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We’re Sorry We Tried to Screw You… Now Gimme!

Imagine the cojones you’ve got to be carrying around to have tried to screw Obama during the Democratic Primary by raising doubts about the extent to which he will protect American industry and then – after he’s managed to overcome the hurdles you tossed in front of him – begging him to give you an exception to the detriment of American industry! 

Let’s be clear about this… I’d like to see a Canadian exemption as much as anyone in this country (save for the people whose jobs directly depend on the steel industry) and I’m as big a proponent of lying to oneself as you’ll find in this world. But come on, Stock! You’ve gotta be kidding!

Filed under: Damn Yankees, Oh, Canada, , ,

Heaven Forbid!

Phew! That was a close one! But we can all sleep easily now that the Honourable Diane Finley has assured Canadians that the Conservative government has no interest in a long-term social housing investment. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you were equally concerned that the Conservatives had recognized the importance of social housing or really any of the concerns faced by major Canadian cities. 

Tonight, I will lay my head down on my pillow, tucked safely in my cozy bed and drift easily off to sleep knowing that my federal government is not interested in a long-term plan to ensure that lower-income Canadians can do the same thing. God bless you, Diane Finley, and God bless Canada!

Filed under: Oh, Canada

Feigning Indignation

Warren Kinsella hardly needs my help to defend himself. But as someone who has been the subject of numerous attacks – usually by anonymous Conservatives who choose to feign indignation for comments that are almost always taken out of context – I thought that I’d weigh in on this issue.

I’ll admit without shame that I found Warren’s joke funny. And while the joke was inappropriate, the biggest reason that I found it funny was because I do not believe for a second that the man meant the joke as anything other than an inappropriate joke. His record on human rights and especially minority rights here in Canada.

I will not point out the irony in the fact that the accusations of prejudice are coming from a party whose members have long equated homosexuality with sodomy, bestiality; have blamed immigrants for Canadian crime and violence; have equated abortion with beheadings; have asked Aboriginals not to scalp him; and of course we could go on for days.

Alice Wong, the M.P. who has addressed this great offense in the House of Commons, has herself equated refugees with criminals and terrorists, believes herself to have been summoned by God to enter politics, and believes that gambling leads to STDs.

If the Conservatives were at all interested in ending racial prejudice in Canada, they would expel a significant portion of their caucus and party membership. But they’re not. Their interest is in courting Chinese (and Jewish, etc…) votes. That’s it. Plain and simple.

Warren’s joke was inappropriate – as are many of the jokes that I make on a daily basis. But we judge a man on the measure of his actions more than his words. And Warren’s action on the issue of minority and human rights are above reproach. So just shut up already.

After all, the only real scandal that I can recall in Canadian politics involving a reference to a cat was this one.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

Making a Splash

When competing in a large field of candidates, the object of an ad is – as much as anything else – to stand out. This commercial acomplishes just that for Charlie Wheelan, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and one of 15 competitors for the Democratic nomination in the race to replace Rahm Emanuel in Congress.

The commercial is apparently being done by Bill Hillsman, the man behind the clever commercials that put Paul Wellstone on the map.

Filed under: Damn Yankees

Revealed: New NDP Commercial

You’ve no doubt heard by now that the NDP have unleashed a wave of radio commercials arguing that Layton is the only leader with the cojones to stand up to Harper’s evil empire. We here at The Centre for Strategic Studies have also received an advanced copy of the accompanying television spots. While technical difficulties prevented us from uploading the video, we’re pleased to be the first to bring you the transcript of the video:

Camera pans from the bright blue morning sky down to 24 Sussex, where Ben and Rachel Harper are sitting down to a bowl of Cheerio’s.
Narrator: It’s morning in the Harper household. We’ve secretly replaced these children’s father with Michael Ignatief. We’ll see if they notice.
As Michael enters the room, Ben and Rachel rush over and shake his hand as if he were there real father.
Suddenly, Jack Layton bursts in the door clad in orange spandex with a green bicycle helmet and cape.
Layton: Canada needs a new kind of strong. You know I’m strong because I have a moustache! So in the next election, you could vote for one of the two parties that has a realistic chance of forming government or you could vote NDP!

We’ll try to bring you the video as soon as possible.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

The Jokes Are Just Too Obvious

This article courtesy of NewScientist:

Men might want to remember a new rhyme: a drink a day keeps erectile dysfunction away.

Despite traditional views about the effects of booze on male performance, new research suggests that moderate drinking actually protects against impotence in the long term – perhaps for the same reason a glass or two of wine a day cuts the odds of suffering from heart disease.

There is good evidence that excessive drinking can hinder sexual performance after a night out – a phenomenon sometimes called “brewer’s droop”. The effect has been noted for many years: “[Drink] provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance,” Shakespeare reminds us in Macbeth.

But over longer periods, moderate drinking doesn’t seem to be linked to erectile dysfunction, says Kew-Kim Chew, an epidemiologist at the University of West Australia in Nedlands, whose team conducted an anonymous postal survey of 1770 West Australian men.

After accounting for differences due to age, smoking and heart disease – all risk factors for ED – Chew and colleagues found that drinkers experienced rates of impotence 25% to 30% below those of teetotallers.

Heart link

The study did not examine how alcohol seems to protect against ED, but he thinks antioxidants in some kinds of alcohol play a role. Other studies suggest that both red and white wine protect against heart disease via a similar mechanism.

One theory holds that ED and heart disease are both manifestations of the same disease. Indeed, Chew found that men who suffer from ED are more likely to go onto develop heart disease.

Chew calls for further research on the connection between alcohol, impotence and heart disease. And he says his team’s study should not give men a new reason to hit the bottle. “It would be socially irresponsible to say that even a binge drinker can get some benefits.”

As I said, the jokes are just too easy on this one.

Filed under: Apolitical

Back to the Future – Part 1

We here at The Centre for Strategic Centrism are always seeking new features to excite your senses and spark your cerebral cortex. Today we unveil a new feature at The Centre: Back to the Future. It’s not just a great movie franchise anymore, my friends. Each week (well, whenever we darn well feel like it really) we will invite a prominent figure to join us in the time machine and travel back to a simpler time.

Our first guest is none other than President of the Treasury Board Vic Toews (who is also President of the Canadian Chapter of the Moustache Afficianados). He and I will travel all the way back to 2002 to discuss the impact of debt on Canadians. So without further adieu, let’s give a warm round of applause to Mr. Vic Toews…

A Legacy Of Debt

The Fraser Institute recently released its analysis of Canadian government debt.  The news is not good.  While it is true that the federal government has been able to eliminate its annual budgetary deficit since the mid-1990’s, that is small comfort for those who are worried about the continuing rate of government spending and public debt.  The report points out how serious the issue of government debt remains in Canada.

The Fraser Institute study reveals that the net direct debt of all three levels of government in Canada fell from $851 billion to $797 billion between 1997 and 2001.  However, this is a small drop when compared to the overall increase in the debt over the last decade: it was only $533 billion in 1991.  In other words, the Canadian debt has increased $264 billion over the last decade.

Even the modest success that governments have had since 1996 in eliminating annual deficits and beginning to pay down the mountain of public debt is more than offset by increases in other government liabilities, which grew significantly from 1996 to 2001.  While the total government debt may have decreased by $54 billion since 1996, the total liabilities under programs such as the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans, the Old Age Security, and the Medicare system have increased by $279 billion during the same period of time.

The Fraser study points out that the largest portion of the total program debt is made up of “un-funded liabilities.”  An un-funded liability arises because the estimated future revenues required to support a program fall short of the expected future payouts of benefits under those programs.  The funding assumptions that these programs were based on at their inception have proven false.

There is little comfort in examining Canada’s direct debt burden relative to the rest of the countries in the world.  Canada ranks 63rd overall among 126 jurisdictions.  More important, however, are the relative rankings generated by comparisons with other high-income nations.  Canada has one of the highest debt burdens among high-income countries, ranking 17th out of 19.  Only Italy and Belgium rank lower.

Un-funded liabilities that are not addressed will translate into more debt.  In the words of the Fraser study we can only address this problem if Canadian governments do not assume new and larger obligations and if we focus our attention on the long-term problems built into the existing programs.  This is not a time for any politician to create a political legacy by implementing new programs.

If we put off considering all the alternatives for achieving the goals of our important social programs, the crushing economic reality that is generated by government debt – our collective debt – will eliminate many of those alternatives for us.  Better to make the hard choices now.

Let me just thank Mr. Toews for joining us here and remind you to come back soon for another exciting round of Back to the Future!

Filed under: Oh, Canada

Back to the Future – Part 2

Given the strong response that we had to our first installment of Back to the Future, we decided that we’d do it all over again. So in this special segment of Back to the Future, we’re very excited to welcome Mr. Monte Solberg, former National Revenue cricket for the Conservatives, and Minister of Human Resources and Social Development before retiring from politics. He and I will be taking a trip back to the dawn of the new Millenium (somewhere around the year 2000).

I hope you’ll all join me in welcoming him to our show.

A concrete plan to pay down the debt Fixing our national debt is a top priority. Every year Ottawa spends nearly three times as much money on interest payments as it spends on health and education. Ottawa’s debt means that every Canadian child born today carries a nearly $18,000 load on his or her shoulders. The debt also hurts our dollar and our international competitiveness, since foreign investors avoid countries with large debt burdens. Unfortunately the Liberals will only commit to a mere $3 billion per year to pay down our $565 billion debt. At that rate, it will take 188 years before we are debt free. No Canadian family would plan on taking 200 years to pay off their mortgage. The government shouldn’t either. Canada needs a debt reduction strategy that is balanced and responsible. The Alliance will take a two-pronged approach: 

  1. A legislated debt reduction plan which will set out the minimum annual payment on our national debt. At first, we will pay $6 billion per year. The payment will increase as the economy grows until the debt is gone. Most important, this plan is politician-proof. No matter which party is elected in the future, no matter who the Finance Minister is, the government will be legally obligated to pay down the debt according to this plan. 
  2. Devote “extra” money to debt repayment. A Canadian Alliance government will act just like any prudent Canadian family. When we bring in more money than expected, we will put 75 per cent of this extra, unprojected surplus towards paying down our national mortgage – NOT into new spending. It’s the best choice we can make to secure our children’s future. 

A similar plan introduced in Alberta led to the elimination of Alberta’s net debt years ahead of schedule even while oil prices were at near record lows. With Alberta’s former Finance Minister Stockwell Day as leader of the Canadian Alliance, we plan to turn this “Alberta advantage” into a “Canada advantage.” 

I’d like to thank Mr. Solberg for joining me on today’s program and remind you to join us again soon for another exciting episode of Back to the Future!

Filed under: Oh, Canada

Good Riddance!

Until about a year ago, I was an addict. I’m not proud to admit it, but I had a monkey on my back and for the life of me I couldn’t get it off. That monkey had a name: java. Nine cups a day. Between my coffee habit, a lack of physical activity (at the time) eating habits that consisted mostly of fast food and buckets of salt and a high-stress job that kept me in the office an average of twelve hours a day, my body began to beg for mercy. One day, we had the good folks from the Heart and Stroke Foundation stop by to offer free blood pressure checks. After checking my blood pressure three times to ensure that they were administering it correctly, I was informed that at the tender age of 25 my blood pressure was in hypertension range.

So I made some changes. I eliminated almost all the salt from my diet, switched from beer to red wine and gave up my coffee habit cold turkey, opting instead for green tea which helps to lower blood pressure (this led to a great deal of ridicule when I visited my family back home on the prairies). Any way, in the last year my coffee consumption has been limited to a single cup. 

Nevertheless, my disdain for decaf coffee has not waned. I would prefer to give up the stuff altogether than drink decaf. Which is why I was delighted to hear that Starbucks is cutting back on the swill. It seems that in an effort to cut costs, the Mother Corp. will only be brewing decaf to order after noon. Now at first blush, I would think that orders of decaf coffee would increase after lunch rather than decrease. But then again I’m not going to pretend to understand those people.

Filed under: Apolitical

Return to Dreidelgate

dreidelgate1

This week marks a number of milestones that have been reported ad nauseum throughout the blogosphere – the end of the reign of President George W. Bush (which I personally believe is the second time that Americans have believed that a Bush would never occupy the White House again); the inauguration of America’s first black President; and today’s executive orders marked the end of US government-sanctioned terrorism and the closing of the prisons at GITMO – but one milestone has not been discussed thus far.

 

One month ago, a Conservative staffer by the name of Georganne Burke (with a rather unique and interesting string of partisan credentials) threatened a Jewish school for the disabled in Toronto upon word that they had invited Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to a candle-lighting to celebrate the Jewish festival of Chanukah. I have discussed at length (here and here and here) how offensive this act is if true. Conservative commenters assured me that there was no truth to the allegations and that the government would make that clear after the holiday season.

 

Well, it’s been a month now. Am I the only one wondering what ever happened with Ms. Burke?

UPDATE: I stand corrected. Obama is a Protestant.

Filed under: Oh, Canada,