Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’ll be taking a break from blogging over the Christmas and New Year season, returning in early January 2011. I’ve had a wonderful second year blogging about politics and such. When I started Russ Campbell’s Blog it never occurred to me that it would receive many tens of thousands of visitors and page views within its first couple of years, with several of you taking the time to leave comments.

It’s not much fun writing if no one reads your stuff, so a big “thank you” to all you readers, and I hope you’ll return next year. This is the season for concentrating on family, so I’ll be doing just that.


To all, good cheer and good health.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year!



© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How obnoxious does Don Cherry need to be?

Don Cherry, wearing an outrageous pink suit, made an ass of himself at the inauguration of Toronto’s new mayor, Rob Ford. Had Cherry dropped his pants and mooned the audience, he would not have made a worse impression than he did with his silly comments.

Cherry had a mediocre pro hockey playing career, but a successful, though rather short, coaching career, which he parleyed into a long run as a Canadian personality. Good for him.

But he’s not a great hockey mind—his Bruins team (1977-78) had 11 players with at least 20 goals each, plus Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. How lucky was that? People say you have to be good to be lucky, but Cherry’s coaching record suggests he really wasn’t that good.

His Bruins team—though stacked with talent—made the Stanley Cup finals twice in the mid- to late-1970s, but lost both times to the Montreal Canadiens. Then, while up a goal with less than two minutes left in the seventh game of a 1979 semi-final playoff, Cherry’s Bruins were penalized for having too many men on the ice—a coaching gaffe of monumental proportions that got him fired. The Canadiens tied the score on the resulting power play and went on to win the game in overtime. How smart was Cherry then? And things didn’t improve much in Colorado (his next coaching stop), where Cherry was pretty much a failure.

Cherry talks a good game when promoting his hockey insight on Hockey Night in Canada, but couldn’t back it up when he was the part-owner and coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga IceDogs. In the IceDogs’ first three seasons his team won a combined total of 16 games. Even when Cherry took over as coach in the fourth season, the team managed only a pathetic 11 victories. His team missed the playoffs four straight years with him in charge.

We’re used to seeing Don Cherry play the buffoon on television on Saturday nights, but those in attendance yesterday at Rob Ford’s inauguration got to see and hear him do it in person. Lucky them.

After city councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker jokingly kissed Rob Ford on the cheek, Cherry said as he introduced Mayor Ford, “That kiss—is that the kiss of death that they give like, ah, I guess that’s what they do around here. Well actually I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything. I thought I’d get it in.”

Pithy, eh?

He went on to say, “What’d you expect, Ron Maclean here, to come here? But, you know, I have to, I am befuddled, because I thought I was just doing a good thing coming down with Rob, and I was gonna do this here and it was gonna be nice and the whole deal.”

Always articulate.

The rest isn’t worth boring you with—mainly a lot of vindictive abuse of the media/press and abusive comments aimed at about 50 per cent of Toronto’s population.

No one should be surprised for Cherry is a bully—we see that demonstrated often on TV, and he proved the point beyond any doubt off-air yesterday.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Does Gail Davidson’s complaint have more to do with her political agenda than Flanagan’s guilt?

A British Columbia-based lawyer and activist, Gail Davidson, has filed a complaint with the Vancouver police, asking that they investigate Tom Flanagan’s recent on-air attempt at humour. Flanagan, a political-science professor at the University of Calgary and a campaign manager for Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006, made comments on CBC’s Power & Politics program that suggested that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be assassinated.

Flanagan’s comment has been picked up by media around the world. Most in Canada who know Flanagan or watch him on Power & Politics understand his comment was little more than a poor attempt at sarcasm and was not intended to be taken seriously. Even some journalists who are not known to be right-leaning—Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail and CTV’s Question Period comes to mind—seem to have taken the words as they were intended. Others have not.

Davidson reportedly alleged that Flanagan’s statement qualifies as a breach of Section 464 of the Criminal Code, which applies to “… every one who counsels another person to commit an indictable offence… .” Section 464 applies even if the counseled offence is not committed and is a very serious offence.

Does Davidson really believe a crime has been committed here? Apparently so for she wrote in her complaint to the Vancouver police that Flanagan “counseled and/or incited the assassination of Julian Assange contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada.” And Davidson is a lawyer and must know how egregious it is to file trivial complaints with the police.

In 2004, Gail Davidson—a co-founder of the group Lawyers Against the War (LAW)—in an attempt to bar the president of the United States from entering Canada, laid torture charges under the Criminal Code of Canada against President George W. Bush. The charges concerned the publicized abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and similar alleged abuses at Guantánamo Bay. Apparently Davidson was acting on behalf of LAW. In that instance, Judge William Kitchen acceded to the Attorney General’s objections and declared the charges “a nullity”.

As a lawyer, Davidson most certainly knew that that a sitting head of state always has diplomatic immunity and that her allegations would not go far in a Canadian court. Yet she persisted.

In 2009, Davidson is quoted as saying that, because President George W. Bush has been “credibly accused” of supporting torture in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Canada has a legal obligation to deny him entry. Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act says foreign nationals who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity, including torture, are “inadmissible” to Canada.

In 2001, Davidson asserted, in part, that: “The simple fact is that Canada is engaged in illegal military strikes against Afghanistan, and in the process has violated a number of principles embodied in international law… .”

So, as I see it, Gail Davidson has a political agenda with her activism spreading far wider than the few examples offered above. Her activism seems to include using all tools available to score points against her political “enemies.” Hopefully, the Vancouver police will not be for her what Lenin referred to as “useful idiots.”


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Will Cancun mark the beginning of the end of climate change hysteria?

It really doesn’t seem that many are paying attention to the climate conference being held at Cancun in Mexico. Apparently, attendance is down from the Copenhagen conference of a year ago, and many of the delegates who are in attendance are strictly going through the motions.

“… the much heralded [Kyoto] Protocol was a singularly stupid piece of counterproductive social engineering that encouraged the migration of good jobs to China and other low wage countries — without helping the environment at all.”

– Walter Russell Mead
Kyoto Fraud Revealed

The massive failure of Copenhagen will not be repeated at Cancun since not very much is expected to be achieved at that Mexican resort—global action to combat climate change is now acknowledged by many to be but a pipedream. The much ballyhooed cap-and-trade scheme of U.S. President Barack Obama is pretty much dead, as is Chicago’s once vaunted carbon-trading market.

Will Cancun finally consign the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the dustbin of environmentalism history? Let’s hope so. As of July 2010, some 191 states have signed and ratified the protocol. But has the Kyoto Protocol actually achieved anything more than making millions for climate change activists like former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and promoting job migration to low-wage, low-regulation, high-pollution Third World nations? Kyoto certainly has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and that was its central purpose.

Most of the world’s growth in energy-intensive manufacturing is occurring, not in the countries that are expected to make and achieve Kyoto targets for CO2 emission reduction—i.e., the developed Western democracies—but in the developing world, and especially in China, Indonesia, India and Brazil where hard targets for greenhouse gas reduction are nonexistent.

And some of the countries that have been praised for making achievements under Kyoto have been disingenuous about their claims.  Take the European Union’s claim that, by the end of last year, emissions produced by the current 27 member countries have fallen by more than 17% since 1990. What a joke that is.

As energy intensive manufacturing has moved to the developing nations such as China, so too have the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the activity. But the EU countries have not cut their consumption of goods and services—far from it. So their claims have been no less than a fraud as pointed out recently by the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente who wrote: “The EU is actually responsible for 40 per cent more CO2 today than it was in 1990, if you count the goods and services it consumed as opposed to the ones that it produced.”

Kyoto’s fatal flaws are many, but a notable one is that it only measures carbon emissions from production, and has virtually ignored the emissions generated by goods and services consumed by individual countries.

The public has become more skeptical of the climate-change industry’s claims of impending doom and have less tolerance for inflated statistics. Couple that with the media’s reduced coverage of climate change and you see something close to public apathy approaching. And that’s a good thing, for perhaps we can begin to turn our attention to the real problems of pollution to our air and water, and to other activities which are damaging our environment at an alarming rate.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thank you for nothing, Premier McGuinty

In a news release today, the Fraser Institute tells us that Ontario ranked only fifth in its Canadian Provincial Investment Climate 2010 Report, while Alberta led all provinces with an overall score of 8.1 out of 10—Ontario scored a disappointing 5.2 out of 10.

“The Western provinces, led by Alberta, have cemented their positions as the best places to invest in Canada,” said Charles Lammam, Fraser Institute senior policy analyst and co-author of the report.

“Business investment is a powerful driver of economic growth, providing the necessary resources to acquire new machinery and equipment, introduce new technologies, create new job opportunities, and improve productivity. Citizens, politicians, and bureaucrats are becoming more aware of the importance of business investment as a critical determinant of current and future economic prosperity.”

– Fraser Institute

In contrast, the report cites “lack of fiscal prudence, driven by runaway government spending and massive deficits” as some of the reason for Ontario’s mediocre ranking.

The news release concludes with this cautionary note:

“Failure to embrace these kinds of policies means lower rates of job creation, high levels of unemployment, and slower income growth. It’s time for Ontario… to get on the fast track to economic success.”

Sad isn’t it that Ontario—our most populous province and the one that was once considered Canada’s economic engine—should now find itself a have-not province and be so far behind Alberta in providing the fundamentals necessary for an attractive investment climate.

New Brunswick scored ahead of Ontario—yes, New Brunswick!

This pathetic performance of Ontario is not unexpected: In November, Ontario’s Liberal government’s own Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress (TFC) released a study, which points to troubles with productivity in Ontario’s economy. It states that Ontario ranks 14th of 16 equivalent-sized North American states and provinces, and that Ontario businesses invest less in research and development and produce fewer patents as those in comparable jurisdictions in the United States.

We have long known that big government, excessive red tape and high taxes do not create prosperity—private investment does. Central planning of the economy is a failed strategy as most of Eastern Europe discovered in the last century and is not a formula for prosperity—private investment is.

Premier McGuinty should know these things. But apparently he does not as his job-killing Green Energy Act demonstrates. The TFC’s November report shows Ontario’s government underestimated the the Act’s cost to electricity consumers and points out that rising electricity costs could nullify some of the 50,000 new jobs the Liberals claim will be created.

“Trust Dalton McGuinty to continue pushing bogus ‘green’ energy alternatives—and charging Ontarians a huge premium for the privilege—at a time when the centrally planned green economy is collapsing.”

– Lorne Gunter
National Post

It’s a simple case of economics 101.

When we switch to green energy we may produce 50,000 new jobs, but the higher energy prices provoked by the Green Energy Act will destroy as many (or more) jobs in existing energy-intensive industries such as manufacturing and agriculture—there go our car-parts makers and industrial farms as their input costs rise by 10 per cent or more, forcing them to close plants and lay off workers. Net effect on jobs? If we are lucky, nil. If not, we’ll have a net loss of jobs.

So much for McGuinty’s centrally-planned job-making boom. All around the Western world, the pipedream of a carbon-free energy future is dying, but in Dalton McGuinty’s province, it’s alive and well, at least, as far as his Liberal government is concerned.

As Lorne Gunter of the National Post recently observed, “There will be green initiatives that make money, but they will not be mandated into success by governments. They will arise from yet unknown places, driven by private-sector ingenuity as prices and scarcity for carbon fuels make innovation necessary.”

But how’ll we get that private sector ingenuity if we continue to score a dismal 5.2 out of 10 on investment climate in the province of Ontario?

Change of government anyone?


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Grits vote with Tories on Afghanistan mission extension

Liberal MPs joined forces with PM Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to vote down a Bloc Québécois motion condemning the government for breaking its promise to withdraw Canadian troops entirely by next July. In so doing, the House of Commons has given an indirect endorsement of the government's decision to extend Canada’s military training mission in Afghanistan. The Bloc motion was defeated 209-81, with New Democrats and Bloquistes in support.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that 950 Canadian soldiers will remain in Afghanistan until 2014 in a strictly non-combat role in which they will help train the Afghan military.

Some Liberal MPs were widely expected to support the Bloc motion in a show of disagreement with Michael Ignatieff’s decision to support the Tory’s stand on Afghan. Apparently that was not the case and any dissent among the Liberal caucus remains behind closed doors.

I’m pleased to see political parties like the Grits and the Tories coming together in the best interests of Canada. Of course, we couldn’t expect anything like that from the separatist Bloc, who want to split up the country, or the socialist New Democrats, who are far more loyal to international anti-American movements than in Canada’s national interests.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Rogers to buy MLSE?

Oh joy! The gang that can’t score runs wants to buy the gangs that can’t score goals or baskets. What a novel idea. In what some fear as a potential “death blow” to the TSN all-sports network, Canadian communications giant Rogers Communications Inc. is rumoured to be interested in buying the controlling 66 per cent share of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment now owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

Rogers owns the hapless Toronto Blue Jays professional baseball team, a team that has seldom been in contention to win anything since its glory days in the late 1980s and early pre-player-strike 1990s, culminating in back-to-back World Series championships in the 1992 and 1993. Since Rogers Communications purchased controlling interest in the baseball team on September 1, 2000, the Blue Jays have been a perennial failure on and off the field. During that time, Rogers has shown no indication it has the slightest idea of how to run a sports franchise.

“It wouldn’t be a death blow to TSN, nothing would at this point. But having the Leafs brand under the same [Rogers] roof would be a huge dent to the competition [TSN]. The power of the Leafs brand is second to none in this country and rivaled by very few sports companies in the world.”

– Toronto Sun
(Quoting an executive
familiar with the
Canadian sports
broadcasting landscape)

Undaunted, however, it apparently desires to try its hand at running Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies hockey teams, the Toronto Raptors basketball team and Toronto FC soccer team. The recent history of these teams has included far more failure than success, with the flagship Maple Leafs NHL team setting records for on-ice futility scarcely matched by any other professional sports franchise anywhere.

It should be noted at this point that around noon today, Toronto Sun reported:

“In a release responding to reports that Rogers is about to make a play to buy the 66 per cent share of MLSE owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, the company didn’t deny interest but refused to acknowledge it as well.”

Rogers Communications is the parent company of Rogers Sportsnet, a regional group of sports cable channels and a competitor of TSN. Sportsnet reportedly pays about $800,000 for each regional telecast of a Maple Leafs game. Even when the Maple Leafs are struggling on the ice, ratings for their games continue to be strong. Rogers currently has the rights to more Leafs games (28) this season than any other network, followed by CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada (24), TSN (17) and Leafs TV, an MLSE property at 13.

Certainly not doomsday news, but hardly great news for the much mistreated average Toronto sports fan.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.