Friday, December 28, 2012

Let's Look Behind the Veil of IdleNoMore

I'm honestly trying like hell to not blog about Twitter on Bad Company anymore. That's what High Noon is for. But the impetus to write this particular post came over approximately two days of battling it out with "Idle No More" fanatics on Twitter.

As it turns out, the three individuals I spent the last couple of days trouncing, all three were essentially lifelong professional students. So at least as it pertained to these three individuals, apparently "idle no more" means that they're really still idle and just pretending not to be.

Moving along.

Idle No More enthusiasts made a pretty big deal when the Chiefs of Ontario Political Confederacy announced that it would not recognize or enforce Bill C-45. "Good for them!" all the fanatics declared. "They're standing up for their rights!"

What rights were they standing up for? Well, when you examine their press release in further detail, you discover that the Chiefs are standing up for their rights to deny rights to their people. They specifically refer to Bill S-2. the Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Rights act, which is part of Bill C-45.

Just what is the Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Rights act? I'm so glad that you asked. It's essentially a bill that will establish the rights of aboriginal women in the case

This was something that was brought up, in all places, at by, of all people, consummate aboriginal 1%er Pam Palmateer. So you just know hilarity is about to abound. I'll give you the Colesnotes version of it: she insists that Bill S-2 is bad. She also repeats the claim that First Nations were never consulted about the bill.

As it turns out, this is patently false.

Apparently Pam Palmateer never bothered to consult a primer written on the bill by the Canadian Bar Association. It was written two years ago when this bill was known as Bill S-4. But as it turns out, the recommendations embodied in the bill were actually made by a committee that included the Assembly of First Nations. To whit:

"The federal government, in collaboration with the Native Women’s Association Canada (NWAC) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), commissioned a series of consultations, resulting in a 2007 report by Wendy Grant-John. That report concluded that the simple application of provincial and territorial MRP law to reserves would be insufficient to deal with current deficiencies, and instead recommended a concurrent jurisdiction model like that proposed by Bill S-4."

The CBA lamely notes a lack of "consensus" among First Nations about specific remedies, but also notes the urgency for action:

"The issue of [Matrimonial Real Property] on reserve has been the subject of Parliamentary scrutiny in recent years, as noted in the Legislative Summary to the Bill. The main concern is a 'jurisdictional gap' in the Constitution Act, 1867. Property and civil rights fall under provincial power by virtue of section 91(13), and under territorial jurisdiction as delegated by the federal government, giving provinces and territories jurisdiction over the division of matrimonial real and personal property. At the same time, real property on reserve is exempted from the application of provincial and territorial law under section 91(24), which provides for federal jurisdiction over 'Indians and Lands Reserved for Indians'.

The Indian Act does not address MRP issues on reserve. While the First Nations Land Management Act provides a mechanism to address MRP issues, it is a statutory regime to which First Nations voluntarily chose to subscribe. Its provisions are not mandatory for First Nations in Canada."

So in other words, First Nations bands can essentially make up their MRP rules as they go along. And apparently Pam Palmateer is entirely comfortable with a situation in which a non-status individual living on reserve in a marriage or common-law relationship promptly becomes a "trespasser" on reserve should that marriage or relationship break up, leaving the non-status individual (not necessarily a non-aboriginal, BTW) with right to nothing.

It leaves non-status women in violently abusive relationships with remarkably few options. Domestic violence is a scourge anywhere it takes place, and it takes place on reserve with greater frequency than it takes place anywhere else in Canada. Yet non-status women accepted onto reserve as part of such a relationship are very much second-class citizens on reserve -- let alone within Canada -- and based on what she has to say it doesn't seem particularly uncharitable to conclude that Pam Palmateer intends for it to remain that way.

This is just one group of people Bill C-2 extends protections to. It also extends legal protections to individuals of status as well. So why, specifically, would the COPC refuse to acknowledge or enforce it? Because if you liberate their second-class citizens, if you take away their right to make up the rules as they go along, you're taking an awful lot of power away from them.

Which is what Idle No More is really about. It's not about standing up for the rights of First Nations -- unless the "right" they're standing up for is the right to actually have no rights. No. It's really about maintaining the power of aboriginal 1%ers over the aboriginal 99%ers. And don't be shocked if it's ever discovered that any number of chiefs have coerced some of the protesters into participating by leveraging whatever social assistance they receive against them. This is something that happens on-reserve quite frequently -- on some reserves with far greater frequency than on others.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Karma in Quebec

Let me start off by agreeing with Chris Selley: schadenfreude is an unworthy emotion.

But if there is anything to be said about the $124 million cut being imposed by Quebec's Parti Quebecois government on the province's colleges and universities, it's this: this is karma for the Quebec student movement that empowered the PQ. In virtually every way imaginable.

And in every way imaginable, they did it to themselves.

Should anyone be surprised that Premier Pauline Marois' first impulse after having achieved power through the Quebec students' movement was to turn around and screw them over? Absolutely not. They set themselves up for it. They did it to themselves. As Thom Yorke would add, and that's why it really hurts.

Simply put, these Quebec students are really the victims of the same intellectual and ideological morass that has afflicted the Parti Quebecois itself: a lack of new ideas. Quebec separatism has been devoid of new ideas for decades now, and it's very telling that as soon as Marois and her merry band of incompetents were elected, the first thing they did was revert to the PQ's old form. Pushing draconian and discriminatory language laws. Trying to pull the Canadian Flag off of the National Assembly. Playing economic chicken with the rest of the country.

Same old, same old.

In the same sense, what the Quebec students movement demanded -- free or nearly-free tuition -- is itself far from a new idea. It's been considered and rejected by nearly every government on the planet with any sense. Most of those governments that made the mistake of trying it found it to be prohibitively expensive and have thusly since abandoned it.

Free post-secondary tuition may be a novel idea, but it's also a failed idea.

That didn't stop Quebec students -- who already enjoy the cheapest university tuition in Canada -- from toppling the Jean Charest government over modest tuition increases that still would have left Quebec with the cheapest tuition in the entire country. And while Marois did temporarily make good on a promise to cancel the proposed tuition increases -- at a speculated cost of $20 million -- she has instead turned around and imposed a funding cut of six times that amount.

Perhaps it's a cynical way to treat the people who basically got her elected. But this is the natural destination of a political movement that has produced no new ideas in at least thirty years.

Of course, they frequently manage to convince themselves that they have produced new ideas. If you peruse the #CdnPoli Twitterverse, you hear them trumpeting them all the time. Yet when you actually pay attention to these "new ideas," you find that they aren't new ideas at all. Rather, they're simply new ways to get attention.

Which is nothing more than what the inane "Casseroles" movement was: simply a desperate bid for attention, in the loudest and most obnoxious way possible. Far from the visionaries of a utopian future, the #ggi movement had reduced themselves to a pre-school-aged Bart Simpson, tearing around banging pots and pans while the adults in the room plaintively begged for some peace and quiet. And Marois was not content to be one of the adults in the room -- she was right there along with the other children, banging pots and pans while seemingly fully aware of the sheer absurdity of it.

That was perhaps the most fatal error the Quebec students movement ever made. For as much as they coveted attention for attention's sake, so do the most cynical of politicians. And virtually everything Pauline Marois has done since becoming the Premier of Quebec blares of cynicism to the nth degree. After having waited to gain power since 2003, the PQ had -- and continues to have -- no idea of what to do with it.

They, like the Quebec students' movement, are utterly bereft of new ideas, and accordingly doomed. They, like the Quebec students' movement, are now finding that getting all the attention they ever wanted was the worst thing that will have ever happened to them. They now form a minority government that is stunningly immobilized by the lack of a coherent program,

So for the Parti Quebecois, just as for the Quebec students movement, there is plenty of karma to go around in Quebec.

They did it to themselves.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pop Quiz!

Pop quiz! Let's see who's been paying attention in Parliament this week.

This week, a vote was held on a private member's bill that would have advantaged a particular group perceived as being friendly to that member's party. Who was the bill going to benefit? Was it:

A.) A Conservative Party bill designed to dole out handouts to the oil and gas industry?


B.) An NDP bill designed to dole out handouts to artists?

If you guessed "B", award yourself a priceless no-prize.

Indeed, this week a vote was held on NDP MP Tyrone Beskin's Bill C-427, designed to institute "income averaging" for Canadian artists. See, in many years artists -- who basically pursue their hobbies as if it were a profession -- don't get to work an awful lot. Yet they -- *gasp!* -- still have to pay taxes when they do. I know. Shocking, right?

The bill was defeated.

Well, it turns out that Beskin has a plan to correct this grave injustice. It would allow them to average their income over a certain period of time -- spanning productive years in which they worked and years in which they weren't producing anything anyone had any interest in, and for whatever reason they didn't work in some other capacity.

Now, Canadian artists describe this as "fair." Fair in the sense that it gives them the freedom to pursue their hobby as if it were a career, and as a consequence actually pay a lower tax rate when their work might actually have some value. Compare this to working-class Canadians, who do not enjoy the same benefits.

Now apparently this has been tried before. And abandoned before. Mostly because Canada's tax codes were reformed to make income volatility less damaging.

But apparently Canadian artists want this back because... well, they want it. And apparently because while they love to harp about how the wealthy should pay more and more taxes, regardless of how much they already pay, apparently they don't like paying taxes either.

I know, right? Go figure.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Ground Continues to Shrink Under the "Robocon"-mongers

This is a news story that has seemingly escaped the notice of many of those obsessed with the so-called "Robocon" robo-call scandal. And considering that it pertains directly to something routinely treated as a smoking gun strongly supporting the notion that someone in the Conservative Party organized a campaign of misleading robo-calls with the party's knowledge.

That would-be "smoking gun" was a claim, in an Elections Canada affidavit, that Michael Sona had talked about organizing misleading robo-calls. It turns out this isn't true.

Elections Canada investigator Al Matthews submitted an affidavit in March 2012 that made this precise claim. But Matthews has since backed away from that allegation, insisting that it was a mistake.

“In an earlier [sworn affidavit] I wrote that Sona called [Matthew] McBain ‘about a campaign of disinformation such as making a misleading poll-moving call,’” Matthews wrote in a subsequent affidavit later in May 2012. “On checking I realize that in both interviews Mr. McBain … did not recall Sona as relating the call to ‘disinformation’ or about a ‘misleading poll moving call,’ only that he wanted to set up an autodial call that would not track back to the Burke campaign.”

It seems worth noting that such an autodial call would be illegal according to CRTC regulations -- something that Sona may not have known at the time, but very likely knows now.

This allegation against Sona has been seized on by "Robocon"-mongers time and time again as a smoking gun suggesting decision-makers in the party knew about it and condoned it. Sona was the communications director for the Marty Burke campaign, so had the allegations against Sona been true it might not have been that unreasonable.

Unfortunately for them, it apparently isn't true.

It's enough to make you wonder just how much more of the allegations aren't true.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quebec Women's Groups Call For Rona Ambrose to Resign... For Acting Responsibly

Minister for Status of Women acts more responsibly than any previous Minister ever

In voting in support of Stephen Woodoworth's motion to establish a Parliamentary committee to discuss abortion, Rona Ambrose has acted more responsibly than any previous Minister responsible for the Status of Women. Ever. Bar none.

A number of women's groups in Quebec -- where nearly one in three women will have an abortion during their lifetime -- couldn't have that. They're demanding that Ambrose resign as Minister for the Status of Women.

Of course she should do no such thing. And hopefully she won't.

"The role of the office of the Minister for the Status of Women is to look after the interests of women," declared Quebec Federation of Women President Alexa Conradi. "By voting for this committee, which has no other goal but to reopen the debate on abortion, she is shirking her responsibility."

Quite the contrary. It isn't Ambrose's responsibility as the Minister  for the Status of Women to slap down discussion of abortion, nor is that even in the best interests of women. In fact, it's distinctly in the best interests of women -- in fact, in the best interests of all Canadians -- that abortion be discussed openly and frequently.

Simply put, whether people like Conradi care to admit it or not, abortion deals with the termination of human life. For any country to have no law governing it -- and to refuse to even discuss it -- is the very definition of madness. But that's only the first reason abortion should be discussed by Parliamentarians.

Perhaps the best reason to establish this committee is for the simple fact that Canadians are woefully under-informed of what the facts regarding abortion in Canada are. Conversely, the best reason for groups like QFW to oppose that debate is because if Canadians did know the facts regarding abortion in Canada were, there is no way the status quo would be allowed to stand.

To start with, Canadians do prefer that abortion remain legal. So that portion of the status quo would remain unchanged. However, 60% of Canadians were found to support some restrictions on when a woman can receive an abortion (57% of men supported this, and 60% of women did as well.)

That's a very severe blow to two common arguments used by the pro-abortion movement. The first, their argument that the current abortion-related status quo is in the best interests of women -- clearly a sizable majority of women do not agree. Secondly that only women have the right to an opinion on abortion -- clearly discounting men does them no good, as even more women than men believe that the law should restrict abortion in some way.

Even though some previous polls have suggested that Canadians are comfortable with Canada's abortion status quo, those polls also found that the majority of Canadians didn't know what that status quo was! Canadians tended to believe that Canada has abortion limits similar to those in the United States.

The pro-abortion lobby, unfortunately, is perfectly comfortable with Canadians not really knowing just what the status quo related to abortion in Canada is. No sooner was Woodworth talking about this abortion than the pro-abortion lobby hit their panic button, fear-mongering as fiercely as they possibly could.

Because they, of all people, know the facts. They know that they cannot afford for Canadians to become aware of the facts. Because if Canadians did, there would be big changes related to abortion -- changes that the pro-abortion zealots won't like.

Friday, September 14, 2012

So, This Happened...

Today, the Conservative government, under fire from lefties for something these same people never criticized when the Liberals were in power, did something the Liberals would never do.

Yet somehow they will continue to find a way to demonize Stephen Harper. It's just what they do.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Going Rogue... Badly

I have no idea what "Deep Rogue Dam" is and probably you don't either. Apparently it has something to do with Kai Nagata and The Tyee. So you can safely presume that the epic fail is absolutely imminent.

Just how imminent? This imminent:

At times like this, it seems in order to just let Batman take it from here:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Ground Continues to Shrink Under the Council of Canadians

It just keeps looking worse and worse for the Council of Canadians.

Frank Graves is a name that is extremely familiar to followers of Canadian politics. In 2010, Graves gave advice to then-Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff that he invoke a "culture war" between the Liberal Party and the governing Conservative Party. It did not end well for the Liberal Party. It was serious enough that Graves lamely tried to explain the entire thing away -- although he never really has.

So it should come as no surprise that Graves -- President of the EKOS polling firm -- is also instrumental in the Council of Canadians' bid to overturn the 2011 election results in seven ridings all won by Conservative candidates.

Apparently, Graves conducted a poll that concluded that, despite the absence of tens of thousands of such complaints, tens of thousands of Canadians -- opposition supporters in all -- were targeted by a highly-organized voter suppression effort.

As it turns out, however, Graves' poll has some very serious flaws in it. Reported, by all people, by Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor.

Ruth Corbin, the CEO of Toronto-based CorbinPartners, has found some very serious problems with Graves' poll. Central to Corbin's analysis is the use of an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system which actually does nothing to confirm who is taking the survey. The survey could have been answered by absolutely anyone, including minors. IVR's tend to suffer from receiving very low response rates, posing serious problems for the scientific sampling of respondents, and making the survey very susceptible to a self-selection bias among respondents.

Some of Corbin's criticisms can be accounted for and explained away pretty easily. But this critique of IVR technology isn't. This becomes clear once you realize that Graves, EKOS, and Council of Canadians, for their own part, actually have no good answer this critique. Apparently the best they could do was enlist University of Toronto Political Science Neil Nevitte tp lamely complain that Corbin's critique was "not generous."

Wow. Is that it?

Look deeper than Nevitte's lame complaint. Maher and McGregor clearly didn't. Nevitte himself overlooks the presence of the self-selection bias in the Graves survey. He notes that “If the calls regarding the change in location of polling stations were random, then there should be no differences in the frequency with which people with different partisan inclinations would report that they were contacted.”

That would make sense. But having used an IVR system, what evidence does Graves have to show that his sampling was truly random? And what evidence does Graves have that months of media bluster about "misleading robocalls" leading up to his survey didn't taint the results? What guarantee does Nevitte have? After carefully considering both Corbin's argument, and Nevitte's counter-argument, the answer becomes immediately apparent: given their use of IVR, the answer is "absolutely none." While a poli sci prof may be able to overlook something like that, an industry professional like Corbin would not.

The more you dig into this Council of Canadians case, the less and less solid the evidence becomes. Remember that they have to show that not only were there misdeeds in the 2011 election, but that it likely affected the result.

The evidence they have is far from rock-solid. No wonder they've been trying to bend the rules while looking for more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just What is "High Noon", and What Does it Mean For Bad Company?

Those following Bad Company through my Twitter account may have noticed me promoting a few links to another blog I've set up, entitled High Noon.

Some of you may be asking: does this mean Bad Company is going to become defunct? Isn't it just a few months old? And defunct so soon, after your last blog ran up more than a thousand posts? I want answers, damn it! Now!

Well, here's the thing. Answers don't give you everlasting satisfaction. Sometimes you need to brace yourself for disappointment. Now think about it. Imagine your favorite TV show. You've been through it all. The ups, the downs, the crazy coincidences, and then: Bang! They tell you what it's all about. Would you be happy? Does it make sense? How come it all ended in a church?

Actually, I ripped most of that last little bit off in its entirety. If you're hip like I am, you'll know from where. Also, it's kind of BS.

Where was I again? Oh, yes. That's right. Answers.

Well, simply put, Bad Company will not be shutting down in any way, shape, or form. High Noon is what I consider to be Canada's answer to Twtitchy. It's a blog about Twitter, as if anyone actually needed it.

It doesn't mean that Twitter shall never again be mentioned on these not-so-humble pages. From time to time, Twitter shall probably merit some kind of mention. But for the most part, expect all the Twitter talk to be relegated to High Noon, while Bad Company shall focus largely on the issues and ideas themselves.

...And don't worry. I will think of something better to use as a background there. All in good time, dear readers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dissecting the Tracey Kent Komplaint

It actually took me quite a while to decide whether or not I was going to write this blogpost or not.

It actually stems from a personal interaction I had with one Tracey Kent, a former Conservative Party riding association executive in Vaughan. That's the riding currently represented by Conservative MP Julian Fantino.

The reason it took me a while to decide whether or not I really wanted to write this post is that Ms Kent is currently involved with a complaint that is before Elections Canada. Normally, I would prefer to simply let that matter work itself out quietly there. However, Ms Kent has been quite obnoxiously-public about the entire affair, so at some point it seems that perhaps this is the kind of thing that should to come to light, for the Canadian public -- or at least the #CdnPoli public -- to judge for themselves.

The matter actually has a lot to do with a recent Elections Canada complaint that turned out to have no comparative merit. The evidence was extremely poor, and really just a waste of Elections Canada time and resources. Ms Kent and her friends didn't like that the complaint was rejected -- they seemed to think it should have been granted some sort of artificial credulity based, ostensibly, on partisan considerations.

The interactions eventually led to this:

Let's look at this a bit closer. Does Tracey Kent's famed affidavit to Elections Canada contain anything like this?
"Having been on the Fantino campaign personally I can attest that the riding association President is a member of the same religious organization as the Americans who travelled up to work on the campaign."
Personally, I consider this to be a strange thing to even bring up. What does the religion of Fantino's riding association President have to do with anything? At all?

The answer is, of course, nothing. But it immediately brings to mind so much vapid left-wing boilerplate -- the kind that, lacking any other issue to broach, brings up the spectre of religious extremism. (I call it the Marci McDonald school of political thought.) It was bizarre enough to convince me to look a little deeper into Ms Kent's beef with the Vaughan riding association, and I have to admit that I was a little unsurprised -- indeed, thoroughly unshocked -- at what I found.

First off, Kent's complaint to Elections Canada deals specifically with allegations that the riding association maintained that the riding association had a secret bank account from which they helped fund campaigns in nine other ridings. They also allege that the riding association had two sets of books to back it up. Fantino spokesman Chris McCluskey categorically denies the allegations of any unlawful conduct. Remarkably, it's actually fully lawful for the Fantino campaign to financially help other campaigns, if it's done in the legally-mandated manner.

One of the complainants, one Richard Lorello -- is the former Conservative candidate supplanted by Fantino. Suddenly, everything starts to make a lot more sense.

Acrimony tends to accompany the replacement of any political candidate. Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal could tell you all about that. But once one starts digging a little deeper, suddenly a few novel facts do begin to pop up.

Beyond the allegations of a second bank account, Kent and Lorello seem to have initially quit the Vaughn riding association over a $10 million grant to a group attempting to bring a hospital to Vaughn. (The riding, incredibly, doesn't have one. They have a population of 300,000 and no hospital.) The people involved in that group fundraised for Fantino, leading Kent and Lorello to conclude that the grant was improper. But this begs an even more crucial question:

Seriously, what the fuck gives?

Regardless of who they fundraised or campaigned for, it would seem that anyone trying to bring a hospital to a community of 300,000 people are doing some very good work. In fact, it seems entirely reasonable to conclude that the fine folk at Vaughan Health Campus of Care likely fundraised for Fantino because they were confident that he could get elected and help deliver the hospital -- something that Fantino's Liberal predecessor obviously couldn't do.

Even the Liberal candidate Fantino defeated applauded the grant to VHCC.

So seriously: what the fuck gives?

Precisely what is going on in the heads of people who think that a $10 million grant to a group trying to bring a hospital to their community is suddenly a bad thing? Just how hostile are these people to the needs and aspirations of their neighbours? And in the case of Lorello specifically, the people who once could have been his constituents?

It makes it pretty clear just as to how Mr Lorello didn't get elected in 2008.

Well, the departure of Tracey Kent and Richard Lorello from the Vaughn riding association were said to be "acrimonious."

So how's this for acrimony?

In the good-time barroom parlance for something entirely uncalled for: "What? Whoa! Whoah!"

It seems that Tracey Kent can quite quickly and easily be moved into the realm of the vile personal attack. And as for Richard Lorello? He has some other problems of his own. (I wonder what Saskboy thinks of that? Maybe someone should be a dear and go ask him.)

There's clearly far more to Tracey Kent's crusade against Julian Fantino than she seems willing to admit. Canada's far-left (hi, Saskboy!) have clutched Ms Kent tight to their bosom, and declared any questioning of her to be outrageous.

In reality, the kinds of questions I'm asking is the kind of questions they should be asking... provided, of course, that they're interested in getting to the bottom of this particular issue at all. Considering how far out of their way they're going to make sure that no one can, it's clear that they just don't.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Barbara Falby's Excellent Adventure? Or Is It a Bogus Journey?

A fun letter to the editor of the Toronto Star has been making the rounds today. It goes a little something like this:
Many opinions have been expressed about the shooting of 24 people in a Toronto community housing project, and the shooting of 82 in a Colorado movie theatre. Admirably, the CBC is explored the role of extremely high temperatures as a trigger for violent behaviour. I know that living in a small, hot, airless room would motivate me to strike out at people.
Other organizations are exploring the “pistolization” of North American society; i.e., gun availability and the media’s role in legitimizing their use. The time has come to recognize Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s part in both of these scenarios.
Extremely hot weather has been allowed to escalate, because Mr. Harper pretends there is no such thing as climate change, having cut funding for many scientific studies, and having denied climate scientists access to media, without PMO approval, despite increasing evidence of species extinction (bats, frogs, bees, etc.), extreme heat (severe drought causing massive crop losses) and freakish weather (disastrous flooding and increase in tornadoes). Mr. Harper can take credit for blocking serious efforts by scientists who wanted the Canadian government to deal with this impending disaster.
The pistolization of Canadian society has increased because Mr. Harper has consistently argued for Canadians’ right to own long guns. Media talk seldom distinguishes between handguns and long guns, although some U.S. press reports emphasize that the Colorado shooter was able to wreak severe damage with both.

Many leaders, including American presidents, have been assassinated with long guns, so Mr. Harper’s naivete on the subject astounds. Most importantly, because many media reports simply repeat Harper’s words without comment, a clear debate about the idiocy of abandoning the long gun registry is lost on many.
Canada’s disaffected youth only hear the message that everyone should have the right to own a gun. By destroying an important piece of Canadian legislation, such as the Long Gun Registry Act, Mr. Harper and his government can now be regarded as accessories after the fact, aiding and abetting the increase in gun violence we are now seeing.
Because the Harper government, in these two areas, has played a large part in the rise of gun violence, it should do the decent thing and step down. Previously, gun violence in Canada has been held in check by government programs and regulations. This leader and his henchmen, however, have managed to abolish well-meaning legislation intended to protect the Canadian public.

How can a government, whose members’ ridings have shown widespread evidence of voter suppression techniques, such as robocalls, and outright fraud, accomplish such an outright abuse of power?
Furthermore, Mr. Harper’s singular lack of imagination in policies regarding the environment, and social policies, etc. show that he does not deserve his position of power. I pray that the justice system will quickly step in to remove illegitimate ministers, senators, and MPs by any logistical means possible, as quickly as possible. Injunctions, forbidding them from entering Parliament could be one such effective measure. 
Did you get all that? If you're anything like me, you probably didn't. I couldn't get through the first two paragraphs before writing this Barbara Falby off as a complete lunatic. So I decided to conduct a two-step experiment to find out if Babs Falby is really this crazy, or if this is some kind of aberration.

It goes a little something like this:

Step one - Google "Barbara Falby"
Step two - chortle chortle chortle

The results came up a little something like this:

"Whitewashing the Tarsands:"
 Unfortunately, there are probably many silent victims of the tar sands – the families afflicted with cancer because they drank downstream water. Not only they, but their families are those suffering – how does one explain to an infant that the mother’s death was justified because the oil that caused it was “ethical oil”? There is a rising mortality rate in several small communities that is magnified because those communities are very small and very isolated. Substitute stones for oil, and the harm is just as great. In fact, the damage done to the boreal forest and to the wildlife population is unconscionable. We are all affected when our oxygen supplies are threatened and our rivers poisoned.
Apparently, Babs didn't get the memo when Alberta Health Services looked into the Fort Chipeywan cancer scare and found that the "elevated" cancer rate at Fort Chipeywan was within the standard deviation... and was accompanied by various lifestyle markers, including elevated rates of hypertension.

The Royal Society of Canada didn't find the claims convincing, either. They've been holding out for more evidence. The punchline is that Babs wrote this a year ago in August 2011... well after AHS and the Royal Society reported.

"VOW Resolution: the Delegitimization of War:"
Whereas: military wars have directly or indirectly caused unconscionable suffering and/or death for millions of men, women, and other species; and
Whereas: military emissions form an unnecessary part of the world’s CO2 count, by adding to its rise, which threatens to eliminate one sixth of its human population, and up to three quarters of its ecosystems,
Be It Resolved that: The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace renews its call for the immediate delegitimization of all violent conflict and international war, by urging the federal government of Canada to support the goals of the UN Charter by embedding this policy in all of its practices, and furthermore, to urge all nation states to adopt these same policies and practices as soon as possible.
Moved by: Barbara Falby                              Seconded by: Elizabeth Raymer
Yes, Babs. War is awful. We get it. We even agree. However, sometimes war is also necessary. Think World War Two. The Korean War. The Star Wars Trilogy.

It sucks, but sometimes wars have to happen. So to delegitimize war is a nice thought, but an impossible idea.

"Development of the Oilsands - The Elephant in the Room:"
I believe that more attention could be focused on demand, rather than supply. I urge all governments immediately, to abandon the policy of providing free flights for elected representatives and staff. All governments would thereby cancel a direct subsidy, and be forced to look at alternative, less emitting forms of travel.
News media could participate by refusing to follow politicians unless they refuse to fly.
 But I imagine that celebrities who fly all over the world to sound the alarm over "human-induced climate change" are all hunky dory. But I think it's worth asking: how did Alana Mitchell get from Dana Point, California to the University of Toronto's Trinity College to receive an honourary doctorate? That was Falby's idea.

Oh, she's also against the construction of new housing units, apparently:
Why are we continuing to allow the huge emissions that are produced by such projects? The greenest building is the one that is already built. With extreme weather events like floods and droughts, affecting millions of people in far off countries, we are at the tipping point of runaway climate change, with the CO2 count now at 391 ppm, and ocean plankton and coral reefs unable to survive counts above 360 ppm. Ocean plankton, by the way, provide us with one half of the world's oxygen. For the first time, the Everglades in Florida have produced more CO2 than oxygen. The Toronto City Council and the OMB should be ashamed of themselves for allowing such monstrously wasteful and destructive projects.
Good gawd. It's not all about plankton and coral reefs. People need places to live, too! Sheesh.

There's probably more. But with responses to Falby's ridiculous Toronto Star letter clogging up the Google canal, it would take a lot of digging to find it all. Maybe that would be an alright project for some enterprising smartass who isn't myself.

Screw $250K... Make it a Million

Those among the left who were previously salivating over the Council of Canadians' court case to have the election 2011 results of seven ridings -- "coincidentally" all of them won by Conservative candidates -- must ever so slowly be coming to the realization that the meal they've been anticipating probably isn't coming.

Perhaps some of them are still fooling themselves. For one thing, they're pretending to be shocked that lawyers representing the Conservative Party are asking for a $250,000 deposit on any costs they may incur while defending against this case. CoC chair Maude Barlow, unshockingly, thinks it's awful. Just awful.

"While these relentless obstructions by the Conservative Party continue to drive up legal costs, they will not dampen our resolve to defend democracy and restore voters' rights," Barlow insisted.

But in reality, the $250,000 isn't enough. Moving forward, the court should reject the Tories' bid to impose a $250,000 deposit on the Council of Canadians... in favour of a million dollar deposit. I think of it as the court's very subtle way of saying "fuck off" to a case that shouldn't be heard at this juncture in the first place.

Barlow can pretend this case is about "restoring voters' rights" as much as she wants. But the fact is that the Council of Canadians has made this case a complete and utter farce from the very beginning.

To start with, Canadians should have expected CoC to have collected enough evidence to pursue this case before filing the case. However, CoC recently petitioned Elections Canada to provide them with the evidence Elections Canada is using in their own investigation of the so-called "robocalls" scandal, including those that allegedly took place within these seven ridings. Bad news for Council of Canadians. It turns out that this effort to find additional evidence -- not to submit evidence they already have, but to dig up more evidence -- comes after the June deadline to submit evidence.

There's simply no getting around it: this move is an admission by the Council of Canadians that they do not have, and have never had, sufficient evidence to win this case and overturn these election results.

And it just got worse.

The call centre at the centre of CoC's case -- the call centre wherein misdirecting calls were allegedly made -- has submitted an affidavit to the court stating that they have records that show some of the principle evidence around which the CoC case is based -- more specifically, an affidavit from a cell centre worker -- may not be accurate.

No wonder the Council of Canadians is out digging for more evidence.

So what does all of this have to do with requiring a $1 million deposit from the Council of Canadians? That's very simple.

Elections Canada is still investigating the allegations in these seven ridings. The Council of Canadians case is really nothing more than an end-run around that investigation -- hoping to get a court to rule that the evidence in this matter is more convincing than Elections Canada may find it to be.

If any group, of any political affiliation, wants to attempt end-runs around Elections Canada, it should be very expensive to do. In fact, prohibitively expensive. If Elections Canada concludes its investigation, and CoC is unconvinced, that's one thing. But what the Council of Canadians is at risk of doing is usurping Elections Canada's role as Canada's elections watchdog.

This cannot be allowed to do so. And in order to deter groups like Council of Canadians from trying such things in the future, the court should ask them to pony up a million bucks, or fuck right off.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Message to Bashir Mohammed: You Are What I Feared Canada Was Becoming...

...but fortunately, we're setting things right again

On Saturday, July 14, 17-year-old Bashir Mohammed interrupted a speech given by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in Edmonton, doing his damnedest to make a grand ol' spectacle of himself.

He was removed from the event -- and really, what else could he have possibly expected when he started bellowing at Kenney while the Minister was giving a speech that people had paid to hear? Here, then, is my response to Bashir Mohammed.

Sanctimonious. Self-reighteous. A little pig-headed. That's what the left in Canada is quickly becoming, and once upon a time I was worried that the whole country was becoming that way. We're setting that right, so don't you worry too much about that.

Once upon a time, Canadians had been so badly bushwhacked by guilt-mongering, envy-enshrining left-wing politics that when a governing party caught red-handed stealing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to keep themselves in power so much as peeped about their opponents having a "scary right-wing agenda," they overlooked the opposition in favour of the safety of living under the crooked. Like I said, that's a thing of the past. In fact, it was what eventually -- finally -- led us to where we are today. And it's a time and place that isn't nearly as disastrous as people like you are falling all over yourselves to make it out to be.

Hell, you were willing to interrupt a Minister of the Crown, at an event at which hundreds of people had paid $40 apiece to hear him speak. Let me make that perfectly clear to you: they didn't pay $40 a head to hear you preen on about your own personal political ambitions, they heard to hear the Minister. Apparently, that wasn't good enough for you. I guess you wouldn't be such a good little leftist if you didn't thrill at the idea of stealing someone else's spotlight.

But really, what bothers me the most is the sheer lack of self-knowledge in the statement you planned to deliver to Jason Kenney -- and which you subsequently published at (also known as Canada's single largest left-wing suckhole). It's more than enough to underscore that you're the kind of person who really just doesn't get it. Things like this:

"Your cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program are ridiculous. You are separating Canadians by saying that we should help 'our own' before we help 'them', referring to the people that you seem to generalize as 'smuggled, or bogus asylum claimants,'" you intended to say. "When you say that, I am insulted. My dad was an engineer in Somalia and his education was removed when he entered Canada. He worked up north, and at Home Depot while going to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to re-earn the title that he lost."

You say you're insulted by talk about "bogus asylum claimants." You talk about your father's experiences after arriving in Canada (and really, who would have imagined that an engineering degree from freaking Somalia wouldn't be up to the Canadian standard?). Quite frankly, we can see by the fact that you are still here in the country that your father is quite ostensibly not the kind of person whom Kenney was speaking about. Clearly your father spent the time necessary to demonstrate quite thoroughly that he is not a bogus refugee claimant. So quite frankly, your "insult" was entirely self-imposed.

From how you yourself describe him, your father -- peace be upon his soul -- was precisely the kind of immigrant that Canada needs: the kind who goes through the proper process of coming to Canada, who waits his turn. I do personally see the virtue in allowing those refugees who are in truly dire and desperate straights to come to Canada through irregular means, but there must be some limit to whom Canadians roll out the red carpet for.

If you were truly up-to-speed on this issue, you would know full well that immigrants approved to stay in Canada will still be covered under Canada's Interim Federal Health Program. The Harper government rewrote their own policy statements to make sure that the program wasn't completely shut down.

Naturally, that wasn't enough for those who think that Canada should fit the bill for the medical and dental care -- heck, perhaps even gender-reassignment surgeries -- for every one who manages to somehow skip across Canada's borders and set foot on Canadian soil.

In fact, the policy of the Harper government is one that a great many Canadians will agree with: that immigrants to Canada should be genuine, prepared to contribute to Canada, and at the very least be prepared to stay here.

If you have a problem with that, it's your problem, and you can keep it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Call It the DePape Factor

All across Canada, a virulent new strain of leftism is emerging: the kind of left-winger who just wants to be famous.

They don't necessarily need to have a particularly novel or insightful idea in order to do it. All they need to do is find a way to put themsleves in the spotlight. If they can successfully do it, left-wing organizations across the country will dig deep into someone else's pockets -- labour unions, university student unions, or the government -- to fly them in to speak.

It doesn't matter if all they do is spout the same boring, mindless left-wing boilerplate as every other left-winger in the country. It's a great way to manage to do a lot of travelling for free.

Take, for example, the case of Brigette DePape. DePape is also known as the "Stop Harper" girl, who lost her job as a Senate page because she abused her job to make a political statement. It turned out to be one of the most empty and vapid political statements to find public traction in decades. DePape was hailed as a hero by Canada's far-left when she disrespected Canada's democratic institutions and held up a "Stop Harper" sign during the Speech From the Throne.

The banality of her message did absolutely nothing to dissuade the left from holding DePape up as some kind of luminary. Various organizations began to roll out the red carpet for DePape, flying her around the country. Despite having never had an original thought in her head, DePape has made out quite well from her little "stop Harper" stunt.

Now Edmonton resident Bashir Mohamed is taking his turn. At a Conservative Party fundraising BBQ in Edmonton, Mohamed paid $40 to get into the event, just so he could pop up in the middle of Jason Kenney's speech to shout him down.

He claims he was simply trying to ask Kenney a question. But none of those present at the event seem to recall him asking a question, and instead recall that Mohamed just started "screaming" at Kenney.

It's basically a repeat of some medical students who interrupted Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver at one of his press conferences. The subject, as for Mohamed, was some recent cuts to healthcare programs for refugees. The Conservative government has moved to cut off benefits for unsuccessful applicants, and reserve those benefits for successful applicants. It makes perfect sense.

Unless you're a doctor who's about to see some of his billing hours undercut, or a university student who just wants to be famous. Then it's an absolute outrage.

Canadians can look forward to seeing more of Mohamed over the next few days. If he's anything like DePape, he'll be seen on TV, with a self-satisfied smile on his face, pleased at just how famous he's managed to make himself, and looking forward to all the perks that comes with that kind of fame.

It's hard to believe that Brigette DePape's particular streak of narcissism is entirely unique to her. What kind person might be this particular brand of narcissistic? How about someone who shows up to a Jason Kenney event determined to make it all about themselves?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Coming Soon to a Left-wing Twitter Feed Near You... Elections Canada Are a Bunch of Poopie Heads

Really, they're not

Score on for Elections Canada.

Yes, for Elections Canada, not for the mob of would-be citizen prosecutors who want to rush Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party into jail on the basis of accusations alone.

Yesterday, Elections Canada released its ruling in the case of a complaint regarding an Ohio-based company called Front Porch Technologies. As it turns out, Front Porch Technologies had some role in the 2011 election for Conservative MP Rick Dykstra.

According to Democracy Watch, and numerous other left-wing complainers, this violates section 331 of the Canada Elections Act. This prohibits non-residents inducing Canadian voters to vote for or against any particular candidate.

"The information described in [the] complaint, found on internet or news stories, indicates that the activity complained of was of very limited duration, and suggests that the purpose of the individuals' presence in Canada may have been partly or primarily to promote their business interests," Elections Canada responded. "No complaint to this office provided a basis to believe that any elector was actually induced or affected in their voting behaviour due to the activity complained of."

Predictably, Democracy Watch didn't like the ruling. They declared it to be "legally incorrect."

But when examining the complaint presented by Democracy Watch more thoroughly, it actually turns out that the Elections Canada ruling is indisputably correct. Simply put, the complaint presents insufficient evidence to determine that any wrongdoing took place, or that the wrongdoing complained of was even what they insisted it was.

The evidence submitted to Elections Canada basically consisted of the following: tweets by the Front Porch Technologies Twitter account, and a photo of Front Porch Technologies President Matt Parker talking on the phone at Julian Fantino's campaign office.

They insist that all of this is concrete evidence that Front Porch Technologies, and the campaigns that employed them, violated section 331 of the Elections Act. But hold on.

The photo of Matt Parker was simply of him talking on the phone. No one actually knows who he was talking to. Certainly, he could have been talking to a voter. Maybe. But he could just as easily been talking to a volunteer, someone else involved in the campaign, or even someone at Front Porch Technologies HQ in Ohio. Certainly, the Front Porch Technologies Twitter account tweeted that they were "taking Toronto by storm," and made references to door knocking, but none referring to Matt Parker, or any other non-Canadian resident actually doing any such door-knocking themselves.

Both of these things can be quite easily explained away by the suggestion -- or, rather, the likelihood -- that Front Porch Technologies was providing consulting services. It's not illegal for election campaigns in Canada to contract such services from American firms. For their own part, the Liberal Party knows this well: they've had decades of involvement with US consulting firms -- more notably, the ones that tend to provide services to the Democratic Party.

Certainly, the evidence presented by Democracy Watch is enough to suggest that there's a possibility that Parker was improperly involved in election campaigns during the 2011 election. But it doesn't demonstrate indisputably that Parker was. No matter how badly Democracy Watch may want it to, it just doesn't.

There are a lot of left-wing demagogues running about the blogosphere and the Twitterverse claiming that this ruling is evidence that Elections Canada cannot be trusted to investigate complaints involving the Conservative Party. All it shows is that Elections Canada did not choose to inflate the evidence presented in this complaint so as to treat it as if it were something that it wasn't.

It says so much about a lof the allegations, and the way they're being treated by the Canadian left. First off, it shows us that the left is more than willing to inflate very sparse evidence into something far more conclusive than it really is. Secondly, it shows us that the left has very rarely risen among the level of mere presumption of guilt. Thirdly, and more importantly, it shows us that the left is already preparing itself to reject any conclusions by Elections Canada that don't simply find the Conservative Party guilty of anything the left may care to accuse it of.

Once upon a time, criticizing Elections Canada was unthinkable. Even when Elections Canada was going after Conservatives for something the Liberals were doing also -- the so-called in-and-out "scandal" -- or tipping the media so they could be present at raids of the Conservative Party offices, Elections Canada was proclaimed, by the left, to be above reproach.

Now, suddenly that they aren't getting everything their way, the left is declaring Elections Canada to be moribund and corrupt. Which just goes to show precisely how shallow their regard for Canada's election watchdog is, and just what they imagine the roll of Elections Canada to be:

They don't imaigne Elections Canada's role to be conducting elections for the good of all Canadian people; they imagine Elections Canada to be their own private cudgel, beating down Conservatives whenever the opportunity may arise.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spam... For #CdnPoli, It's What's For Dinner

Last night, the Canadian political Twitterverse exploded with indication -- from conservatives, at least -- over what appeared to be a censorship campaign against a Twitter account the Ethical Oil Institute has been using to promote its boycott of Lush Cosmetics.

Personally, I've never been that big a believer in boycotting critics of the oilsands. Boycotting them may hurt their business for a short period of time, but frankly I see it as just vengeful. A boycott may change someone's behaviour, but it doesn't change their mind. For supporters of the oilsands, the latter should be much more important than the former.

Now, with that aside, onto the censorship.

After a long Twitter conversation with Alheli Picazo, the alleged perpetrator of the censorship, I've personally come to the opinion that the entire affair is actually a mutual misunderstanding between Picazo and EOI. And I think it would be a good time to address what are some very important concepts.

Obviously, Twitter is still an emerging medium. Accordingly, it can often be difficult to classify the kind of interactions that take place over it. Take, for example, the belief popular amongst left-wing Tweeters that anyone who disagrees with them is a troll. It's almost certain that some of them are disingenuous in this -- it's simply a cheap shortcut to discount opinions of people who disagree with them. Others may believe it more genuinely, even if it's comically false.

But that's just one example. What's more important to the issue is how we understand what is or is not spam.

A quick case in point also involves Picazo, and took place a few weeks ago. Picazo recommended that her followers flag a pro-motion 312 Twitter account (Motion 312 is Conservative MP Stephen Woodsworth's motion to debate abortion). At that particular point, after quickly reviewing that account's feed, I actually agreed with her. The account was Tweeting identical messages over and over. Clearly an automated account in my view. So I agreed with her. Reporting that particular account for spam was just the right thing to do. Anyone who wants to support Motion 312 should come down here and debate like the rest of us.

As of the writing of this blogpost, the @BloodLushAlerts Twitter account has been suspended, so it's hard to see whether or not it was similarly sending identical Tweets. What does remain to be seen is that the user of the account responded to Picazo's suggestion that her followers report it for spam. She then reiterated her suggestion that it be reported for spam.

On its face, it may look bad. But I think there may be a better explanation for this than Picazo being censorious.

For one thing, Picazo seems to be operating with a different definition of spam than the rest of us. She defines "hardcore trolling" as spam. In her view, if someone is uninterested in any kind of actual dialogue -- and no hardcore troll really is -- then they're a spammer.

Does she have an argument? Absolutely she does. But did @BloodLushAlerts try to engage Picazo in dialogue? As a matter of fact, yes. Yes, they did. But this also led to a huge misunderstanding. In my view, I see it like this: Alheli Picazo misunderstood the intentions of the @BloodLushAlerts Twitter account, and recommended that her followers report it for spam. The operator of the account then misunderstood Picazo, and from there Picazo merely interrupted.

So what does my argument have in its favour? For one thing, history: in my view, Picazo was entirely right about the Motion 312 account -- as would anyone who received an unwanted "Truth About Tim" or "Queen's Park Update" Tweet, and reported the associated account for spam. For another thing, it has human nature on its side: both Picazo and the @BloodLushAlerts operator are human, and humans sometimes overreact.

Misusing Twitter's spam reporting procedures to censor other Tweeters has been a hot topic lately. Sheila Gunn Reid has been a victim of it. Others have as well. Mostly they tend to be conservatives, but Kikki Planet is fairly left-leaning, and she was victimized as well during the recent Alberta election.

I surmise that in this heated environment a lot of people -- including, at first, myself -- simply assumed that Picazo was maliciously censoring people. After a conversation with Picazo, I no longer believe that to be true.

As I understand it, Picazo still blogs at I'd say that the Twitterverse would benefit from hearing Picazo make her case for her definition of spam at greater lengths. I'd encourage her to make use of her soapbox there to tell her side of this story more publicly, and make her case for her definition of spam.

So far she seems to disagree with me about both things -- I consider trolling to be a problem separate from spamming, and that it should be handled in different ways -- but I genuinely think that she has a lot to add to this conversation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Who Killed Scientific Evidence?

Talk about the death of evidence.

A few hundred scientists, organized by the Council of Canadians, gathered yesterday in Ottawa to accuse Prime Minister Stephen Harper of having an anti-environment, anti-science agenda.

The message is clear: they seem to think that, at a time of fiscal austerity, they should be immune. Artists almost certainly feel the same way. But I digress.

It's worth noting that, in the research of many of the scientists present at this partisan protest, research was already grievously ailing, if not already dead. Did Prime Minister Harper kill evidence? Perhaps, at best, his government is simply shovelling dirt on the grave.

Coming via Mike Soron of Steady City, take the case of Arne Mooers. Mooers was at the protest yesterday. He had some interesting comments about 'state propaganda.'

"Evidence is the way that adults navigate reality," he insisted. "To deny evidence is to live in a fairy tale world. When countries engage in fantasy it's called state propaganda."

As Soron points out, one of Mooers' past pieces of work was a study projecting a global planetary collapse, one that will effectively end human civilization as we know it. Or altogether. Of course, when you take a look at what Mooers used for his "evidence," his study becomes altogether unconvincing. Essentially, the whole thing is a scientific whitewash. The best evidence Mooers uses in his study is paleontological. Other than that, the study relies on scientific theory and toy ecosystem modelling. So in reality, the study never advances beyond theory.

"The last tipping point in Earth's history occurred about 12,000 years ago when the planet went from being in the age of glaciers, which previously lasted 100,000 years, to being in its current intergalacial state," Mooers explained. "Once that tipping point was reached, the most extreme biological changes leading to our current state occurred within only 1,000 years. That's like going from a baby to an adult state in less than a year. Importantly, the planet is changing even faster now."

Or not.

Recent ice core studies have cast some serious doubt on the conclusions drawn by some climate alarmists -- presuming, of course, that you take actual science seriously enough to allow there to be any doubts.

"The odds are very high that the next global state change will be extremely disruptive to our civilizations," he continued. "Remember, we went from being hunter-gatherers to being moon-walkers during one of the most stable and benign periods in all of Earth's history."

Of course, that would be a massive historical mistake -- one repeated over and over again in the apocalyptic ravings of scientists aligned with the climate change alarmists. This forgets the global state-changes that have happened during humanity's advance form hunter-gatherer societies to moon-walking. The one most popularly omitted is the medieval warming period. The omission, by the way, is quite deliberate.

If judged by such things as the state of glaciers, the medieval warming period was much closer to the global collapse that Mooers refers to in his study. Yet the planet eventually returned to its previous state.

Why is this important? I'm glad you asked.

“Once a threshold-induced planetary state shift occurs, there’s no going back," Mooers insisted. "So, if a system switches to a new state because you’ve added lots of energy, even if you take out the new energy, it won’t revert back to the old system. The planet doesn’t have any memory of the old state.”

The paper is also strongly rooted in a Malthusian ideology. Malthusians have been forecasting doom and gloom for nearly 200 years, and time and time again it's failed to come to pass.Think of the Malthusians as being the Jehovas Witnesses of science.

The most remarkable thing about the study is that, as there has never been a human-induced planetary collapse, Mooers' study cannot have determined such a threshold based on evidence. They claim that humanity has already reached 43% of the threshhold that would induce such a global collapse. If humanity exceeds 50%, it's all over. But without any evidence on which to base it -- and there is none -- that threshold is entirely arbitrary.

Simply put, it's impossible for a study like Mooers' to be anything but grey science. Which would make it a very bad idea for any government to base policy on it.

So who really killed evidence? Was it Prime Minister Stephen Harper with what are actually some very small cuts to scientific funding (which are the first of his time as Prime Minister)? Or was it Arne Mooers?

You be the judge.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thomas Mulcair vs Evidence -- a Very One-sided & Nasty Fight

Mulcair decries the damaged Canadian reputation that wasn't

Thomas Mulcair wants you to think Canada has a bad reputation. And he wants you to think Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to blame.

This is actually nothing new. It's a familiar tactic adopted by the opposition throughout the entirety of the Harper government era. And never once have any of its proponents been able to produce even a shred of evidence to support the claim. Not one.

"The Canada that [the Conservatives] are projecting onto the world stage is no longer recognizable to our many partners around the world who have always admired and worked with Canada, and it’s no longer recognizable to us," Mulcair declared. He attributes these comments to a European Union diplomat whom he recently met with.

This, of course, is a conversation that took place in private. No European Union diplomat has come out and gone on the record saying that Prime Minister Harper has hurt Canada's reputation. And apparently we're supposed to take Mulcair at his word. Because he's a politician, and no politician would ever lie or embellish anything.

Right? Right.

But, just as with Mulcair's "Dutch Disease" thesis, Mulcair is sorely at odds with the evidence on this one. Just what should Canadians believe? Mulcair's claims that Canada's reputation is suffering? Or scientific polling that demonstrates Canada's reputation is quite strong, and getting stronger?

The last time that such a poll was conducted, 57% of respondents around the world gave Canada a favourable rating. Even more tellingly for Mulcair's claims about Canada's reputation, only 12% gave Canada an unfavourable rating.

Once again, the evidence is stacking up against Mulcair. Which is far from shocking. But even if a few disgruntled EU diplomats were griping to Mulcair in private, it likely had far more to do with getting him on-side with the sovereign debt bailouts that the EU wants copious amounts of Canadian dollars for. Which is a colossally bad idea, as the risk attached to European sovereign debt skyrockets.

"We had these weird statements from Conservatives saying that [the crisis] was because of the sumptuous lifestyle in Europe. They turned it into a local, parochial, partisan, political fight, whereas this is literally something where we're all attached," Mulcair complained.

First off, there's nothing "weird" about those comments. Many of the European countries that are on the verge of collapse accumulated that debt somehow. And whether Mulcair wants to admit to it or not, everyone already knows how.

But it's true that Canada is attached. But some of us are more attached than others. Mulcair, for example, has to be keenly aware that the collapse of Europe is a stinging historical rebuke for his party's ideology. Europe has long been the NDP's model for Canada, and as goes that model, so will go the NDP. They aren't very good at going back to the drawing board when their ideas fail -- ergo the need to obfuscate the failures of their ideas.

Bailouts are something that every government should avoid. But sovereign debt bailouts are the absolute worst bailouts, and have always brought nothing but economic disaster. It happened in the 1930s with Germany, happened in the 1980s with various Latin American countries, and it's happening again now. There have been more than 250 defaults on sovereign debt since 1800. Many of them -- in particular Germany's -- were made far, far worse by the bailouts they had received in order to avoid such a default.

So certainly, yes. Canada is attached to the European economic crisis. Due to the nature of the global economy, pretty much everyone is. But Mulcair needs to ask himself a very serious question: if Europe is sucked down a whirlpool of debt, should Canada follow just to spare the NDP a little wounded pride?

Unfortunately, it's easy to forecast Mulcair's answer. He's proven exceedingly poor at coping with the bruises to his pride since he became Leader of the Opposition. Whether it was dealing with all the informed observers who demonstrated that his "Dutch Disease" theories were complete and utter bunkum, whether it's his claims about Canada's international reputation -- again, flying in the face of the available evidence -- or whether its the future of his party's model for Canada, he's shown he's just not very good at dealing with these things.

Thomas Mulcair and evidence don't get along very well. It's been a nasty and one-sided fight, with the evidence doing all the hitting. It's enough to make the prospect of Prime Minister Thomas Mulcair a deeply disturbing one.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Phantom Menace: The OECD "Dutch Disease" Report That Never Actually Was

If you were to believe Canada's left, there's a malaise ravaging Canada's economy. And conveniently for them, they can blame it all on Alberta, where practically no one votes for them.

They call it Dutch Disease. And they're grasping at any straw they can find in order to make Canadians think that Canada has it. Including a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which, they say, identifies symptoms of Dutch Disease in Canada.

But the report isn't the blanket confirmation of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's wacky economic thesis that they think it is. In fact, there's far more in the report that disputes Mulcair, and reveals his economic ideas to be shortsighted and dangerous than there is anything that actually backs him up.

Mulcair claimed that Canada suffers from so-called Dutch Disease on account of what he considered an over-valued Canadian dollar, which he attributed to resource revenues, singling out the oilsands in particular. The Dutch Disease argument holds that resource exports, which help drive up the value of the dollar, "hollow out" a country's manufacturing sector. A country's exports become more expensive by comparison to their international competitors, driving down sales, and labour demand from the booming resource industries leave the manufacturing sector unable to compete for labour.

And so the symptoms of the so-called "Dutch Disease" are pretty clear: struggling manufacturing,  suffering sales, and lost jobs.

But to identify the symptom is hardly to diagnose the disease. And as a diagnostic tool, the OECD report actually tells a very different story. The report actually found what the IIRP did -- that the problem with manufacturing in Canada is below-nominal innovation. "While Canada has made great strides in macroeconomic and structural policy settings, and its academic research is world class, the pay-off in terms of business innovation and productivity growth has not been large. Business R&D is particularly low, despite significant policy support, suggesting substantial scope for improvement."

So the government of Canada has been doing its part. Particular sectors of the economy -- particularly the high-labour, low-wage subsectors of Canadian manufacturing that have been struggling -- have not been doing their part. Which, you may recall, was precisely what the IIRP concluded.

The report also found that opening sheltered sectors of the economy -- such as network communications -- up to greater competition would be beneficial. (Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has been doing just this, and it's been driving the opposition batty.)

On the whole, the OECD report concluded that the problem with the Canadian economy is not the competitive pressures imposed by a higher exchange rate, but rather failures by specific sectors of the Canadian economy to respond to them. Which confronts Thomas Mulcair, the NDP, and his standard bearers with some very stark realities, and some equally stark challenges.

For example, Mulcair cites Canada's strong dollar as a problem, implying that something needs to be done about it. Yet the OECD gave Canada a sold thumbs-up on its monetary policy, although noting that the Bank of Canada should stand prepared to respond to inflationary pressures. So policy measures to erode the Canadian dollar don't seem to be in order.

So even if the OECD agreed with Mulcair that some symptoms of Dutch Disease are present, that's just one thing. And the presence of symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose the Dutch Disease. They also need to be able to identify the cause.

This is where some control comparisons come in handy. If the oilsands, and the energy industry in general, were really spurring Dutch Disease in Canada, then the struggles of Canada's manufacturing sector should be unique. But unfortunately for Mulcair and his fans, those struggles are not unique. Not even within OECD countries.

In fact, comparing declines across OECD countries is rather telling. While Statistics Canada identified a general downturn in Canadian manufacturing since 2004 -- something that Mulcair's followers point to as symptoms of Dutch Disease -- that downturn wasn't limited to Canada. The downturn in Canada's manufacturing industry was approximately 14%. But during the same period of time, Great Britain experienced a manufacturing downturn of 29%. Japan experienced a downturn of 24%. It was 20% in Belgium and Sweden. And an identical 14% in France.

This is all particularly telling, because it begs an important question: can the UK, Japan, Belgium, Sweden and France -- or most of the OECD. for that matter -- blame the decline of their manufacturing sectors on the oilsands? Do they even have an oilsands resource export equivalent that they can blame the decline on? Or is that general decline symptomatic of something else?

This is almost certainly why the OECD declined to cite Dutch Disease in their economic survey of Canada, and why a reporter for the Canadian Press had to do it for them: because the malaise of manufacturing is not uniquely Canadian, not attributable to Dutch Disease, and instead attributable to standard global economic forces.

Simply put, Canadian firms that placed their bet on high-labour, low-wage manufacturing in Canada made a poor bet. They're losing their sales to firms located in companies that have a competitive advantage in unskilled labour. In essence, they're paying the price for their own bad business decisions.

Thomas Mulcair and his followers point to this as evidence that Canada's economy is becoming "unbalanced," and that something needs to be done about it -- even though they're all lacking in ideas as to what exactly they want to do about it. They all seem to lack ideas about just what an "unbalanced economy" even means, and how to achieve a "balanced economy," and for good reason:

That isn't even remotely what the problem is. The OECD knows that, even if Mulcair and his followers so desperately want to pretend otherwise.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

For No Particularly Compelling Reason, the Far-Left Wants Fraser Institute Blood

DeSmogBlog wants the Fraser Institute audited because they hate its politics -- and its success

Ever since the federal government -- in particular the Canadian Revenue Agency -- started to investigate the funding activities of far-left organiations like Tides Canada and the organizations they fund, Canada's far-left has been losing its collective mind.

The jig, as it turns out, is up. They thought they had found the perfect way to cheat the system, and use the tax benefits accorded to charitable organizations to fund their political activities. Now, becuase people have finally started paying attention to the gross abuses of the Income Tax Act,

The money laundering practices of Tides Canada, as well as the openly partisan activities of the David Suzuki Foundation, have drawn attention and fire because they are abuses of the law.

But when plumbing through the complaints writers like Jeff Gailus and David Climenhaga (who Gailus cites in his hitpiece), it becomes clear that it really comes down to one thing and one thing alone: that they don't like the Fraser Institute's political views, and that is the sole basis of their complaint. As mentioned here before, they also deeply resent it for its success.

In the great tradition of left wing nut jobs everywhere, Gailus turns to other left-wing work in order to justify his definition of the Fraser Institute as an "inerently political oragnization." In particular, he quotes Simon Fraser University professor Simon Gutstein accordingly: "The Fraser Institute is a small cog in a global wheel of reaction designed to roll back the democratic gains of the 20th century."

Aside from being pure nonsense, this definition is also politically-loaded. Which should come as no surprise whatsoever -- Gailus' entire article is deliberately designed to be politically loaded, Which would be OK, if he weren't targetting the Fraser Institute for an entirely baseless and vexatious audit.

For one thing, when writing his column, Gailus clearly never bothered to research what activities are permitted under the Income Tax Act, and which are not. The resulting revelations are very illuminating, and very clearly do not support his argument.

For example, Gailus points to comments by former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein that his government followed the policy recommendations of the Fraser Institute. And yet, according to the Canadian Revenue Agency, this doesn't impact on the Fraser Institute's charitable status: "When a political party or candidate for public office supports a policy that is also supported by a charity, the charity is not prevented from promoting this policy." That doesn't change once a particular party or candidate -- in this case, Klein -- is in office, provided they haven't endorsed or supported that particular candidate.

Charitable organziations are allowed to take positions on issues of public interest, so long as:
  1. it does not explicitly connect its views to any political party or candidate for public office;
  2. the issue is connected to its purposes;
  3. its views are based on a well-reasoned position;
  4. public awareness campaigns do not become the charity's primary activity.
The full extent of Gailus' take on this particular matter is that he disagrees with the conclusions that the Fraser Institute reaches on various subjects -- including right-to-work legislation, election spending laws, supply-management and the administration of Canadian environmental law -- and ergo he denies that they could be "well-reasoned."

It's just another piece in his demagogic Jenga game. Gailus argues that the Fraser Institute should be audited for the sole reason of -- get this -- he doesn't like the Fraser Institute. That's pretty much it.

It's a shocking analysis that basically amounts to "rules be damned, they should be auited because I disagree with them." And if this -- someone disagreeing with a particular think tank --became the basis for denying charitable status to think tanks, it wouldn't stop at the Fraser Institute, no matter how much Gailus may fantasize that it would.

By the standard he would like to apply to the Fraser Institute, Gailus' test of chairtability would also inevitably sink the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Pembina Institute, the Parkland Institute, and especially the Broadbent Institute. None of Canada's left-wing think tanks would stand a chance. The Climenhaga/Gailus test would shut each and every one of them down. It would, but fortunately this is not the test the CRA will use in relation to Tides Canada, in relation to the David Suzuki foundation, or in relation, and would not use in relation to the Fraser Institute or Ethical Oil (the latter of which the CRA would be largely disinterested in because it's not a registered charity) if it did decide to audit them.

Gailus' work amounts to nothing more than the kind of fact-free analysis that has driven a certain panic among the far-left about the Fraser Institute. Before this, it was the yellow journalism of Gerald Caplan and the Vancouver Observer, pointing out that the Fraser Institute received $500,000 in funding from the Koch foundation, but never actually bothered to contact the Fraser Institute to find out what the money was used for.

For the record, the Koch foundation grant was in support of the Fraser Institute's annual economic freedom index. Extremely innocuous stuff, except to those on the left who despise economic freedom because it impedes their ideological goals.

With the left becoming more and more frantic as more and more of the liberties they've taken with the rules come to light, no one should expect the witch hunt against the Fraser Institute to fade quietly -- or any time soon. The best anyone can do is to continue to counter those trying to lead the charge against the Fraser Intitute, and continue challenging them to explain just what they think is wrong.

More often than not, they can't name a single thing. When some, like Jeff Gailus, attempt to do so, they inevitably come up empty. Which is forever a further reminder of what this is about:

The Fraser Institute hasn't broken any rules. They just hate it for its opinions, and resent it for its success.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Junk Economics Behind the "Dutch Disease" Theory

Far-left response to Dutch Disease theorem short on facts, long on... pretty much nothing

With the far-left doubling down on NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's "Dutch Disease" thesis -- arguing that an artificially high Canadian dollar, allegedly inflated by Canadian energy exports, has hollowed out the manufacturing sector -- it should be far from surprising that the so-called "Progressive Economics Forum" is following the same lead.

Responding to a Glibe and Mail editorial which agrees with Mulcair that the oilsands industry should do more to protect the environment -- they should always be striving to do better -- which attributes their struggle to competition from Chinese manufacturers as much as to a comparatively high Canadian dollar,.Andrew Jackson overlooks a very basic detail.

The PEF's response, written by Jackson, is only four paragraphs long, so it can't help but be short on the facts. While it does offer one fact for consideration, that the Chinese Yuan, like the Canadian dollar, is managed against the US dollar, he actually declines to mention just what the Chinese Yuan-to-US dollar exchange rate actually is.

In fact, as of the time of this writing it happens to be approximately 6.4 Chinese Yuan to one Canadian dollar. This means that it takes approximately 6.4 Chinese Yuan to purchase one American dollar, making US manufactured products very unattractive to Chinese buyers.

Economic analysts cited by the Pembina Institute claim that the "natural value" of the Canadian dollar ranges from 80 cents to 90 cents. If the Canadian and US dollars are at parity, this would put the Chinese Yuan-to-Canadian dollar exchange rate ranging from 5.12 Canadian dollars-to-Chinese Yuan to 5.76. This means that it would take anywhere from 5.12 to 5.76 Chinese Yuan to purchase a single Canadian dollar on the international currency market.

As of May 12, the exchange rate was 6.1 Chinese Yuan to Canadian dollars.

This confronts people like Andrew Jackson with a very stark question: just how far should Canada's dollar be de-valued, and by what means, in order to allow Canadian manufactured goods to gain a competitive foothold against Chinese products, let alone in Asian markets? And what kind of other economic disaster would befall Canada if the dollar were artificially devalued to that extent?

Imagine what would happen to the royalties collected from resource exports, among other things. One thing becomes perfectly clear: whatever the future of Canada's economy, it had best noted by planned by the braintrusts of the Progressive Economic Forum. They're pretty clueless.

Oh Good Lord, Thomas Mulcair, You Have GOT to be Kidding

Mulcair pretending his caucus isn't anti-Israel

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is a man with a problem. Many problems, actually. But far too many of them are entirely self-created, and they're piling up.

His most recent problem? His caucus is virulently anti-Israel. But he wants to pretend that it isn't.

"I firmly reject any such affirmation with regards to our caucus," Mulcair recently insisted.

But once again -- as so many times before -- Mulcair is banking on the idea that Canadians just haven't been paying any attention.

The most obvious problem with Mulcair's denial of the anti-Israel bias bubbling in the very soul of his party's caucus is that of his deputy leader, Vancouver East MP Libby Davies. Davies has become infamous for a series of bizarre statements about Israel, including referring to it as the longest military occupation in history.

(The people of Kurdistan, for just one example, may beg to differ with that.)

It shouldn't be believed that Mulcair hasn't tried. He hasn't tried very hard, but he has tried. He has enough problems within his own caucus and the greater far-left community over support from "the Israel lobby" in his leadership campaign.

The anti-Israel lobby wasn't a problem for the NDP when they were in opposition and had no chance of governing. In fact, it was a reliable source of cheap and easy political support. But now that the NDP are contending for government, they no longer enjoy the convenience of appealing for cheap and easy political support by appealing to the far-left fringe.

Mulcair isn't fooling anybody. His caucus is virulently anti-Israel. If he wants his party to be considered fit to govern, he's going to need to do something about it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why the Yellow Journalists of the Left Are So Obsessed WIth the Fraser Institute

They just don't like its politics -- and that's about it

Ever since the Canadian government started more closely scrutinizing the activities of left-wing organizations like Tides Canada -- most importantly, how they use their charitable status -- the Canadian far-left has lost its collective mind.

Or maybe it had always lost its collective mind. It's hard to tell.

But the truth is that this isn't really about the Fraser Institute. Not really. They're trying to make it about the Fraser Institute, but that's just a not-so-clever distraction. In reality, this whole issue is about how left-wing "charitable organizations" have misused their charitable status and broken the rules.

In reality, it all started with Vivian Krause.

It was Krause who was intrepid enough to dig through the tax returns of various far-left "charitable organizations," and disovered something: that they were devoting an awful lot of their resources not to conducting charitable work, but to political activities.

In particular, Krause highlighted the miseeds of Tides Canada. Among other things, this included giving big money grants to various Canadian groups for a grand anti-"Tarsands" campaign. It also included a rather cozy relationship between Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and longtime Tides Canada vice-Chairman Joel Solomon.

They're very disconcerting relevations that naturally led to a Canada Revenue Agency investigation of Tides Canada.

And so the far-left has turned its attention to the Fraser Institute. In the last post on this blog, I attributed this to an eye-for-an-eye mentality among the Canadian far-left. But then the question remains: why the Fraser Institute?

There's nothing quite like getting it in their own words: because they despise the political beliefs on which the Fraser Institute was founded, and because they resent its success.

In a long, lingering article on the issue, Vancouver Observer "reporter" Jenny Uechl never strays beyond this simple thesis: the Koch foundation gives money to the Fraser Institute because they share a common political outlook. And because the Koch brothers' political beliefs are bad, the Fraser Institute is therefore bad. No real explanation of why, but the frantic tenor of the article is so overwhelming it reads like it was written from a feinting couch.

The Fraser Institute gives scholarships -- the horror! The Fraser Institute holds seminars -- what an outrage! The Fraser Institute offers internships -- how dare they! And despite the fact that all of these things are well within the bounds of what the Income Tax Act defines as charitable activity -- with an obvious focus on education -- it's all paraded about as if it were somehow improper.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Uechl also obviously resents the Fraser Institute for its success. Blowing her dog whistle so hard she risks shooting her eyes out of it like blowdarts, Uechl reads the roll call of successful conservative activists -- and favoured targets of the left -- like Ezra Levant, Katryn Marshall and Danielle Smith, all of whom have gone on to greater roles within the conservative movement.

But more than anything, Uechl resents the Fraser Institute's success compared to its equivalents on the political left. With a certain bitterness she notes that the Fraser Institute annually raises as much as $10.8 million in revenue -- compared to a mere $1.7 for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Never mind that the Kochs' contribution of $500,000 over several years is but a drop in the Fraser Institute bucket -- apparently the Koch foundation supporting the research of an organization they clearly agree with is some kind of travesty. Beyond her resentment of the Fraser Institute's success, Uechl can't explain quite how.

But this is how yellow journalism and dog whistle politics works. It doesn't appeal to the rational minds of its target audience, and it doesn't really care for facts or logic. It's meant to envoke deep, gutteral, emotional reactions. It's a form of journalism that makes itself well at home in the realm of the irrational and the small-minded.

Which is why no one should expect any kind of a rational explanation for why the far-left seems to think that an organization that follows the rules should be punished anyway. That's just not what this is about, and it never has been.