now.

Anyway, nice job Premier! No politician that was actually trying to be funny has made me laugh so hard in a LONG time!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One last round of number crunching....

... before I start to sound like a bitter broken record.

And keep in mind I'm not certain how best for us to fix this, but I think we definitely need to talk about it. Unfortunately, the inequities in our system that lead to a somewhat poor translation of popular vote to parliamentary power only ever disadvantage parites with less power, and advantage those in government, or close to forming a government, so it will always be difficult to effect any reform. But surely with our second minority government in a row, and the weakest minority ever, this is the closest we've ever come to "winning conditions" for some form of reform of how we choose our leaders, and I think it would be a shame if we didn't at least TRY to take advantage of that (and let me just say how VERY impressed I would be with the Tories if they DID move on this file, despite the current system giving them MORE power than their share of the popular vote. The Liberals never gave this more than lip service... because it wasn't in their partisan interests... maybe Prime Minister Harper will be different).

Anyway, the numbers. Here's another interesting way of looking at the relationship between the popular vote, and a party's representation in Parliament. How many seats in the House did each party win, per 1 million votes cast for the party nation-wide? The answer is interesting:

The Bloc won 32 seats for every 1 million Bloc votes cast.
The Tories won 23 seats for every 1 million Tory votes cast.
The Liberals won 23 seats for every 1 million Liberal votes cast.

The NDP won 11 seats for every 1 million NDP votes cast.

I would never say that the popular vote should be some absolute means of determining a party's power in th House, but the numbers above seem DECIDEDLY unfair to me, and it just seems to me that our electoral system could (and should) be reformed to do a MUCH better job of reflecting the popular will of Canadians. This would certainly lead to more minority parliaments. But if the folks in Ottawa can get their act together in this next parliament, we may just decide that that wouldn't be such a bad thing! The Bloc will hate this of course, but hey, if that's not a reason in itself to do it, then I don't know what is!


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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An interesting number crunch...

This doesn't necessarily MEAN anything, but I thought it was an interesting experiment. Divide each parties number of votes (, into the number of seats they received, to see how their popular vote relates to their power in parliament.

The BQ received 30,432 votes nation-wide per seat won.
The Tories received 43,305 votes nation-wide per seat won.
The Liberals received 43,457 votes nation-wide per seat won.
The NDP received 89,333 votes nation-wide per seat won.
The Greens received 665,876 votes nation-wide - no seats.

Again, what this means, if it "means" anything is up to debate, but given how dramatically skewed to the positive I knew the numbers would be quite for the BLOC, I was pretty shocked at how skewed they are to the negative they are for the NDP.

Now, of course, this doesn't mean that the NDP needed 89,333 votes for each seat they received, or that the Tories only needed 43,305 votes to get each seat they got. What I think it actually means though, is that a lot of NDP (and Green) votes are rendered relatively meaningless given the way our system skews the national popular will.

I don't know what the solution is, but I just can't get around the fact that the NDP and the Greens just won 22% of the votes in a Canadian election, and they're being rewarded with 9.5% of the power. That just doesn't seem right. Is it just me, or do others think that if you win one in five votes you should get more than one in ten seats???

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Is it time for proportional representation yet???

We all know, I think, that our chances of getting a PR system out of a majority government are two.... slim, and none.

But now we have our second minority parliament in a row. Is it possible we'll finally get electoral reform? The Liberals have always benefitted from our current system (and still do) but then again, so do the Conservatives. I know the old Reform Party used to talk about electoral reform all the time, but will the CPC actually do anything? I'm not so sure.

The Conservatives just won 36.3% of the popular vote, and low and behold they have 40% of the seats in the House. The Liberals 30.2% pop. vote, got them 33.4% of the seats. And the BQ, got only 10.5% of the popular vote, and they'll occupy 16.6% of the H of C seats (that's a different situation of course, so I'll mostly leave that aside for simplicity).

Add that all up, and 77% of the popular vote just filled over 90% of parliament's seats!!!

How is that possible? Well, of course, once again, the NDP and Greens don't get representation in the House anywhere NEAR their representation in the popular vote. The NDP received 17.5% of Canadians' votes, and will occupy only 9.4% of the Commons seats. And the Greens had better do something good with the money they'll receive based on the 4.5% of the vote they received, because they won't be represented in parliament at all.

Anyway, I'm interested in what people think about some form of PR generally, and I'd love to hear comments from both under-represented NDP/Green voters, and over-represented Liberal/Tory voters.

Just to give you some fuel for discussion, here's the breakdown of parliament if parties received seats in the House based solely on their popular vote...which isn't how PR would actually work, of course, but it is illustrative of what a poor job our current system does of representing the popular will of the nation as a whole (NB: The BQ are obviously a huge anomoly here, so I gave them all the "extra" seats from fractions of percentages, though this number is obviously still not reflective of their unique situation... let's leave them mostly aside for now...):

CPC: 111 seats
Liberals: 93 seats
NDP: 54 seats
BQ: 36 seats
Green Party: 13 seats

Interestingly (although, meaninglessly, since the BQ numbers are so wacky) in this parliament, a Liberal-NDP-Green coaltion has 160 votes... more than a majority.... which perhaps isn't so surprising given that those three parties combined received more than 50% of votes cast last night.

As an NDP voter, this always drives me nuts. I can certainly accept that 66.5% of Canadians have voted for what I see as centre to centre-right parties (Lib/CPC), and that's fine. And (leaving the BQ aside...), that only 22% of Canadians voted for centre-left parties is disappointing, but still, a slight improvement.

But giving 73% of the power to the 66% group, and 9.5% of the power to the 22% group just feels unfair somehow.

Now, maybe I'm just bitter that the Conservatives are about to form a government despite the fact that over 62% of Canadians voted for parties to the left of the CPC, but I don't think this is a left-right issue. When the Liberal were in first, and the Tories in second, the Liberals bennefitted from this phenomenon more than the Tories, and now that the Tories have reversed that, the magnifying effect helps THEM more.

Anyway, I'll continue to mull over the fact that winning 22% of the votes in Canada is sometimes only worth 9.5% of the power, and that 77% of the votes can fill 90% of parliament's seats, and I'm interested to hear from people on this, particularly any who don't see a problem with that.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Wave goodbye...

So, this week all the news is about the possibility of a Liberal collapse and a Tory majority. Just in case this happens, I want to take this opportunity to say goodbye to a few things I used to like, or would have liked to see happen in the future.

Goodbye Kyoto. You weren't perfect, but I'll never get over that "it won't save the planet by itself, so let's not do anything at all" argument that has tormented you all these years.

Goodbye National Daycare program. I thought you were a good idea since Brian Mulroney promised to implement you over a decade ago, and don't feel too bad, most of the country wants you too. But the Tories want everyone to stay at home with their kids, and since they're not interested in creating childcare spaces with any "standards" or "regulations" for the quality of the programs, and few people will have any new choices with their $5 a day (before taxes), they'll probably get their wish by default. But at least the government won't raise our kids, and they'll be sent to expensive, regulation-free, privately-run centres set up by private companies, the way God intended.

Goodbye new deal with aboriginals. I know it took over a year, and a lot of hard work to come up with a new plan that all the provinces, the federal government and first nations groups would all agree on. But it took just as long to come up with a childcare deal with all the provinces agreement, and all the funding in place, and the Tories are gonna scrap all of that too. So, sadly, your deal doesn't stand a chance, and Harper has as much as said so.

Goodbye ban on handguns. You weren't going to make life safer, but I did like the optics of our nation banning people from owning weapons specifically designed to kill people. You sent the right message, and will be missed.

Goodbye income tax cut. I bought a new T.V. with you this year. You will be sorely missed. (And my T.V. will not get a new sound system).

Goodbye rational drug policy. I guess we're all the way back to "lock the criminals up... forget about 'treatment'" we'll see how well our new war on drugs goes. Based on the American experience, I'm certainly confident.

Goodbye "we do not engage in hostilities that are not sanctioned by the United Nations". I always thought it was a good idea to stop countries from attacking one another for reasons other than self-defence, so I'll miss the charm of "international law", and "sense of proportion".

Goodbye undisputed marriage equality. If we're lucky, the equality will stay, but undisputed is about to go back to "disputed". I hope everyone enjoyed the debate the first time around, 'cause here it comes again!

Goodbye money for cities. Guess I'll have to buy a car.

But, of course, with every goodbye, there is a hello, so hello to all these wonderful new policies!

Hello GST cut! You are pretty meaningless to my everyday life, and I'd be better off with an equivalent income tax deduction. But on the bright side, you are a stupid economic policy that won't help productivity, or help accomplish anything beyond getting people who don't know any better (and don't know any economists) to vote Tory. (Oh... that actually a "bright" side???) But hey, I guess I'll save a quarter the next time I buy a CD!

Hello Crawford! I'm going to see you on T.V. a lot more now. And you're a charming Texas town, so I'm quite pleased with that!

Hello private Health Care! People don't like you I'm afraid, but the Liberals never uninvited you from the party, so you were always going to arrive eventually. The only difference now is that the Tories will give you a lift, and buy you the first round.

Hello abortion debate. No one's seen you since before I was born, and everyone I know was pretty happy with that. It'll be interesting to meet you once Tory supporters start demanding the party address you!

Hello property rights! How we ever developed a constitution without specific protection for property owners is beyond me. I mean, what were the fathers of Confederation trying to say? That it doesn't matter whether or not you own property? That "rights" belong to humans, regardless of economic status, and that there is no need to constitutionally protect your "ownership" rights? We just went straight from having special treatment for the upper classes, and protection of their things, to equality, and a complete lack of special treatment or acknowledgement of the rights of "owners"! 'Bout time we reversed course on that.

Hello Foreign Minister Stockwell Day! You were always one of my favourite punchlines, and I'm guessing that will continue once it is both punchline AND reality....

I'm sure I'm missing a million hellos and goodbyes that we'll all need to say if the Tories get a majority (some of them huge no doubt... I didn't rack my brain over this post or anything) . Feel free to add them in the comments!

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