November 30, 2007

And While We're On the Topic of Activist Judges...

H/T to POGGE

As POGGE mentions, it will be all too soon before some Conservatives begin making baseless claims of 'anti-Americanism' and 'activist judges'. However, anyone with a sense of reason and somewhat of a conscience can see that this was destined to happen and it should be the case.

Canada has already seen one of its own sent off to a third party country to be tortured. And wrongly, I might add. Another Canadian is being held in Guantanamo Hell without any type of just judicial process in place. There are also debates taking place amongst policy and decision makers in the U.S. as to whether or not waterboarding constitutes torture, aside of the debates about whether or not they should allow torture in the first place.

This is simple, if the Americans are willing to send people away to be tortured or are willing to torture people themselves while also arresting and holding thousands of people without a justification, then Canada should not in any way be involved. And if that means we can no longer send refugees back to the U.S. because it would violate our own laws to do so, then that is what we must do. We can squabble all we want about how to treat terrorist prisoners, the validity of torture as an interogation tool, or even whether or not the U.S. is right, etc. The point is that current Canadian and U.N. laws and conventions declare we will not be party to such actions and therefore the judge was correct in throwing out the Safe Third Country Agreement.

November 29, 2007

Speculating Beyond Stupidity and Bigotry: Bill C-6

By now it is plainly obvious that the Conservatives' bill to force Muslim women is a nonsensical legislation and a waste of parliament's time. As many have pointed out, it has little to do with electoral integrity because there are glaring discrepancies in the current legislation that are held over in Bill C-6. These discrepancies include absentee ex-pats mailing in votes and non-photo identification being acceptable. Thus making a veiled woman uncover before she votes has no basis in integrity because there's no way to know if she's the person presenting the non-photo identification. So what is the motivation to force veiled women uncover prior to voting?

Some people are accusing the Conservatives of using this Bill to shore up support with the side of Quebec that was responsible and supportive of the farce that was (is?) Hérouxville. Or - possibly additionally - they are shoring up support of many of their far-right voters that may identify with anti-immigration, xenophobic, and other like views who may feel that the CPC haven't been conservative enough in their policies thus far. If either of these cases are true then the Conservatives are playing a very dangerous game in the self-interest of power. While it isn't a secret that the Conservatives would rather find a way to get more power than actually govern, one can only hope they wouldn't stoop as low as to encourage bigotry to make its gains.

Let's play devil's advocate for a minute and assume that the Conservatives are neither stupid (don't see the discrepancies) or are dangerously posturing (to their ignorant supporters). What else could motivate the Conservatives to create such a Bill then? From where I sit, if Bill C-6 passes, there is the high probability of the Bill being challenged in the Supreme Court. Between the discrepancies and the singling out of Muslim women, in Canada how could the Bill not be challenged?

Maybe the motivation behind the Bill is to have it go to the SCC. Let's speculate a little...

It's well known that the Conservatives have a dislike for the Supreme Court. Harper has done the whole 'activist judge' routine on several occasions and had a big showing right before he began forcing judges to be questioned by a panel prior to being appointed to the SCC. And the Conservatives did away with the Court Challenge program that aided citizens with bringing constitutional challenges before the SCC. We all know that he doesn't like to be questioned - not by his own party members, not by the opposition, not by the media and especially not by the SCC. He would like to rule and bring whatever laws into action that he sees fit. Unfortunately for Harper and the Conservatives, the Supreme Court, though they can't make law themselves, is essentially a check on any laws that are made through parliament. The SCC is like a natural defender of the Charter and Canadians against politicians that may try to make laws that go against our rights and freedoms. However, the judges are unelected and that seems to really get under many Conservatives skin.

So what does any of this have to do with Bill C-6? The Conservatives are arguing that the Bill strengthens the integrity of our electoral process (though in reality it does nothing of the sort). However, if Bill C-6 is argued to be in violation of our Charter through the SCC and the challenge is successful, it could give ammunition to the Conservatives to once again go on another anti-SCC tirade. They will paint the SCC and the judges as going against the will of elected officials and interfering with the democratic institution and process. It may turn out that all of this is an exercise to justify changing the way judges are appointed or altering the powers of the SCC. Though to do that involves reopening the Charter, which is also something the Conservatives desire. And once you open the Charter for one issue, you might as well begin examining other parts (the structure and purpose of the Senate or federal/provincial powers, etc.) of it as well.

I understand some will look at this speculation as pure downward spiral, crazy lefty-speak. I can see that to some degree myself, hence it being just random speculation. However, there is some merit to the idea since much of what Harper does has other motivations attached to it beyond what is seemingly on the surface. And it isn't like there hasn't been any talk of opening the Charter since the Conservatives took power. Then again, maybe the Conservatives are just pandering to the lowest common denominator of Canadians and/or are stupid.

Cautious Optimism With Wireless Auction Plan

For all the issues I have with the federal government and the crap they spew on a consistent basis, I'll give them some credit for their plan to create more competition in the cell phone market. The plan right now is to auction off 105 megahertz of new wireless spectrum with 65 megahertz open to all competitors but the last 40 only open to companies with 10% or less of the current Canadian market. The hope is that this will lead to greater competition in Canada's cell phone market and effectively bring prices down. Canada currently ranks 29th out of the 30 member OECD in current cell phone adoption.

Essentially, if this is the only way I can get my cell phone bill costs down then I'm all for seeing greater competition. My so-called $30 plan has effectively never been cheaper than $50. There were two months when I did pay the rate I signed on for: the two months I didn't use it because I was using a Blackberry for a job.

There is some indication this may work as Bell has recently announced lowering prices and offering competitive packages in regards to wireless data to compete with Rogers and their exclusive use of the Apple iPhone. As well, when independent companies like Clearnet (acquired by Telus) and Fido (now owned by Rogers) were kicking around, prices for cell phones were much less than they are now. My wife got her original cell phone from Clearnet in 1999 and still has the plan they offered then, which cannot be purchased anymore. In fact, Telus calls often to ask her about 'upgrading' to one of the many current Telus offerings. The problem is that they Telus has no current plan that is as competitive as my wife's original Clearnet plan. In other words, over the last eight years cell phone plans have been getting worse for customers while at the same time the number of cell phone providers shrunk. Greater competition may just work in the favour of consumers.

There are no guarantees though. For all we know the bulk of the 40 megahertz set aside for the smaller cellphone companies may get bought up by a company that has greater resources than is indicated by its share of the Canadian wireless market would indicate. Virgin, as an example, is such a company (interesting note: they currently piggy-back on Bell's systems). Virgin, though, could turn around make a huge investment and just be another giant in the already crowded oligarchy and essentially overcharge consumers along with the other big three. Or even a company such as Google, who has already expressed interest in the wireless business, could swoop down and join the other three.

Even in the event that several smaller companies are able to increase their own share or join the market, what would stop the big three (Bell, Telus and Rogers) from eventually buying them out? The 40 megahertz set aside will guarantee that some smaller company (or companies) will get to increase their own market share. But what will stop one of the big three from doing what has already been done (Rogers and Telus acquiring Fido and Clearnet, respectively)? While the big three may not be able to bid on the set aside amount, what is to stop them from buying it indirectly by acquiring the company or companies that are the successful bidders? There is already precedent in that regard.

While I would welcome a change and a lowering of my cell phone costs, I wait with cautious optimism. In other words, I'm not holding my breath that anything will be change any time soon. It's a nice theory that greater competition always leads to better choices and prices for consumers but there is also nothing stopping Canadians being subjected to just another giant cell phone company or one of current the ones from getting even bigger.

Post Script:
Though not appropriate for this post but another post entirely, I can't help wonder what the real motivation is for the Conservatives to put this spectrum auction on. While they claim it's about increasing our competition in the wireless market, one can't help to wonder this is just an easy cash grab at the expense of some of our home grown corporations and possibly Canadian jobs. Also, what is to become of the money that is raised through the auction? More meaningless and wasteful tax cuts?

Articles of Note:

Ottawa's wireless auction could cut cellphone rates - CTV
Ottawa opens up wireless industry to more competition - CBC
Lower cellphone rates ahead? - Toronto Star
Bell to offer unlimited wireless data - Toronto Star
Google Goes Wireless - BusinessWeek

November 23, 2007

Harper All Alone Let's Canada and the Confederation Down on Climate Change

I wanted to go on a tirade and make another example of Harper and his Conservatives letting the ball drop even further by being the lone stand out on a new climate change agreement within the Confederation. (Sorry, I should point out that Australia is also holding out but that will change by this time tomorrow when they have a new, and more enlightened, government elected.) However, instead I'm going to just link to my colleagues who have covered the topic extensively and quite well. The blogs range from the left to the right of the political spectrum but the theme is pretty much the same on this issue: Harper is essentially no longer showing signs of leadership, just pure ideological nonsense.

It's better to do something now, no matter how small, than deal with the bigger consequences later and are no longer able to act. Everyone is out excuses at this point, though Harper seems willing to tread over old ones.

Impolitical - John Baird's Canada: we're all talk and now an environmental international pariah
Vijay Sappani - Harper thinks ?outstanding? means ?standing out? !
Scott Tribe - Canada?s back? More like Canada?s a pariah.
Apply-Liberally - Harper to the Commonwealth
DeSmogBlog - Global warming is a problem for rich countries to solve, China says
The Galloping Beaver - A song for Stephen
Quito Maggi - Harper, the small man of the Commonwealth?
The Red Tory - Harper?s Canada: Alone & Uncool
Accidental Deliberations - Off Target
Cathie from Canada - Kyoto Lite?

Update: Book Bans at Catholic Boards

This morning's Toronto Star is reporting that the Dufferin-Peel Catholic school board has also decided to do a review of the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy by Philip Pullman. This follows on the heels of the Halton Catholic board and which I commented about yesterday. Hopefully this will only be a temporary issue and will become moot sooner than later.

As I talked about in my last post, banning these books, due to their theme, will likely end up doing the opposite of the intentions. It will draw more attention to the books by your own students and will raise questions about the security of your beliefs. Maybe not enough to bring down the Church but the effects will still be there.

Furthermore, with the Catholic boards being publicly funded and mandated under the government, there is absolutely no reason censorship of a book should be allowed. To quote a quote from the Toronto Star article,

"My firm belief is this, that as a parent you have the right to say that your child cannot read a book. But as a parent, you don't have the right to say nobody else's child can read that book."
And as part of a public education system, they should not be making arbitrary decisions that are an affront to the relevant mandates that are set before them.

During the last provincial election the Catholic school board was oddly quiet. This had a lot to do with the public debate about whether we should continue to fund only Catholic education or all religions or none, through public means. The sense I gathered was that people generally fell on the 'none' side. That gives a perspective to the Catholic system being generally silent. They didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to themselves. If these boards decide to ban the book and set a precedent for other Catholic boards, they will draw that unnecessary attention to themselves and I doubt public opinion will be in their favour.

November 22, 2007

Banning Books from Schools a Bad Idea

School board pulls ‘anti-God’ book

I can only hope that Halton's Catholic school board will make the right decision and reinstate Philip Pullman's trilogy back to into their school libraries. Banning a book because it is written by an atheist and has an 'anti-God' theme are poor reasons to remove access by students. Even in the context that all of the claims against Pullman and his 'His Dark Materials' series are true, organized religion and its people should not be censoring because something may challenge held views.

Censorship hasn't always worked in the past and probably won't work here. Banning the books bring greater attention to them but with that will also come greater curiousity. Greater curiousity often leads to the opposite result of what the ban was supposed to do. And unfortunately for the board or supporters of the ban, children are naturally curious and are likely to search out things that are 'taboo'. One only has to look at the results of abstinence-only sexual education where often students are more likely to have sex or sexual relations.(1) If you tell the kids it's bad, they will try to find out why. The same likely could be said for drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc.

Banning the book also begs the question: 'What are they (the Church, religious followers or in this case, a Catholic school board) so afraid of?' It's a question that needs to be asked because if a religion, philosophy, theory, opinion or whatever, will not stand up to its critics and the criticism directed at it, then it runs the risk of becoming meaningless and void of value. Even the big religions must be willing to stand up for themselves and defend their existence to hold any weight or substance, otherwise they will be nothing more words on paper and purely dogmatic thinking. This, ultimately, should be a concern for those who promote and lead their faiths. If their religion or beliefs become only dogma and refuse to address the critics, they will not only turn away potential believers but also alienate many current ones by having nothing of substance to offer.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I hope Halton's Catholic board makes the right decision and reinstates the books into their libraries. The books made their mark by not being anti-God or anti-religion but because they are good stories with many good messages contained in them that are not necessarily anti-anything. If a student has a question about the theme, teachers should be prepared to address it - openly and honestly. Create a dialogue about it because no real harm will come about from any faithful dialogue but is likely to come from censorship.

See Also:

I'm going to suggest a further reading of this discussion between Philip Pullman and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. Great insight from both men on the religious theme found in Pullman's books as well as enlightening on the topic of religion in general.

And at the risk of seeming pretentious I'm including a passage from J.S. Mill's On Liberty. It's completely relevant to the problem of censorship and it's also a guiding light in my own thinking.

First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.
Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any object is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.
Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.

November 18, 2007

Putting Children's Health First

It's about time that this ban was put in place.

With all the research pointing towards the health issues associated with second-hand smoke combined with parents' obligation to protect their children at all costs, this only makes sense. It's taken too long for any municipality to step up and do this, but late is better than never. Wolfville will hopefully become a starting point for bans across the country. Children shouldn't have to be subject to the addictions of their parents, especially when it has an adverse effect on their own health.

'Nuff said...

N.S. town could ban smoking in cars with minors - CTV
Wolfville mayor expects smoking bylaw to pass - CTV

November 17, 2007

Conservatives Poised to Lose Denial Allies

Harper set to lose major ally against Kyoto

It's no secret that Canada, under the Conservatives, have dropped the proverbial ball when it comes to climate change and environment legislation. Whether it's been proposing legislation for time table to create a time table or having the chair position for the Kyoto Agreement board while making arrangements to pull out of Kyoto or assigning two different ministers to run the environment portfolio and both turned out be useless. These are only the obvious items on the list of failures the Conservatives have created since taking the reigns.

Over the course of the next year things will only get more interesting for the Conservatives and their relationship with the environment. As the Globe and Mail article points out, both Australia and the U.S. are looking at regime changes and that means Canada and the Asia-Pacific Partnership are losing it's two most prominent allies with at least one going to over to Kyoto. This will leave Canada standing up for the environment, under the APPCDC banner, with the great bastion of green thinking, China.

If Australia does switch teams, which it is likely to do and the U.S. makes changes to their own policies, Canada will essentially be the lone developed country still trying to make anti-Kyoto noise and proposing legislation based around denials of climate change. It's bad enough that Harper was trying to brag about Canada's policies and signed on to the APPCDC because it was more in tune with the his position while at the same time a federal review rebuked the plan he was touting.

In just over a years time, Harper may be pushing this plan all by himself while the rest of the developed nations are trying to make a difference. The Conservatives will then be in real bind. How serious can these policies seem when all your credible allies jump ship? It's not like Canadians have been all that impressed with his attempts at looking green up until this point anyways. People seem to recognize the Conservatives have faired poorly on the environment and the changes in Australia and the U.S. will only go to confirm that even more. It's time real action is taken but somehow I doubt that will be likely and farce attempts at dealing with climate change will continue.

But hey, at least China will be on our side...

See Also:

November 06, 2007

Investigating Mulroney Ideal for Both Liberals and Conservatives

Allegedly, Brian Mulroney is a great con. Not only is being accused of scamming a crooked businessman but he is now being accused of getting away with scamming the government out of money. The Liberals have made this recent ‘turn of events’ their issue of the day and have asked the Conservatives to open (re-open?) an investigation into the entire matter. The Conservatives have replied by plugging their ears and pretending nothing has happened.

The ultimate question about the entire issue is this: Why would either side care?

In regards to the Conservatives, why would they care if Mulroney is investigated? Mulroney is a past Prime Minister of a party that was essentially put to pasture, there are no obvious connections to or influence over the current Conservative Party and Mulroney’s ‘legacy’ is pretty much lower than dirt. So why would Harper and his gang worry about the outcome of a review or investigation into Mulroney’s dealings?

If the Conservatives are truly serious about issues of justice and law and order – not only when the t.v. cameras are rolling – an investigation would be a strong way of showing their commitment. Otherwise, if the RCMP start one of their own or the opposition find a way to have one started and things go bad for Mulroney, you can believe that the Conservatives are going to be hammered on ‘protecting’ a criminal.

And that is exactly why the Liberals are pushing so hard for this to happen. When the Conservatives bucked at the idea of looking into the Mulroney issue, the Liberals saw an opening and decided to kick the door in and burst right in. The Mulroney issue provides several opportunities for the Liberals. One is that if Mulroney is found guilty after an investigation, the Conservatives will look like they were covering up for one of their own, though there is no hard connection at this point. And therefore the Conservatives will look like hypocrites on the law and order agenda.

Another opportunity is for Dion to change the channel in the news. It’s no secret that Dion has been blasted for his supposed poor and weak leadership, especially after him abstaining from the throne speech and economic update/mini-budget. Going after Mulroney and the subsequently the Conservatives will help take the pressure off of Dion by distracting people with the news.

Lastly, there is also the issue of the Conservatives having three of their own investigations against them. If any of these three come to fruition while the Conservatives are either denying the request for an investigation into Mulroney or around the time he’s found guilty, the Conservatives will be accused of having a historical and systemic problem of crime and being hypocrites.

It won’t matter that Mulroney did these things after being Prime Minister because it’s all about optics at that point. The skewed logic will go like this:
Mulroney is a criminal – Mulroney is a Conservative – the Conservatives broke the law = historic and systemic problems.
It may not be perfect logic but it will likely be enough for the media and the opposition to produce negative optics against the Conservatives.

At this point it seems strange that the Conservatives aren't willing to cave into the opposition's demands. I would think it would be better to rid yourself of the problem before it becomes your own or takes on a life of its own. However, since the Conservatives do not seem to be in the mood for entertaining opposition demands, the Liberals are doing the right thing by making this the issue of the day and keeping the interest alive.

November 02, 2007

Did Conservatives Shoot Messenger to Send a Message?

There is a lot of speculation as to why the Conservatives cut Mark Warner loose. Race, red Tory-ism, being replaced by a star candidate, etc. are just some of the reasons being thrown around. I doubt these played any real factor into the decision to boot Warner. Rather, it's probably because he went off message. Something that Garth Turner and Bill Casey both experienced before him. Something that isn't looked upon favourably, no matter how small the deviation may be.

While Turner and Casey went as far as actually criticizing their governments' decisions, Warner only tried to localize and adapt national policy to suit the concerns of his electorate. However, in Toronto, this means dealing with issues that do not coincide with the policies and ideology of the Conservative brass. Such an issue would likely lead to there being conflicts between the positions of the local candidate and central party and/or potentially having another Turner/Casey on their hands some point down the road. It may also create some confusion amongst their core support of social and (hard) fiscal conservatives.

This is an unfortunate state of affairs for the Conservative party. However, it is much more unfortunate for those members that believe in grass roots politics, individual contributions to the government and democracy. In other words, this has sent the message that if you're not acting like a 'yes man' there's no room for you in the Conservatives. We shouldn't be surprised with this latest turn of events though as this has been the prevailing rule for candidates since the 2006 election after so many spoke out during the 2004 election and played into the hands of their opponents.

Yet this definitely sends the wrong message. On one hand they are overly worried about their image, hence the reason they micromanage their members and attempt to control the message at every turn. While on the other, the optics of this situation (and other incidences) can create problems because it can and will be portrayed negatively as speculation begins to grow and causes rumblings among members. This is the conundrum the Conservatives find themselves in. The very message and image they are trying to preserve are being put at risk by ignoring the wishes of their members, punishing divergence and leaving speculation to the media and others.

I have an acquaintance who is a member of a Conservative association in Mississauga. During the recent Ontario election they were complaining about Tim Peterson essentially being acclaimed by John Tory. Their complaint was about the lack of regard for the members' preference of candidate (who wasn’t Peterson) and the inclusion of faith-based funding as a platform piece. They closed their musing with this shot at the feds: 'It's bad enough that we are already pissed about this type of control by Harper and his guys…' While this is only one more example tacked on to only a few other public cases (Casey, Warner, etc.), I wouldn't be surprised if this is becoming an issue for the Conservatives - that somewhere beneath the surface there is a growing chorus of disgruntled members. And this incident with Warner will only serve to stoke those members even further.

Possibly this is just about sending a message to those that are amongst the growing cracks. Not only will the Conservative brass punish disloyalty – ala Casey and Turner, they will squash any and all deviation. Maybe Warner’s case is an example of the bigwigs using an iron fist to put all detractors on notice and push back against any potential problems that are appearing. It’s a message of ‘either you’re with us or against us,’ with the thinking that many members will settle down and ultimately stay in line. In a recent discussion I had, ALW talked about how Harper is always looking ahead in terms of policy and governing, and also with the longevity of the Conservative Party. In regard to the latter, I’m not sure what the immediate effects will be but I am pretty sure this won’t help in the long term. A leader can only appease or push back against their detractors for so long. Eventually they’ll want answers and accountability. Ultimately, this action sends the wrong type of message to the members and the public and one that has the potential to disrupt the message that the central party actually desires.

November 01, 2007

In Search of Harmony

While skimming over the articles at G&M's website, I came across this article. It's a piece that argues in favour of Ontario harmonizing its provincial tax with the GST, similar to what the Maritime provinces already have in place.

The author, Derek DeCloet, bases his argument around the idea that harmonizing Ontario's sales tax with the GST while also providing a corporate tax cut will bring corporate rates down to approximately 16%-17%. This is in comparison to the 24% range that the corporate tax rate will be at if Ontario follows Flaherty's lead in providing a cut. DeCloet argues this will save a lot of money for many of Ontario's businesses that are struggling with the high dollar and many savings will be passed on to the consumers who are paying the 'high' tax rate through a hidden adjustment in the price of goods.

There is an issue with DeCloet's assumption though. You can never assume that the savings are going to be passed on to the consumer. One only has to look at the issue with the increase in the Canadian dollar. The savings were minimal at best and it took a lot of public and media pressure (Flaherty doesn't get any credit because most businesses were addressing public complaints prior to his 'look at me' moment) just to get there. That's not to say there aren't savings to be found but the impact isn't changing much since many Canadian shoppers, especially in Ontario, are still making trips across the border. To assume that a company is going to automatically pass savings on to customers is not an assumption based in reality. Look at the some of the big banks in Canada. Over the last decade the Royal Bank and CIBC were making record profits but still found ways to charge more for services, create new charges and slash jobs. Now they're making even more money. That brings up some serious questions.

Also, there is the issue of Ottawa playing nice with Ontario. It's no secret that Ontario, relative to other provinces, is getting the shaft when it comes to funding. The provincial government and even many Ontarians aren't getting equal treatment when it comes to things such as immigration funding, EI and health care funding. Ontario is contributing a disproportionately high amount of funding to Ottawa in respect to what it gets in return versus other provinces. Harmonizing our tax system with Ottawa again makes the assumption that everything will run smoothly and we'll get all our money back. I do understand that harmonization would work differently from other revenue sharing programs but the with provincial-federal relationship being as fragile as it is, it's probably in our interest to retain control over our own revenues for the time being.

And control has a lot to do with it as well. While Ontario's PST is generally set at 8%, the level actually varies depending on the item being purchased. Notably, there is no tax on children's clothing or books and on food purchases under $4. On the other hand the PST rate on alcohol is 10% and ticketed entertainment is set at 12%. Harmonizing our sales tax with the GST would take away a lot of that flexibility, especially in regards to those items that are exempt for the purpose of assisting people that rely on any savings they can get.

By no means would I consider myself an economist or even up to par on the latest theories. I do understand that the general idea for economists is about creating wealth and harmonizing the sales taxes would help in that regard. However, there is more that goes into a decision than just theory. Common sense and reality have to be taken into account as well and on those concepts, I'm not sold on the idea of harmonizing as of yet.

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)

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