Monday, July 28, 2008

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It... Oh Yeah, If Only...

Had a chuckle reading Cherniak's post today. Some of the responses are just precious... It's great when a Conservative has an epiphany...

The Rat: "Have none of you ever heard that old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? Is Canada so broken that only Liberal "Big Ideas" can fix it? I guess it never occurred to you that maybe people are just sick of those big ideas, especially social-engineering-type ideas, you guys always have."

Dear Rat: That's what I say. Harper hasn't had to do ANYTHING because he assumed control of a perfectly functioning country, with the best economy of the G8, and basically, the best nation on earth.

It's true that he didn't have to have any ideas, when he assumed a perfectly functioning economy, a government that governed - instead of leaving EVERYTHING besides military funding and the "Department of Foreign Embarrassment" to the Provinces.

It's true that Harper had NO plan besides a bone-headed tax cut that went against what most economists would have considered SANE, at a time when everyone knew the US economy is tanking.

It's true that Harper didn't have to do anything - and that's exactly what he did: nothing.

"Mega-projects"? Heck, he couldn't even bungle himself through a "Micro-project". His cabinet is a sham and a farce - everyone except for Mister Emerson - who Harper had to borrow from the Liberals. Oh, and we should clarify to you, my friend, that even most Conservatives can't agree on how much government involvement there needs to be. The opinions range from Harper's inner circle's "let the provinces take care of it", to many former PCers (hey, they were almost ALL former PCers in the Mulroney era) who believe in government spending higher than anything any Liberal PM ever did.

Speaking of government spending, did you know that Stephen Harper is the most SPEND-HAPPY PM Canada has EVER had? That includes Pierre Trudeau (who incidentally spent more on the MILITARY than any other PM - including our current one - "Mr. Bungles").

Thanks Rat - for admitting what many Cons don't have the cajones to... That there was really nothing wrong with Canada before Harper assumed control.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Yeah... If only... Not to worry, however, as we soon will have a new PM. We'll have a new PM, who WILL act on:

- The environment
- Income Tax cuts
- Repairing Canada's image abroad
- Speaking for Canada's First Nations
- Not being a Republican/Bushie lap-dog
- Running a Federal Government LIKE a GOVERNMENT, and not just a tax collecting body
- The rampant assault on Canadian freedoms by Corporate conglomerates
- Being a compassionate government FOR the people - vs. a government OWNED by Alberta oil interests.
- Truly cleaning up Ottawa - not just saying you will. The last person to really ACT on corruption and scandal was PM Paul Martin. He even went as far as pointing the finger at some lower end denizens of his own party in Quebec - at the eventual risk of electoral loss - just to ensure that some guidelines were established. Let's see Harper do something even remotely similar...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Barack Obama For President - Of The World...

This morning my family and I watched CBC Newsworld - transfixed - by the incredibly moving speech Presidential Candidate Barack Obama gave a massive crowd at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany. Words cannot describe the feelings and emotions racing through this liberal's mind as the future President brought back memories of JFK in his moving Berlin address. Of course Mr. Obama did not make the mistake of calling himself a doughnut... lol...

Mr. Obama moved the crowd - and viewers worldwide - with one recurring theme echoing through his speech: the need for peace and global cooperation to combat the ills with which this world is beset (climate change and pollution, war, terrorism, state chauvinism, and the siege mentality within which many peoples see themselves). He emphasized the Berlin experience during the airlift, and the peaceful end to the Cold War as examples of the direction the world needs to take.

A transcript of Mr. Obama's speech is available here. Worth a read, but I urge you to HEAR it when it comes up on YouTube...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Goodale Weekly Email - Why The Green Shift?

Had a chance to read through Ralph Goodale's last two update emails... He has some more solid facts to support the case FOR the Green Shift, AND he points out holes in the Harper environmental plan.

Keep in mind, Mr. Goodale's letters are in response to a torrent of Conservative junk mail (some of questionable source - can MPs bombard another MP's riding with partisan junk mail?) falling into Mr. Goodale's riding. It comes after loud, vocal, and pronounced fear-mongering by Saskatchewan and Alberta Conservatives, in a feeble attempt to frighten voters into voting Conservative.

A real good read:


Critics of Stephane Dion’s Green Tax Shift plan conveniently fail to mention that Stephen Harper has his own plan to fight greenhouse gas emissions. It’s called Turning the Corner. You can look it up at

Rather than just attacking Mr. Dion, the critics need to compare the two plans.

The Conservative approach relies heavily on government regulations intruding into private enterprise – which business leaders hate.

Mr. Harper’s regulations – if they’re going to be effective in tackling carbon emissions – will drive-up operating costs across the economy. The Conservatives admit as much in the fine print on their Website.

But unlike Mr. Dion’s proposal, the Conservatives provide no tax cuts or other offsets to cushion the impact of the higher prices they will cause.

Furthermore, it will take a small army of new bureaucrats to design, administer and enforce the Harper regulations. And the enforcement mechanism he has in mind is quasi-criminal sanctions like fines and imprisonment.

In Saskatchewan, Mr. Harper’s greenhouse gas regulations will hit the entire oil and gas sector, as well as IPSCO steel, the Potash Corporation, cement companies, chemical producers and many others -- including utilities, like SaskPower and SaskEnergy.

Wait a minute!

Are the Harper Conservatives threatening criminal penalties against provincial Crown Corporations. Premier Wall may want to put Saskatchewan’s constitutional lawyers on red-alert.

Those who find it so easy to throw stones at Stephane Dion should keep a closer eye on Stephen Harper.

As pointed out by distinguished, independent, western experts like Jack Mintz at the University of Calgary and Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University, the Harper government has not been honest or straight-forward in its propaganda around these issues.

According to Dr. Mintz, under the Conservative plan, “Canadians could be faced with brownouts, high fuel costs and lost jobs”.


The lies and smears used by Conservatives to attack Stephane Dion’s tax reform proposals show how worried the Harper government is about the Dion plan catching on.

The principle is simple – we should cut taxes on the good things that we want more of (like incomes, investment and innovation), and we should begin to collect taxes on those things that are harmful (like pollution, waste and greenhouse gases).

Across the country, the vast majority of economists and environmental experts agree that Dion is right and Harper is wrong.

The “disinformation” the Conservatives are peddling has been discredited as “vitriolic” and “dishonest”.

Their biggest allegation is that putting any price on carbon pollution would discriminate against western Canada due to our large concentration of fossil fuel industries. But the Dion plan is designed to avoid such unfairness.

For example, in the case of Saskatchewan’s petroleum industry, two-thirds of our oil is directly exported to the United States and consequently would not be subject to any “carbon tax” in Canada.

The remaining one-third is processed into fuel products, mostly gasoline, and gasoline at-the-pump is explicitly exempted from Mr. Dion’s proposal, because it’s already subject to an equivalent federal excise tax.

Moreover, the “carbon tax” suggested by Mr. Dion would NOT be levied at the wellhead level. To do so would place all the responsibility on the oil and gas sector, and that would not be reasonable.

Instead, the Dion plan would apply the tax at the wholesale level which spreads the overall impact among producers and consumers alike, and balances the costs across all sectors and regions.

And one final point, this “Green Shift” plan uses every penny raised from putting a price on carbon pollution for substantial income tax cuts benefiting every Canadian family and business.

Youth Crime At Record Lows, While Violent Youth Crime Rises...

Found this gem in a CTV website story about Harper's little "speech" at the Calgary Stampede (in it Harper discusses "getting tougher" on youth crime:

"Recent Statistics Canada figures show that while overall youth crime is down significantly in the past 15 years, youth violent crime has surged 30 per cent since 1991."

Interesting. My, what you can do with statistics, if not explained clearly. But, no-one ever looks at the causes behind the figures. Why has youth violent crime "surged"? Youth crime is DOWN, and SIGNIFICANTLY. Youth have more options nowadays, more jobs, etc. So, how do we explain the increase in PERCENTAGE of violent crimes? Let's simplify it for the slightly less mathematical minds out there: Imagine you have 10 apples, slightly bruised, with 3 of them really rotten (or 30%). You take out 5 apples, but not the really rotten ones. Now you have 5 apples left, with 3 of them really rotten - a whopping 3/5 or 60%!!!

Anyone who has studied Sociology and Psychology, finds it pretty easy to explain the seeming hike in violent crime. Violent criminals suffer from more extreme psychoses than non-violent offenders. They are likely to be affected in a more extreme way, and less likely to change their minds when the degree of punishment changes, or economic times change, or their social milieu changes. If you manage to reduce overall crime with effective measures for youth, you are less likely to reduce violent crime, as these criminals tend to be more "hardened" and suffering from more extreme psychoses.

The point about "degree of punishment" is also important in refuting Conservative arguments. Simply bringing in a death penalty, or harsher punishment, won't stop violent crime. As a matter of fact, offenders of that mindset may be MORE LIKELY to commit a violent act, if it means they will stay out of jail, or get out of the harsher punishment. The whole, "I'm never going to the chair, you'll need to take me in dead" argument. People who have psychoses, and cannot realistically negotiate wrong from right probably won't be likely to be curbed from action by another year or two in jail, and a life sentence will probably only make them commit violent acts to stay out.

The Cons will try to argue the same old ignorant argument, even laying on the "biblical" eye for an eye" routine. It will win a lot of hearts with the doorstep whisper campaign (hot-button politics always wins some easy votes). It will create a media buzz, as the networks try to outdo each other to display the most graphic look at violence on our streets. As able-minded, thoughtful people, WE need to stand up and paint this policy for what it really is: a last ditch Conservative attempt to curry favor with voters - in the only way they know - with the only issue they claim to own.

I wish the Cons good luck. If this is the only issue that casts them in a good light, and they're desperately reaching for it in this pre-election period, then we stand in pretty good stead.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Watching a U2 concert in 3D at Canada Place here in Vancouver last night, I was struck by the audacity of the United States and Western Allies to stand in the way of the world's jointly agreed upon charter of human rights... Then, I see this...

Illegal detainees from an illegal war, DO have rights - according to a Declaration to which the US was one of the original signatories. In fact, the US was THE driving force behind this declaration. Kinda makes you wonder just what has happened to the US in the intervening years? What happened to the champion of world human rights? What happened to the dream of the Founding Fathers? What happened to the broadmindedness that wrote the Constitution?

Who are Western Powers (namely the US) to question other nations' human rights records (China, Zimbabwe, Iran, etc.), when we are all equally questionable in our records?

Just a reminder to all... Here is the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights...

In particular, please note Articles 5, and 7 to 11 (good message to the US - who was an original signatory to the Declaration). It is, however, all good reading... Shame on our government for idly standing by, while arguably the most influential nation on earth - the nation with the biggest influence on media and public opinion worldwide - tramples over the rights of illegal detainees AND it's own citizens.

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

    Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

    Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

    Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

    Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

    Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

    Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

    Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

    No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

    (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

    (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

    (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

    (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

    (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

    (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

    (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

    (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

    (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

    (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

    Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

    (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

    (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

    (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

    (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

    (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

    (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

    (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

    (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

    Reprinted with permission:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

MP Goodale Makes Some Solid Points On Green Shift & Saskatchewan

Another week, and another well thought out Goodale Weekly Newsletter/email. Ralph explains the Green Shift Plan and it's implications for Saskatchewan. He makes some great points... Have a read:


By Ralph Goodale, M.P.


The short answer is yes!

Some say a cross-country “carbon tax” may affect Saskatchewan more than other provinces, because of the high level of greenhouse gas emissions in our resource-based economy.

But it’s crucial to examine who would actually have to remit payment to Revenue Canada.

This would not be a retail tax, like the GST. It would apply “upstream” at the wholesale level. Consequently, the obligation to remit the tax would be carried by the corporate head offices of companies in the fossil fuels sector, and a big majority of them are not in Saskatchewan.

So, while this province is where many emissions arise, the responsibility to pay any tax on those emissions is largely located elsewhere – in Ontario, Alberta or even the United States.

But what about consumers? If upstream energy sources become more expensive because of a carbon tax, won’t that get passed down the line for consumers to pay?

The energy prices consumers pay will be determined, as always, by what’s going on in world markets. But some of any carbon tax will get embedded in the final consumer price.

This is equally true under Stephen Harper’s greenhouse gas regulatory scheme. It comes with a cost too.

But a key difference with Stephane Dion’s proposal is that every penny from a levy on carbon will be returned to consumers through income tax cuts.

For example, after being phased-in over four years, the impact of the Dion plan on the average Saskatchewan household is expected to be less than $400 per year. The corresponding income tax cut for that same family with, say, two kids and earnings of $60,000, would be about $1,350 per year.

By contrast, under Mr. Harper’s regulatory plan, there are no tax cuts or offsets. None whatsoever.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

To the best country on Earth (even if somewhat tainted by the pro-Bushie Harper regime), from the Best Place On Earth (BC - what can I say?  It's on our license plates, so it MUST be true)!

Happy Birthday Canada!

(The image is of wine growing country in the Okanagan-Thompson Corridor)