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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Canada’s federal deficit gone by 2014?

The Vancouver Sun carries a piece today quoting the Conference Board of Canada’s forecast that Ottawa should return to a surplus position one year ahead of schedule based on how the economy is unfolding. This must come as bad news to the federal opposition parties as they generally want only glum economic news so Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Tories will look bad.

“If spending restraint can be kept on rack, the federal government should be able to balance its books a full year earlier than projected. The federal debt-GDP ratio will peak at about 35 per cent in 2010-11 — still well within manageable levels and significantly better than every other major industrial economy.”

– Conference borad of Canada
July 2010

This assessment of Canada’s chances of returning to balanced budgets without raising taxes reinforces the government’s own position.

According to this year’s federal budget estimates, the deficit would be whittled down to $1.8-billion by 2015 due in part to cuts in the public service, a freeze on foreign aid, limited growth in military spending and higher EI premiums. But the board’s chief economist Glen Hodgson and senior economist Matthew Stewart argue the government is on track to be near surplus in 2014, or a year ahead of schedule.

How will Michael Ignatieff spin this, I wonder? Perhaps he’ll try to downplay the importance of Conference Board’s forecasts. Or perhaps he’ll just try to pretend nothing’s happened and Canada’s economic outlook is terrible. Nothing like a poorly run economy to spur a change in government.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Canadians support France-like burka ban

According to the Toronto Sun, a Leger Marketing online poll found that 54 per cent of respondents favour the government following France’s lead and not allowing women to wear burkas in public for safety and transparency reasons. Only 20 per cent of respondents said Canada shouldn’t consider a ban because it’s an issue of freedom of religion and freedom of expression. A full 15 per cent said it didn’t affect them either way.

Of older Canadians—those 65 and over—71 per cent agree with a ban, and only 40 per cent of Canadians 18-34 years old said burkas should be banned. In Quebec, where the question of reasonable accommodation for new Canadians has been debated for some time, 73 per cent of respondents are in favour of such a ban.

I’m not surprised at the results. It just does not sit well with many Canadians that people walk around in public with their faces covered. It’s not our way. It has nothing to do with freedom of religion and it’s a vile practice that suggests to us women are considered second class citizens by Muslims and that Muslims believe their men are not able to control their sexual urges.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Equality under the law gives way to progress under progressives

Having now lived in Canada for over 50 years, it pains me to see how far we have drifted from an ideal of equality under the law. There was a time not so long ago when our laws were meant to apply equally to all. Unfortunately, though, that time is perhaps lost forever.

Under Canadian law, individuals and private organizations cannot discriminate on the basis of gender, race, etc. As we have seen recently, however, our federal government can and does discriminate in its employment practices without fear of arrest or other sanction.

If one’s a participant in Toronto’s annual Gay Pride parade, one need not fear arrest regardless of exposing one’s wedding tackle, as Michael Coren calls it, or engages openly in lewd behaviour.

Furthermore, if you are a participant in a large protest or parade such as the ones put on by Toronto’s and Ottawa’s Tamil community, you can block a major high-speed highway for several hours with police cooperation and without arrests being made. You can also block traffic in front of the Ontario legislature, just make sure your protest has 1,000 or so participants—apparently our laws do not apply to large groups and gatherings.

Someone can call me dreadful, hurtful things and I can seek redress under the criminal code. But if I qualified as a person who is “identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination” as defined under Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, I could make a complaint to a human rights commission and it won’t cost me a cent. Individual rights, you see, are now subordinate to group rights. This makes equality of individuals under our laws a sham. It gives more rights to those individuals who belong to certain groups the government identifies for special treatment under the law. That, in effect, makes me a second-class citizen. That’s okay with progressives and they’re not happy to stop there.

Remember that our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms restricts its limit on free speech by stating “except where the statements made are true or are made in good faith.” In other words, truth is a defence. That’s about as fundamental as anything about democracy. It is what made the Charter’s limitation palatable. Apparently, though, this isn’t good enough for the progressives and the human rights industry. The Canadian Human Rights Commission wants to remove truth as a defence. Yes, the CHRC has listed this on its Web site as one of the recommendations in its Special Report to Parliament, Freedom of Expression and Freedom from Hate in the Internet Age. It’s right there under Part V: The Way Forward, Recommendation 5. The CHRC tries to justify removing truth as a defence by claiming “hatred against an entire group could never be true.” In other words, to protect certain groups considered worthy, it is prepared to destroy the fundamental human right of free speech as it applies to individuals. How progressive of them!

If you want to display symbols, such as flags, of outlawed organizations in public places, or honour the assassinated political head of an outlawed terrorist organization such as the Tamil Tigers, go right ahead—it’s quite acceptable and you’ll almost certainly get Liberal MPs to join in.

If one’s an aboriginal, one can block highways, damage public property and threaten residents while receiving OPP cooperation and assistance. If, however, you are a non-aboriginal Caledonia resident, you risk police arrest if you carry a Canadian flag near any protesting aboriginals.

During the recent G20 conference in Toronto, keeping the peace became such a mangled concept that at times on that weekend, it seemed no law at all applied, and the police made up their own on the fly to suit the circumstances. At times, vandalism occurred right in front of police without any attempt on their part to prevent it. At other times, just being on the street seemed enough grounds for individuals to be arrested.

That’s the new progressive way it seems.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

John Tory contemplating a run for mayor of Toronto?

The National Post reports that John Tory, former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, is reconsidering his January decision to sit out the November municipal election as mayoral candidate to “pursue a different course with my life and career.” Seeing how well right-of-centre candidate, Rob Ford, has been doing against a predominantly left-of-centre field, heavy pressure from friends and political allies and encouraging internal polls seem to have led to second thoughts.

Goodness knows Toronto needs a steady, conservative hand on the tiller, but I question whether this is in John Tory’s best interests. Surely he must still be feeling the sting from last year’s loss of the provincial by-election that forced him to resign as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader. And remember this came after losing his own seat in the disastrous 2007 Ontario general election in which the Ontario PC party he led won just 24 of 107 seats. We should also remember he lost in 2003 against David Miller, the outgoing mayor who has made such a hash of things at Toronto’s city hall.

Nothing that I’ve read or heard gives me any confidence that John Tory will succeed at another attempt at electoral politics. I’m sure he’s doing a great job as chairman of the Toronto City Summit Alliance and as talk-show host at Newstalk 1010. That’s the sort of thing he’s good at—very good at. But he’s not so good at winning elections. He’s good at helping others get elected, but, apparently, not himself.

Notwithstanding his string of previous electoral losses and his treatment by foes and friends alike after losing to Liberal MPP Rick Johnson, Tory is said to be optimistic after private surveys suggested he’d do well against front-running candidates Rob Ford and George Smitherman, former Liberal cabinet minister.

I can’t help wondering why he wants to get mired in that mess they call Toronto city hall. Toronto’s finances are like those of a third-world country and the mayor has limited powers to turn it around. And why is it that Tory seems unable to make up his mind about such things? Why can he not make a decision and move on. Remember his indecision over whether to resign after the 2008 leadership review vote (he got 66.9%)? It took him three hours to decide on something he must have been thinking about for months before the PC party meeting in London.

That inability to quickly and decisively make decisions raises doubts about the sort of mayor he’d be. I think John should stick to his guns and sit this one out.

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Monday, July 26, 2010

When did MADD become part of Dalton McGuinty’s government?

Did I fall asleep and miss when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) became part of Dalton McGuinty’s government? I must have because, when Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne held a news conference today to announce strict new rules for young drivers, she was accompanied by the CEO of MADD. And friends who have been pulled over in a police spot-check have reported they had a representative of MADD at their car window along with a police officer.

I find this distasteful. MADD is one of those “pretend” charities that exist more for the benefit of those who run it than anything else. People have this image of Mothers Against Drunk Driving as a charity that spends most of the millions it raises annually stopping drunk driving and helping families traumatized by fatal crashes. To the contrary, as a Toronto Star investigation in 2006 revealed, most of the so-called charity’s money is spent on fundraising and administration, and only about 19 cents of each donor dollar is used for charitable works.

This is shameful. Of course, MADD’s chief executive officer Andrew Murie, at the time, defended the imbalance in expenses by claiming that paid telemarketers and door-knockers were performing good works because they educate the public as they ask for cash. For years MADD had been claiming over 80 per cent of donations were spent directly on MADD Canada programs, but when the Star obtained MADD’s financial statements, it was clear that millions of dollars went in payments to the fundraising firms, making up a big chunk of its charitable programs.

At the time of the Star’s exposé, it reported that Elizabeth Tromp, director-general of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Charities Directorate, said “When a professional fundraiser has been retained, it can reasonably be inferred that the intent of the expenditure is fundraising.” I agree with that.

The Star also reported. “MADD Canada founder John Bates, who received the Order of Canada for his anti-drunk driving work, said the group created at his kitchen table many years ago has lost its way. [Emphasis mine]

This is a group which exists for its and its executives’ aggrandizement and self perpetuation. Its charitable work is a means to its perpetuation and a continued source of employment income for its executive.

This is not the sort of organization I want to see playing a quasi-official role in Ontario’s policing and government policy and law making.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Court forces RCMP to readmit failed candidate to police academy

The Toronto Sun has an opinion piece by Ezra Levant, blogger and human rights pundit, that’s makes me wonder whether I slipped down Alice’s rabbit hole. Levant tells us about a fellow who couldn’t make the grade at the RCMP’s police academy, washing out after 12 weeks. The man then made a claim to the Canadian Human Rights Commission against the RCMP for, apparently, racism…and won.

The man, an immigrant from Iran, has won his case after about 10 years of suing and appeals. Despite the human rights tribunal acknowledging he “had difficulty performing competently in scenarios, and that this was largely a function of his inability to listen to people, to integrate the information he received and to formulate an appropriate course of action based on that information,” this man was able to get a favourable ruling from the Federal Court of Appeal. Last week, that court upheld a human-rights ruling calling the RCMP racist and ordering them to readmit the man to the academy.

The man doesn’t even sound stable, for, as described by Levant, when he was told he did not make the grade, he had a breakdown and classmates had to escort him to the infirmary because he was “vomiting, shaking, hyperventilating and was incoherent.” Doesn’t sound like police material to me.

According to Levant, the Federal Court of Appeal that handed down this ruling is the same court and the same judge that ordered the Stephen Harper government to bring accused terrorist Omar Khadr back to Canada. Should this ruling be allowed to stand, I’m sure similar ones will follow, and I can only wonder at the quality of the police recruits we’ll be seeing in the future.

Surely this ruling should be appealed.

[Source]

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Super Tony interrupts his diner to save drowning woman

Industry Minister Tony Clement interrupted his dinner around 7:30 p.m. last night to help rescue a woman from drowning in Ontario’s Muskoka River. After an hysterical woman banged on the front door of his Port Stanley, Ontario home and alerted him and his family to the plight of her friend, Minister Clement, his wife and father-in-law rushed out to the river’s edge where they saw the woman’s friends on the shore screaming.

Several others followed the minister as he jumped into the water fully clothed. And, after catching up to the woman in distress, the MP’s wife and father-in-law got her into a life-jacket and pulled her to shore.

Heroes all.

News reports are not clear whether the lucky woman was a Conservative—probably wasn’t enough time to ask before jumping into action. Seriously though, such acts of heroism while not rare are inspiring.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Long-form census revisited

Since my last post on the subject of our mandatory long-form census document, I’ve been following the story in the mainstream media. It seems as though CBC News’ Power & Politics and Rosemary Barton, its guest host, are alternately fascinated or distraught by the prospect that our government might chose to handle the national census differently in 2011 than in the past.

As most readers know by now, the federal Cabinet has decided to keep the mandatory eight-question census form for every Canadian household, and to continue the threat of criminal prosecution if we don’t answer it. But it has decided to make the “long form” version of the census questionnaire—with an additional 53 questions and sent to 20 per cent of homes—no longer be mandatory.

The government’s motivation, we have been told, is the intrusiveness of the questions and the coercive nature of the penalties for non-compliance, which includes a jail term. This is reason enough for me to support the government on this. It isn’t as if we plan to scrap the census altogether, but rather to modify the process of collecting the data. Other democracies are trying different methodologies, why shouldn’t we? And the long form would still be sent out, but instead of being mandatory for 20 per cent of households, it would be voluntary for a greater number of homes—30 per cent.

Surely in a country where polling is routinely done with sufficient statistical accuracy for our leading newspapers and television networks to pay for and publicize them—even with margins of error of “plus or minus six per cent 19 times out of 20”—there are cost-effective ways of getting answers to the 53 questions on the long form without invading the privacy of Canadians or threatening them with prison terms.

“In the online survey of a representative sample of 1,012 Canadians, almost half of respondents (47%) oppose the federal government’s decision to scrap the mandatory long form census, while 38 per cent support it. Opposition to the federal government’s move is highest in Ontario (54%) and British Columbia (53%).”

– Angus Reid Public Opinion poll
July 24, 2010

On the aforementioned Power & Politics program, Rosemary Barton, with her most serious lip-compressed face on, asked Industry Minister Tony Clement why he did not just drop the threat of fines and jail, to eliminate the coercive nature of the requirement to fill in the long form. Minister Clement patiently replied that if the fines and threat of jail were dropped, then the process would be voluntary, which is pretty much what the government is proposing. I’m not sure that she got his point, but at least she spared us that loud cackle of hers.

Notwithstanding the fact recent polls show a majority of the public are in favour of retaining the mandatory nature of the long form of the census, I continue to hold that much of the information requested is not information that I care to hand over to anyone, and especially not to the government. The information is private and nobody’s business but mine—beyond that, I shouldn’t need to justify my position.

Ironic, isn’t it, that many of those who believe it’s okay for the government to demand on threat of fine or jail the answers to personal questions on the census, are the same ones who refused show identification to Toronto police during the G20 meeting, simply because as Canadians they didn’t, and shouldn’t, have to.

That’s my whole point: regardless of the usefulness of the long-form information, no Canadian should be required by law to provide it.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Canada’s Budget Deficit Narrows 41% in April, May

The mainstream media has been giving a lot of airtime for several months to those who preach about the impossibility of ever balancing the federal budget without raising taxes and/or slashing program spending on health, education and other social services. And all the time Stephen Harper’s government has been insisting that we can grow our way out of deficit within five years by controlling spending for defense, international aid and government operations—and, of course, not having any longer to fund the Economic Action Plan (stimulus program).

“For the April and May together, revenues increased by $2.4 billion, or 7.0 per cent. This gain reflected higher goods and services tax (GST) revenues, personal income tax revenues and other revenues, partially offset by lower corporate and non-resident income tax revenues. Program expenses were down $0.5 billion, or 1.4 per cent, mainly reflecting lower transfer payments. Public debt charges declined by $0.2 billion due to a decrease in the average effective interest rate on the stock of interest bearing debt.”

– Department of Finance

Looks to me as if the Conservatives are on the right track, and recent economic news seems to support their contention that economic growth from our recovery from the recent financial crisis and related recession will go a long way to reduce our budget deficit—just as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen have been saying all along.

Our Department of Finance reports today that Canada’s budget deficit narrowed 41 per cent in the first two months of the current fiscal year. In April and May of this year, we recorded a deficit of $4.4 billion, down from $7.5 billion in the first two months of the previous fiscal year.

This is further evidence that in order to discredit the prime minister and his Conservative government, opposition parties and their cheerleaders in the media will contradict and criticize everything the government says and does regardless of whether that misleads and confuses Canadians.

Time and again we have seen government initiatives and assessments rebutted and refuted, often quite disdainfully. And time and again we have seen the prime minister and his government proven right. We here in Canada are fortunate to have as competent a government as we now have.

The role of opposition parties is to oppose and critique, but is it really to tear down and denigrate everything the government does and says? The roll of news media may be to hold governments to account, but is it really to act as a coordinated wing of the opposition parties? If something is in Canada’s best interests, the opposition owes it to Canadians to criticize but not to disparage the governments efforts.

Liberals and New Democrats want to soften Canadians’ resolve to resist all new attempts to raise their taxes so that new socialist programs like a national government-funded daycare program can be implemented. But they’ll not be straight with Canadians. They’ll raise taxes ostensibly to reduce the deficit, but spend the money on social programs that we cannot afford or really need.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Whites need not apply in Jason Kenney’s department

When did being “white” as in white-skinned become a bad thing? Somewhere along the way, equality of opportunity in Canada became “whites need not apply.” This seems true in our federal government and on television where visible minorities at times equal or outnumber those of us who descend from Europeans, which flies in the face of Canadian demographics.

The most recent example of this discrimination was reported on yesterday by the Toronto Sun. According to that newspaper:

“Sara Landriault, a stay-at-home mother trying to re-enter the work force says she was shocked to find out that she was barred from a applying for a job at citizenship and immigration because she was white. The position of administrative assistant was only open to aboriginal applicants.”

The report asserts that Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, says he was “shocked” when he heard of this practice. I’m not. And I don’t think most Canadians are. For years now, we have heard regularly of affirmative action in hiring practices in police forces, fire departments and other public agencies. Women are given preferences, people from visible minorities are given preferences, people with disabilities are given preferences and so it goes.

I have a lot of time for Jason Kenney, I believe he’s the best immigration minister we’ve had for years, but I do not believe his shock over the hiring practice of his department is genuine.

According to the same newspaper report, affirmative action is enshrined in Canada’s constitution and legislation dealing with minority hiring practices has been on the books for decades. So why be shocked the laws are being applied within his department?

Shameful it may be that white people are discriminated against, but shocking it isn’t.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Conservatives slipping but still lead the Liberals

Federal politics in Canada seems to have settled down to the opposition parties not being able to overhaul the Conservatives in the polls and the Conservatives not being able to get into solid majority government territory, 40+ per cent. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories were ten points ahead of the Liberals, up a few points from the poll before. This week, the PM’s party has slipped a few points in the EKOS poll, but are still leading Michael Ignatieff’s Grits by a healthy margin of about seven points (32.4 to 25.5 per cent).

The troubling news for the PM though is that EKOS calculates that, if an election had been held last week, the Conservatives would have lost seats, going from their current 144 to 123, and the Liberals would have gained ten seats. The NDP would have been up four seats to 40. On the encouraging side, we have the Conservatives leading in Ontario (36.8 per cent to 29.9), the last real bastion of support for the hapless Ignatieff.

The Liberals will claim this is all good news for them since their leader is keeping PM Harper from his coveted majority, while the Conservatives will say that despite the haranguing of the opposition—cheered on by the media—over treatment of Afghan detainees, Guergis-Jaffer affair, handling of H1N1, et cetera, the Tories still have maintained a healthy lead over the Grits.

I see the status quo as a stalemate, which, if not broken soon, will cost us dearly as a country. Minority governments have their place, but the prospect of a forth in a row is unpleasant. The opposition parties are making such a mockery of our parliamentary committees they are beginning to resemble Star Chambers. Every move is made with an eye on the polls, every piece of legislation is offered based on short-term gain in public opinion. We have peace and order, but need better government than a minority parliament will allow.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

RCMP clear Helena Guergis and Rahim Jaffer

The RCMP have cleared Helena Guergis and Rahim Jaffer insofar as they reportedly have been unable to find evidence to warrant criminal charges against them. This case is just one more example of the House of Commons jumping the gun and beginning its own committee investigations before police have looked into a matter—so long as some political gain is to be made.

The Guergis-Jaffer affair was a tawdry one and one that could have been handled more adroitly by the prime minister. That being said, I don’t see Ms. Guergis returning to cabinet any time soon, though I’d not object if she was invited to re-join the Conservative caucus. As far as I’m concerned the former cabinet minister forfeited her seat at the table after her meltdown in Prince Edward Island.

Several New Democrats, Liberals and Conservative MPs were part of a political witch hunt that didn’t serve the people of Canada in any way. Some opposition MPs came to Ms. Guergis’s defence when they thought they might make the PM look bad, not because of goodwill they might have towards her.

Hypocrisy and crass politics rule on Parliament Hill. It’s all a dirty business and not for the faint of heart.

 

© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Professor Ignatieff to U of T; Taxman McGuinty to Ottawa as chief Grit

Fresh off recent speculation by Jim Travers in the Toronto Star that Michael Ignatieff, federal leader of the Liberal party, is being considered as a replacement for Janice Stein, Director, Munk Centre for International Studies, I read here and here about the possibility/likelihood that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is a contender for the federal Liberal leadership.

Interesting to speculate, but I doubt it could happen. Not that McGuinty would not be many Ontarians’ choice for federal leader—even after breaking so many promises they still seem to love the man—but the Liberal Party of Canada has a tradition of alternating their choice for leader between candidates from Quebec and the rest of Canada. Ignatieff has no Quebec connection and is seen as very much part of the Toronto crowd, so it’s very likely that the next leader of the LPC will hail from La Belle Province.

There is one scenario I can imagine. Let’s say Ignatieff continues his swoon in the polls and the Liberals drop below 20 per cent to near the level of the New Democrats. Panic will set in among the Grits and they’ll be looking for a quick fix as they did at the end of Stéphane Dion’s tenure. In such a scenario, the Liberals may bypass a Quebec candidate like MP Denis Coderre—since Liberal fortunes in Quebec are at a low ebb with little upside—and seek to secure their vitally important Ontario base with a leader like Dalton McGuinty, with his proven record of generating majorities in Ontario. In this scenario, runner up to Ignatieff, MP Bob Rae may not be the saviour the Grits will be seeking. After all, Rae could be seen by many as being a liability in Ontario and yesterday’s man. The younger, more-popular-in-Ontario McGuinty may just fill the bill for them.

Dominic LeBlanc, MP for Beauséjour, would be the better choice, of course. This is an impressive young man who could be seen as a “substitute” Quebec candidate to follow Ignatieff’s return to academia. Unfortunately, LeBlanc lacks the high profile of McGuinty and the party back-roomers may see the sort of landslide victory they so desperately need in Ontario too much of a long shot under the member from New Brunswick.

Some think McGuinty may feel he owes the Ontario party one more campaign in 2011, and if successful, a couple of years more as premier. But I’m not so sure. Give him a shot at being prime minister and I believe Dalton the Taxman McGuinty will jump at it.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas

It does seem excessive to arrest someone for blowing soap bubbles—that is, unless the simple act is seen in the context of a confrontation between protesters and much harried police officers. But we live in an age of absolutes and our police, and military, are expected to carry out their dangerous responsibilities without offending, never mind hurting, the less offensive of their adversaries.

During the G8 Summit at Toronto, Courtney Winkels was, apparently, told she would be arrested if she didn’t stop blowing soap bubbles at a police officer near the restricted area—and later she was, in fact, arrested, but on another charge.

Excuse me if I feel no sympathy for this young woman. She allegedly had a lawyer’s phone number written on her arm and was intentionally trying to antagonize the police officer. So much for lawful, peaceful protest.

With hoodlums running about smashing windows and torching police cars, with noisy throngs of thousands of so-called peaceful protesters taunting police officers, the otherwise innocuous act of blowing soap bubbles takes on an entirely different significance, especially when directed at a law enforcement officer.

Under such trying circumstances, such an act signifies disdain for the law and those who enforce it. It signifies the sort of contempt in which many on the far left hold our laws and institutions, such as the ones who wrote:

“On June 26 and 27, the political representatives of the world’s greatest thieves and murderers gathered in Toronto. They held their ‘G2o Summit’ in a billion dollar armed camp financed with public money stolen from vital social programs.”

There are people like those who support the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) who believe nonsense like the following from the OCAP’s website:

“These [G20] ‘leaders’ have shredded the public sector and social spending, criminalized the poor, immigrants and racialized communities, continued to plunder Indigenous lands and trash the environment, deported our families and friends, gutted the unions, and closed hospitals and schools while they grant tax cuts to the rich and corporations and boost police and military budgets.”

These people are dangerous. They were the instigators of the Queen’s Park riot in the summer of 2000. They are not against poverty, but against any form of democracy that involves representative government—let alone the Westminster Model of parliament. They will only be satisfied with a state run by them for them. And the “them” are the far-left Trotskyites and Anarchists. The OCAP were for many years heavily funded by major labour unions, but even they have back off and have been distancing themselves from these radicals.

OCAP promotes direct action—or, as they call the tactic, “direct action casework”—which almost always involves violence and damage to public and private property and confrontation with law enforcement authorities. Labour unions love to demonstrate. They’ll demonstrate about demonstrating, and they too will defy the law to get their message out. To these you can add the dozen of other protesting groups, some violence-prone, some harmless.

Between these radicals and other misguided souls and our right to peace, order and good government stands our various law enforcement units, and thank God for that.

It was Courtney Winkels’s choice to interject herself into this potent confrontation, and her choice to further antagonize police with her silliness. She was apparently quite prepared for the consequences since she bore the phone number of a lawyer on her arm. Who then is to blame for her arrest?

To Ms. Winkels I say, if you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ignatieff criticizes fighter jet deal initiated by Chrétien

The Canadian government has finally announced it plans to spend $9 billion on the purchase of 65 new fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. A related maintenance contract will likely bring the full cost to about $18 billion. The new stealth, multi-role fighter jets—which are expected to be the next-generation warplane for all NATO member air forces for the next several decades—will replace a fleet of aging, but recently upgraded, CF-18s.

“We have to have fighter jets. Canada is a massive country, and when you think purely about response times, there is nothing else that can get across the country as fast as a fighter jet.

“Also, when you are dealing with the Arctic, there is very little that has the kind of survivability of a fighter jet in the air under those kinds of harsh conditions.

“Everybody else is updating their fighter jets, and there simply hasn’t been a technology developed that can replace it at this point.”

– Mercedes Stephenson
Military Analyst

It is curious that our intrepid leader of the official opposition, Michael Ignatieff, is criticizing the choice of this airplane when it was a previous Liberal government headed by his mentor, Jean Chrétien, that originally signed the deal for the F-35 fighters to replace the CF-18s. Under then prime minister Chrétien, the Liberal government signed a memorandum of understanding with Lockheed Martin to develop the Joint Strike Fighter. And in February 2002, former defence minister Art Eggleton signed a deal in Washington with former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld that ensured Canada would be a partner in the joint strike force.

While it may be worth having a debate over the dangers of sole-source military contracts, it’s a bit rich to hear Liberal critics attack the Conservative government for completing a procurement process they themselves started over a decade ago. And, it’s worth recalling that the last time a Liberal government reneged on a major military contract it cost us about a billion dollars to cancel that agreement. Our navy has still to recover from that disastrous decision by Jean Chrétien—motivated by crass politics.

But, of course, Ignatieff wouldn’t know any of this as he lived abroad in those days.

Canada has been a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter process since 1997—long before the Lockheed Martin Corp. won the bid. And although Canada was among the first of America’s allies to sign on to the research and development of the fighter, it isn’t the only ally to do so. Britain invested 10 times more than Canada did to take part in the process, and was rewarded with share of the contract. Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Italy and Turkey are also on board with the program. The reason the F-35 is popular with so many nations is the enhanced effect and potential cost savings of having allies share similar equipment.

Nearly 100 Canadian companies and thousands of technology jobs with ties to the Joint Strike Fighter program are expected to benefit from the federal government’s decision to buy U.S.-built warplanes.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Long form census

I don’t agree very often with Liberal blogger Warren Kinsella, but his blog post, HERE COMES THE LONG FORM CENSUS ELECTION!, is right on. I have been very uncomfortable filling in the long-form census in the past. I don’t trust any organization with sort of personal information asked for. Time and again we hear of misuse and carelessness by private organizations and by governments, despite promises—even laws—protecting our privacy (see Kinsella’s article for a list of significant lapses).

I also agree this is not much of an issue with which to go to the polls. I can just see Michael Ignatieff criss-crossing the country in an election campaign, ranting how terrible it is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it voluntary to fill out the long-form, and will no longer threaten citizens with jail terms if they refuse to divulge highly personal information to federal bureaucrats.

I notice that the moaning and hand-wringing over this issue seems mostly to be coming from organizations, public and private, which use our personal information for their own (useful or otherwise) ends. I hear and read little from individuals bemoaning the loss of an opportunity to hand over quite intrusive private information about themselves.

I agree with Kinsella that a mandatory long-form, with the sort of private questions it demands be answered, would likely not pass a privacy law challenge. And the fact it’s the federal government asking the questions doesn’t make a difference to me. I’m a private person and have a right to be so.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Making mountains out of rumoured molehills

The mainstream media is so desperate for news its turning small items into major controversies and rumours into front page stories. We seem to have lost our sense of proportion, and traditional journalistic fact-checking has been replaced with speculation, gossip and rumour-mongering.

The Toronto Star’s National Affairs Columnist, James Travers, had a piece in that newspaper a day or two ago in which he mused about Michael Ignatieff being “touted as an eventual successor to Janice Gross Stein at the university’s [University of Toronto] prestigious Munk School of Global Affairs.” The newspaper published the column without, apparently, checking the facts with the subject of the piece, media-available Michael Ignatieff. What could have been more logical? So this idle speculation is published in a national newspaper and is immediately refuted by Ignatieff.

Is this the Star’s new way of checking sources: publish speculation and then ask the subject to confirm or deny?

And even after a firm denial, the speculation continues as a story being followed closely by the cable news networks. Our two national cable news networks are so poorly programmed, we’d be better served if they just showed a test pattern for about 16 to 20 hours a day and did their news coverage in the remaining four to eight hours—at least then we’d be more likely to get something worth watching and listening to.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Liberals: we’ll huff and we’ll puff, but we’ll not blow your house down

The same old stale Liberal Party of Canada tune was played again late Monday night in the Canadian Senate when seven Liberal senators failed to show up for the vote on the Conservative “omnibus” budget in the Red Chamber—despite this being a whipped vote. Senators voted 48-44 against the changes made by opposition members of the finance committee to Bill C-9 and passed the legislation. The opposition senators wanted to remove portions of the Conservative budget bill and put them in separate legislation.

The Tories hold 52 seats in the 105-seat upper chamber, which is just shy of a majority. Had five of the seven absent Liberal senators showed up for the whipped vote, the budget bill would have been sent back to the lower House. The vote ended further speculation that the Conservatives might call an election if the bill did not pass.

So once more the Michael Ignatieff-led Liberals huff and puff over Conservative legislation, telling Canadians how terrible it is. But in the end they make sure enough of their members stay away from the vote, ducking their responsibility as the official opposition to vote against legislation they believe is not in Canada’s best interest.

If Michael Ignatieff is ever to be taken seriously as a potential prime minister of Canada, he needs to put enough starch in his shirts to make up for his lack of backbone. He must have discovered that it’s easier to talk a tough game than to play one. That’s why, I suppose, he prefers tossing odious personal insults long-distance at the prime minister rather than forcing a meting head-to-head at the ballot boxes of the nation.

I wonder when he’ll quit and sign-up officially as a China-booster like one of his predecessors has done. I hear there’s lots of money to be made in that quarter and it beats travelling the country in a bus that couldn’t make it through the first week of its tour.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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If Harper is the devil, is Ignatieff one of China’s latest Canadian lap dogs?

Further to my recent post about Michael Ignatieff implying that Stephen Harper is the devil, I have noticed that other Liberals seem to share the sentiment. You know, the reference Ignatieff made when, speaking to an audience of Liberal supporters at a Calgary Stampede breakfast on Saturday, the leader of the official opposition said Canadians “can smell the whiff of sulphur” coming off the Conservative prime minister. Apparently, Michael O’Shaughnessy, Mr. Ignatieff’s press secretary, stuck by the chief Grit’s personal insult, and when pressed to elaborate said that the whiff of sulphur is “quite evident when one faces the Conservative government on a daily basis.”

Ignatieff Michael Ignatieff
Photo credit: Edmonton Journal

Whatever happened to the philosophy of respecting the office (of prime minister) even if one does not respect the man? Just one more Canadian tradition tossed on the rubbish heap by the visitor—recently turned tourist—Ignatieff and his underlings.

So, it seems Liberals officially believe the prime minister of Canada and his government are devils surrounded by the putrid odour of rotten eggs—one can only assume the Liberals’ inference is to the Judeo/Christian/Muslim interpretation of the devil. Pretty strong stuff, eh? But surely not surprising since the Liberals have been implying for months now that our senior military command and military forces on the ground in Afghanistan are war criminals—or, at least, that they act like war criminals. Remember that, at the post-World War II Nuremberg trials, “following orders” was not a defence, and those who committed war crimes while “just following orders” were as guilty as those who gave the orders.

In an attempt to blacken the reputation of Stephen Harper and his ministers, Michael Ignatieff and his party had no qualms in smearing the reputations of our military in the eyes of the international community. Even if they have no respect for the Conservative government, I’d have thought the Liberals would have some residual respect for Canada. But that’s, I suppose, too much to expect from Ignatieff.

Earlier this month, while on a trip to China, Michael Ignatieff took great pains to find some moral equivalency in the human rights records of China and Canada. Incredible as it sounds, he actually suggested there could be a comparison between a democracy such as Canada and a one-party dictatorship such as China, a state in which there has been a record of crimes against humanity that caused tens of millions of deaths, with glacially slow progress towards addressing such egregious patterns of human rights abuse.

And, of course, Mr. Ignatieff knows better, for while teaching rights theory at Harvard University, he routinely cited China as one of the world’s worst rights-abusers. But now he follows in the footsteps of Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, former prime ministers who had an unhealthy/unrealistic regard for China, while ignoring or soft-soaping its human rights record. Trudeau toured China during the height of the Maoist purges, but never once made mention of them in his travel memoirs. Chrétien’s connections to China are odious as many find it unseemly that the former prime minister who was so silent on China’s human rights abuses while in office now makes a tidy fortune cultivating relationships with those same abusers.

Chrétien and prominent Liberal industrialists have a significant financial interest in Canada not rocking the boat and annoying China by expressing concern over human rights abuses in that nation. So, I suppose, it should not surprise anyone that Chrétien’s protégé should travel to China to assure that country’s leaders that, under Liberal Party rule, Canada will be a willing partner and, through its silence, a condoner of China’s ongoing suppression of pro-democracy movements, Tibetan separatists, the Falun Gong spiritual movement, Christian missionaries, Uyghur Muslims and others.

It is a sorry state of modern-day Canadian liberalism, when one of its primary leaders plays lap dog to Chinese oppressors.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Monday, July 12, 2010

How does a pig’s ear smell?

After testing new lows in the polls, Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, headed out to Calgary to try and collect some face-time with everyday Canadians. God knows he needs the exposure to try and convince average Canadians he’s one of them after spending most of his adult life in other countries like the United Kingdom and the United States.

“You know you smell the whiff of sulfur coming off the guy [PM Stephen Harper].”

– Michael Ignatieff

Seeing him posing in Quebec-made cowboy boots and a Stetson, Ignatieff reminds me of a politically immature Stockwell Day back when Day was the new Canadian Alliance leader—remember the infamous wetsuit incident and how well that turned out? And, three years after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez likened former president of the United States, George W. Bush, to the devil during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, we have Ignatieff using similar language to refer to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. How statesmanlike of him. You know he’s down there in the proverbial dung heap when he starts to copy Hugo Chavez.

If the prime minister is the devil, what does that make Ignatieff, Dracula? Why would anyone chose to infer that a know Christian is the devil? What sort of a man does that? Can it be ignorance of basic Canadian decorum, or just small-mindedness of the sort found in weak pompous wannabes?

Now that he is borrowing from Chavez’s speeches, does Ignatieff also intend to borrow the progressives’ favourite Latin American leader’s domestic policies? I wonder ….

And this from a man who fired his buddies in the opposition leader’s office because they couldn’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear. From where I sit, the Liberal party of Canada is still led by a pig’s ear.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Friday, July 9, 2010

Lloyd Robertson passes baton to Lisa LaFlamme…finally

The host of CTV National News With Lloyd Robertson announced at the close of his Thursday newscast that he plans to retire in the latter half of 2011 after 35 years at CTV. And, according to the Ottawa Citizen, Lisa LaFlamme will take over the anchor’s chair. Robertson is 76, and I don’t know what took him so long to step aside and give someone else a shot at the job. Surely he doesn’t need the money and he must have other interests to occupy himself.

I’ve nothing against Robertson, but what is it about network news readers that they feel they must hang in there for decade after decade. Is it that, on average, they are a vacuous lot and news reading is all to which they aspire? Are there no intellectual challenges to which they are drawn?

I welcome the choice of Lisa LaFlamme as Robertson’s replacement and hope her appointment will be made permanent. She has served her apprenticeship well both as anchor and as a reporter in the field, including important domestic and overseas assignments. She’s a hard news journalist, covering stories from wars to elections to natural disasters, from some of the world’s most dangerous locations. Ms. LaFlamme is currently National Affairs Correspondent for CTV News and substitute host for CTV National News.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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When’s a tax not a tax? When it’s a “fee”

Anew “eco” fee is being applied in Ontario to the price of some products sold that require special disposal. But don’t worry, folks, it’s not a tax—at least, not according to Ontario’s Environment Minister John Gerretsen. The new fee has been applied since July 1 on products like detergents, aerosol cans and fire extinguishers. The fees range from a few cents for some products to up to $6.66 for fire extinguishers weighing more than 5.5 pounds.

The fees are not a tax, according to the hair-splitting minister of the environment, because companies that make or distribute the products governed by the program pay the fees to Stewardship Ontario, a government body regulating the program, and the funds go towards ensuring those materials don’t end up in the landfill.

We can all take comfort in knowing that according to Stewardship Ontario, the eco fee is not a hidden tax grab and an attempt to extort money from struggling families already hit by the egregiously large and burdensome HST. Their website assures us:

“The eco fee is not mandatory nor is it a tax—stewards have the option to pass the fees they pay Stewardship Ontario on to consumers. As one of the costs of doing business, the eco fee may be reflected in the product’s sticker price—in which case the consumer would be none the wiser. Or it may be itemized on the cash register receipt and added to the product price at checkout. In either case, none of the monies collected in the form of eco fees go to government or Stewardship Ontario.”

To begin with, their explanation is very disingenuous since it states that the “eco fee is not mandatory.” Of course it is. Those paying the fees need not pass them on to the consumer, but it is mandatory for them to pay the fee if it is levied. And just how many will absorb this additional cost of doing business in Ontario do you think?

Here’s my definition of a tax: it’s mandated by the government and I have to pay it one way or another, it’s a tax. And, when it stinks like a tax, it’s almost certainly a tax.

And when it’s quietly slipped in by the backdoor, taking consumers off guard, it’s almost certainly a tax grab.

 

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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Does a 10-point Tory lead in the polls mean a fall election?

The recent EKOS opinion poll suggests that the federal Conservatives hold a margin of 10.5 per cent over Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal Party of Canada—34.4 per cent of respondents would support the Tories in an election, compared with 23.9 per cent for the Liberals. This is quite a turnabout in Liberal fortunes, for when Parliament closed they were almost within the margin of error of being in a dead heat with the Tories nationally (Liberals 26.2 per cent, Conservatives 30.6 per cent).

“The Liberals should be particularly alarmed about newfound Conservative strength in Ontario, where they now have a sizeable lead. Even in supposedly security-wary Toronto, the Conservatives enjoy an unprecedented lead.
The bad news for the Liberals continues with signs of Conservative life in Quebec. The key demographic propelling the Conservatives appears to be seniors, where nearly half now support them.”

– EKOS Politics
July 8, 2010

Further evidence that the Liberals are hemorrhaging support is that they have slipped into second place in their Ontario stronghold, 2.6 per cent behind the Tories.

This level of support places Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in a clear position to win a strong minority if an election were held. And given the weak campaign performances of the Liberals under Stéphane Dion and Paul Martin, Tories could stretch their lead during a campaign to majority territory. Nothing I’ve seen from Michael Ignatieff suggests he’ll be a strong campaigner. He’s too prone to speaking off the cuff and seems reluctant to, or incapable of taking a clear position and sticking to it. Such is Ignatieff’s stature in Canada, he could prove to be a negative factor in a Liberal campaign as Canadians shy away from making this “visitor” their next prime minister.

So what, if anything, does this suggest about the prospects of a fall election? I believe it strengthens the likelihood. Positive Canadian job numbers this week, PM Harper’s strong performance at the G8 and G20 meetings and the prospect of a belt-tightening budget to come in 2011 will encourage PM Harper to seek a renewed mandate, hopefully one that will provide him with a majority of the seats in the House.

And, if the opposition continue their brinkmanship in their threat to defeat/split up the Tory budget bill now before the Senate, the prime minister could very well get the excuse he needs to go to the people in the fall.

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