March 24, 2006

Hampton Helps Farm Protester

This is probably one of the best examples of why I was attracted to the NDP under Hampton. Besides finding Hampton insightful, dedicated and strong, I have always found him to be caring and genuine when it comes to dealing with people. This article, Hampton helps farm protester, gives a great example of that character. While McGuinty completely ignores this, literally, poor farmer, Hampton gives the farmer a chance to continue his fight.

March 21, 2006

Suzuki and McGuinty

It's fascinating that McGuinty would publically admit that he considered Suzuki an idol when the Ontario government is making some really uneducated and ridiculous decisions regarding power. Why make a comment like that when it seems like you haven't really been listening? To stand up in front of Suzuki and make that statement is basically inviting him to challenge you... And challenge McGuinty he did.

I think it was a good move for Suzuki to speak out against the recommendation by the Ontario Power Authority to expand Ontario's nuclear power supply. Besides nuclear energy being a hazard to dispose of, it also comes with a high price tag. Ontario's first nuclear power plant ran over budget by triple the estimated cost. OPA says the cost will only be $40billion. Let's not forget though that Ontario currently runs in the red already which means we can't afford that kind of cost. Imagine the effect if that estimate were to run over by triple. Let's also not forget that the current nuclear power plants have also cost Ontario billions of dollars in repairs and upgrades to and then they eventually cost us our public energy program. When Suzuki starts speaking out against expanding nuclear power generation in Ontario, he isn't just rambling on and speaking 'lefty', he actually has full justification in being weary about OPA's recommendation to the province.

The best part came when Suzuki offered to be a spokesperson for a better alternative to nuclear power in Ontario. He explains that Ontario should focus more on alternative energy plans such as allowing homes and businesses to produce their own power and energy conservation. While it may take some real planning and campaigning to push these ideas to be more 'mainstream', Suzuki is the perfect person to have out there. The man holds a lot of weight and respect and used in a smart way, he could provide a real impact in changing the way energy is looked at in this province. I also think it would be stupid for McGuinty to reject an offer from such a respected Canadian. To reject the offer would give the impression that McGuinty isn't really trying to improve the system; that he isn't truly looking for progress.

The only setback to this whole plan is that not all of the alternative energy plans the Ontario government is looking to implement have a lot of meat to them. The plans, especially the one that allows residential and commercial energy production, are weak when it comes to incentives. There are no real incentives to invest in solar and wind projects except that part of your energy bill will get paid off by it. The problem is that for many people the cost to even install these projects are too high and the pay back time is too long. Other breaks such as tax incentives for the both the manufacturers and purchasers should be offered to encourage lower purchasing cost and better motivation to install.

Further links:

March 20, 2006

it's time to suck it up and admit you're wrong (softwood)

I realize I'm a few days behind but I wanted to throw in my two-cents (or after the exchange rate on randomnoisians to CAD: .113 cents). Anyway, the news is that Canada, once again, has won a NAFTA hearing against the US over softwood. And once again, Canada didn't receive a refund cheque from the US.

I'm not sure what problem is really. It is obvious that the NAFTA tribunal isin favour of Canada and will continue to be. Now, I get that repaying $5billion is a lot to ask when you have a debt load in the trillions. I get that having a powerful lobbyist group breathing down your neck can be scary especially when you're not favourable in opnion polls. I also get that winning some WTO rulings can confuse the issue. But seriously, NAFTA is binding by law. And in a country that is governed by law and the country is being run by a guy who thinks the law is everything, then shouldn't you concede defeat?

Let's be realistic here. No one really believes this is an issue of so called subsidies in Canada. It's really an issue of the States trying pad their own industries. However, it has come down to an argument of WTO rulings versus NAFTA rulings. But the WTO argument is extremely weak because it is not binding and the rules are based on general principles of free trade so that they can apply to everyone. NAFTA on the other hand is specific to industry and country and, most important, it is binding by law. For me, this is a no brainer and the constant shuffling and squirming coming from the States has got to end. They've dragged it on for way too long and their options are now more limited than ever. Their excuses and loopholes have also been diminished and to the point that any more delays will only completely expose their lack of justification for continuing to slap duties on Canadian softwood lumber.

March 08, 2006

Stats, Women and Child-Care

On the front page of The Star today there is an article about how there is many more women doing things on their own; raising children alone, living on their own, etc. This article is accompanied by a selection of statistics from a few different sources.

Some of these stats make compliment each other. With divorce apparently up by 400% since the 1960's and marriages down by 8% since 1981, the statistic that there are double the number of single women with and without children seems to make sense. One stat seems odd is that in 2003, 31% of unattached women aged 16 and over were in the low-income category.

This number may seem fairly high if taken at face value. However, it's the beginning age of 16 that makes me curious. Why would a stat looking at unattached women begin with 16 year olds? I'm assuming that when questioned about being "unattached" that would mean not married or common-law. At 16, I don't think I ever knew of a female being legally attached. In fact, I would think that between the ages of 16-19, the majority of women are not legally attached. For the purposes of the stat wouldn't this put that age range at a disproportionately high volume when compared to many of the older age groups? Furthermore, at this age range, doesn't it make sense that they are also in the low-income category? Since almost all women between the ages of 16-19 are in secondary school or recently graduated, having a job that pays significantly more than minimum wage seems somewhat unrealistic. And if that is the case, wouldn't this also skew the numbers for the poll? I'm not trying to undermine the significance of the poll, I'm just trying to understand it better.

The last stat of those provided is the most startling of them all. It also sheds some light on why child poverty in Canada is such a pressing issue. The stat claims that 38% of households headed by single mothers are in the low-income category. That is over 1/3 of single mother households. This is a stat that I think is also important because Canada is about to find out what kind future child-care has in this country.

In April, when Parliament resumes, there is going to be a battle between a nation-wide child-care program that offers more spaces, which are desperately needed or a parental allowance of $1200, which provides options to parents. From where I stand, I think the national child-care (NCC) program provides both spaces and options.

For one thing, for years there have been complaints about the lack of spaces at affordable prices. The NCC provides money to the provincial governments to create the needed spaces at a reasonable cost. The allowance only provides parents with $1200 per child under the age of 6. However, this $1200 is taxable which means its actually less than $1200. It also doesn't provide more spaces for child-care. So even if you wanted to send your child to a centre, there's a good chance that either it won't cover the cost of the placement or there won't be one for your child. In other words, the taxable allowance more likely limits your options than provides you with more.

There are a couple positions that are often brought up in regards to the child-care debate. The first is that the government is going to offer tax-incentives to businesses to create in-house child-care and second, that some parents have a concern over having the government 'raise' their child. With the first position, the idea has been tried before in Canada. It didn't work then and I have my doubts it will work now. Companies aren't in the business of day-care. It's not as simple as just clearing out the staff lunch room and hiring a baby-sitter. Actual space would have to be created, then certified specialists would have to be hired and paid. There are a host of liabilities that would also need to be covered. The problem is not that there is some kind of tax incentive involved but that these companies probably don't want to deal with these processes. I doubt very much that the tax incentive would cover the entire cost the offered child-care because if that were the case, wouldn't it just be better for parents that the government stick with a national child-care program? Maybe not because it may be cheaper by not having one. Though, that doesn't solve any problems that we're currently facing.

In terms of the second position, that some parents are concerned over the idea of government raising their child, I don't think the argument holds any weight. If parents are truly concerned about their children being raised by someone else then don't send them. Just because there is a national child-care program doesn't mean your child has to be sent to one. If it's just a concern about the government in particular running the centre then children shouldn't be going to any day care at all since it is all regulated by the government in the first place. It would also be interesting to know whether or not these same parents have a concern over their child going to school. Let's face it when your child goes to school they are learning both academic and social skills. Public and private schools are full of education that goes beyond math, language, etc. Teachers are considered the third most important influence on a child's life after parents and friends. Where do most children meet friends? At school. This means that two of the three most important influences on a child's life are found at school. School then can be considered to have a very big part in raising a child. So how would sending your child to a public day care be any different than sending your child to school?

When looking at the statistic of single moms in the low-income category, this raises some serious concerns. There's a good chance that many of these women can't afford child-care and therefore may not be able to work and have to live off the welfare system or are working only low-paying part-time jobs, etc. If they were to receive only the $1200 allowance, this still wouldn't afford them a better opportunity because of the lack of spaces and affordability. Having a greater number of spaces at better rates may allow for these women to pursue better paying, full-time work. And isn't this ultimately a way to partially correct the problem that more than 1/3 of single mothers are in the low-income bracket and there is a child poverty crisis in Canada? I would argue it is. Poverty in general is a problem that plagues many Western nations despite the fact that these nations have more than enough money to correct the problem within their own borders. It's time that Canada did something positive to correct this serious issue and right an overdue wrong.

March 07, 2006

a slow, deep breath...

There are always times when people feel they've pushed, or have been pushed, to the a peak and then at the end there's the collapse. This doesn't necessarily mean there was success or victory or even the opposite. I wouldn't even think it means a person has been pushed to potential. There are just times when a person, for a specific period of time, has just peaked in that moment. And for the cliche kicker, I think I'm in one of those cycles and on the down slope. Not necessarily due to blogging but it is part of the equation.

Between the neverending election, the outcome, the fallouts, etc. I have found myself in a serious slow period of inspiration and motivation to blog. It's not that I haven't wanted to write but I have found many of the things I've wanted to say held a greater tone of anger and cynicism than usual. And neither of these would really lead to productive or relevant things to say. I look at guys like Cherniak and Wudrick and lately many of their posts have carried a very negative and angry tone. I mean no offense to either one of these guys, I consider both to have very significant and meaningful places in the Canadian political blogosphere but I can't help wondering what is pushing their posts to be so negative as of late?

Cherniak, for example, has done some posting about his thoughts on the NDP and recently the Green Party. None of these posts seem to be taken very seriously, especially the NDP ones, and provoked a lot of backlash (see the comments). The blacklash was as much for his misrepresentations as it was for his nonsense. They amounted to nothing more than tangents. Wudrick hasn't been much better. Where his posting once made me think he could be one the greatest opponents of the Liberals and NDP if he were ever to get into politics seriously, they now just make me think that he's lost in the ideology of the right, floating blind. With the audience that both of these guys command there is a great opportunity for them to seriously contribute - like they once did - instead of just throwing out blind-partisan commentary.

This is just my opinion and maybe I'm way off base and misreading them but at this point I'm calling it like I see it. The point is though that I didn't want to get into that. That is why for the last while I have been taking a slow, deep breath from writing anything serious. I don't always agree that negative commentary produces relevance in the discussions that are needed to contribute to and produce knowledge and truth. And isn't that really the ultimate goal; knowledge and truth? To find the answers that are required, to push ourselves forward, to create the best situation for all of us, isn't it knowledge and truth that we need. Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive enough to think perfection is going to be found within my lifetime or ever quite possibly but I am idealistic enough to believe we can produce better than we currently have and are in. And it's because of this ideal of mine, posting will be light for the next while until I can find my line of sight once again and push forward, hopefully in a more meaningful and productive way.

In the meantime, if you're interested, you can visit my newest project. Amazingly enough, I do have interests beyond politics. My most recent interest has been going into my photoblog, Finding Focus. It's a work in progress and only in the beginning stages, but I hope people find it enjoyable nonetheless.

March 02, 2006

Oh Mr. Emerson, why can't you just learn when to shutup?!

Emerson may be considered a very smart business man, but he is definitely turning out to be an idiot in politics and is providing a lot of material to be made the butt of many jokes.

First there was his comment about how he didn't think his defection would cause an uproar. That in business jumping ship is a normal, accepted practice. In reality Mr. Emerson, politics isn't a corporation and the government isn't business. Despite how much neo-conservatives wished they were the same, they aren't and should never be.

Then there was his comment about not running as a partisan. Could of fooled us... oh wait, you did! You see, when you run under the banner of a particular political party, especially when it's a party such as the Liberals, you've run as a partisan. Running as an independant would have signalled non-partisan status, not running under the white and red of the Liberals.

And then there's his musing of supporting the floor-crossing bill that would require MPs to sit as independants if they want out of their parties... One can only imagine how the line of reasoning about this comment played out in Emerson's head.

More recently he openly confessed that he actually believes if he were to run in a by-election he would most likely win. Has he even seen the numbers for the Conservatives in his riding? Not only did they lose that riding, they weren't even close to matching the numbers of the NDP who came second. His riding (Vancouver-Kingsway) has a history of voting Liberal and NDP. This is definitely not a centre-right riding. Vancouver-Kingsway voted to not be in the government by electing a Liberal despite all the warnings the Conservatives would win. This also begs the question that if Emerson is so sure he would win a by-election, why doesn't he run in one? Because he wouldn't win!!

At some point, Emerson needs to learn that he shouldn't be speaking in public. From what I can tell he mainly says inane things that only serve to make him look like an idiot. Maybe it's a good thing that he's no longer a Liberal. Ultimately, who would want to have a politician that is obviously clueless in politics? Well, I guess the Conservatives do...

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)