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Archive for May, 2009

This Isn’t News!

I am no fan of Pierre Pollievre. I think he is one of the least competent MPs in the House of Commons, and should be tossed out by his constituents at the earliest possible opportunity (although Jack Layton seems content to let this government fester for the time being – I wonder what all the DipperBlogs with their sidebar buttons have to say about that? Nothing? Quelle suprise.). However, the use of the term Tar Baby is not something that the opposition should be focusing on. It is at best a petty distraction from the issues of the day.

Do I think that Pierre was referring to black children when he used the term? No. I think he was referring to a somewhat outdated Southern colliquialism from Brer Rabbit stories, that, because of cultural issues, took on racial connotations over the years.

There are three types of people who are harping about this comment. There are those who are genuinely offended by this racially charged comment, but it is my expectation that they are in the vast minorty. There are those who jump on every perceived violation of Canada’s doctrine of unflinching political correctness, in another step in eliminating all of this countries independant thought or reasoned debate, but I do beleive that these people are well intentioned, if annoying, but few and far between.

The worst group of people are those who are hypocritically trying to exploit this statement for political game. I would lump into this category every member of the Liberal caucus, and especially Warren Kinsella, who, while being an astute strategist and knowing when something is going to get some ink, continues to harp on this non issue on his I-don’t-care-what-you-call-it-because-it’s-still-a-blog to the detriment of talking about all the substantively bad things that are being done by the government. Besides, drawing attention to this comment serves only to draw attention to what Pierre was referring to as the ‘tar baby’, the Carbon Tax, which, while I am convinced is still a good idea, doesn’t seem to be ‘on message’ for the party at the moment.

There is a FIFTY BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT! Get with it! I am ashamed by my party. We should be focusing on things that matter.

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Apparently PETA has a new campaign out asking people to boycott maple syrup until the seal hunt is stopped. For one thing, I dont really understand why the seal hunt is such a priority for PETA – it ends up being one of the most humane, free range, ecologically sound hunting activities in the world. It has far less impact on the environment than beef or pork production, and is undeniably less cruel.

PETA is clearly not above being dishonest in this campaign, which stops just short of saying that the whitecoat baby seals are hunted during the annual harvest. They are not. But this is nothing new.

PETA’s campaigns perplex me. I don’t really get the connection between maple syrup and the seal hunt. It also doesn’t make sense from a campaign standpoint either. While the maple syrup industry is certainly important, I don’t see how hurting the Quebec based industry is going to put financial pressure on a completely seperate region. This is, at best, going to have a negative effect on the regional economy of Quebec, but is certainly not going to do much to impact the national economy as a whole. Boycotting oil or autos might make an impact, but again, this seems akin to threatening a neighbourhood because of the actions of one resident by saying that they’re going to egg a neighbours house.

Then again, I have not come to expect much from PETA campaigns. They always appear to appeal to emotion rather than to rationality. After all, who cares if the fish that you’re eating reminds you of a kitten. Since they’re not above being dishonest, it would be more effective to scare people by overblowing the risks of heavy metal contamination in seafood. Self interest is a far better motivator than trying to convince people that fish are cuddly.

In a somewhat related note, if anyone knows where to get seal products – meat, oil, furs or tanned skins – in Calgary or Vancouver, I want to hear about it. If the market for sealskin in Europe is going to collapse, we should pick up the slack here. I like wearing leather coats, and would be just delighted if I could add something seal-sourced to my wardrobe. And apparently, seal flipper pie is delicious.

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Mystery Clock

A good friend of mine I met originally on the Dion campaign, Mr. Corey Hogan, has a website. It’s not much, but it’s mysterious. It’s … a clock. The background appears to be a bunch of little stylized Albertas followed, in alternating fashion, by “Liberal” and “Hogan”.

Something is apparently going on Monday at 9:00 AM…

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I know the Blogosphere has already reached capacity on Bill 44, the Act to End Evolution, but there are grievances that I have with my former province that seem almost unbelievable.

The Progressive Conservative Association (because they apparently aren’t a Party, or something) is not unlike the LDP of Japan. A friend of mine recently described Japanese democracy as a bizarre Kabuki pantomime that people act out every once and a while. Alberta is not dissimilar, but in a more frustrating way. The Stelmach government is apparently thinking of downgrading a number of Rural Hospitals to “Health Centres”, which would remove the 24 hour emergency health care access and acute care facilities. How this is a good idea is beyond me.

I do not understand how a government can spontaneously produce $4 billion worth of debt in a single year. I do not understand how health care can be centralized – completely reorganized – without paying attention to what people in the health care profession think is a good idea. I don’t understand how services can be delisted when treating the long term effects of not performing these procedures is going to cost more money.

But what really drives me nuts is how Albertans keep voting for them.

There is going to be a by-election in Calgary Glenmore following the resignation of the MLA there to become a Judge. There are some interesting candidates who I have heard rumoured, and it’s not an unwinnable riding, especially given how by-elections are more governed by turnout then overwhelming political sentiment. This does not change that the PCs are the odds on favorite to win the riding. What I can’t understand is why.

The PCs do not manage money well. They are out of touch with Albertans. They are, more often than not, on the wrong moral side of a lot of things that Albertans care about. Why do people not vote in their own interest? Every political philosophy, except perhaps a political manifestation of sado-masochism, indicates that you should vote for either your interests or the interests of those around you. The PCs are acting towards neither.

I get to watch, with alarming frequency, my parents (and I suppose, according to my Driver’s License, mine – note to self, change to BC DL ASAP), my MLA Lindsay Blackett, bumble along in the Legislature trying to defend a bill that is clearly idiotic. Do the people who live in Calgary North West really want to be able to opt their children out of evolution classes? And if they don’t are they under the impression that they would be better off if others were able to do the same thing? Or that others would be better off not knowing what is overwhelmingly supported by evidence.

As someone who was taught intelligent design in High School, alongside evolution, I feel that my rights to a scientific education free of religious influence was violated. I didn’t know the background behind ID at the time, and I would have been infuriated had I known then what I know now, but I didn’t have that chance. It was nothing less than a violation of my freedom of conscience. The only saving grace is that I still got to learn about the facts (although the fact that butterflies were glued to tree bark to dramatize a point about natural selection doesn’t really indicate that the Alberta curriculum has much faith in the intelligence of its students). Student’s deserve to know about the world. Protecting them from the knowledge isn’t going to protect them from reality, it only serves to make them less prepared.

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The election has come and gone, and the BC Liberals are back with another majority. This majority is going to consist of 49 seats, and, depending on a Judicial Recount in Delta South, may add to it by one. However, as it stands, it looks like the next MLA from the riding is going to be Vicki Huntington.

As someone who worked on the Oppal campaign, my opinion is not objective. A friend of mine, and a blogger with about the same frequency as me, has said that “it would be difficult for you to be less objective”. But I didn’t get as wrapped up in this whole election as I did the Dion saga, which led me to wake up on October 15th thinking, for the first time in my life, “I wish I had drank more last night”.

However, I would like to offer some advice to the new government as to how they should engage the new MLA, and the voters of Delta South.

Don’t.

They have elected someone who is going to be completely powerless in our system of government. The Westminster system has been based in parties in Canada forever, and there is no need to change that. Let her say her piece in committee, but Independants are fundamentally damaging to our democratic strucutre, as are most regional representation systems that lack partisanship.

Partisanship is good. It ensures that a broad vision for the province is balanced against local issues. It allows a vision to be shaped within a caucus to take into account the different regional issues that are presented, balance them, and emerge with a plan that isn’t parochially driven.

For an example of such a system, take a look at the old Translink board of directors. This board was filled with regional reps fighting for their own piece of the transit pie, while the people who needed transit the most – UBC students, Downtown Commutters, and people from the Tri-Cities were left out in the cold. BC’s worst mayor, Derek Corrigan of Burnaby, consistantly opposed further development of the Skytrain, mostly becuase none of it could help his city. This is unnacceptable, and I was delighted when the board became an unelected board of experts with elected oversight. If only it had held a seat for UBC on the Council, it would have been perfect.

I don’t feel particularly sad for Mr. Oppal. He has the ability to make a lot more money working a lot less hard just about anywhere else that he wants. I feel bad for our justice system, which could have used his help, for our party, within which he was a star to be sure, and for our province, which is losing one of its ablest Cabinet ministers. And, of course, for Delta South, which is going to have precicely no influence in the next Parliament. But, then again, voters get the representation they deserve.

I agree that Vicki Huntington is going to bring a new type of represntation to Victoria. The kind that nobody will listen to.

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