G20. So sorry you're gone.

The end of the G8/G20 clustersummit may be a good time for a little overview of the record of the Harper Party. Some critics have whined that they’re too cheap to fund community events. Clearly wrong. They backed Police Pride Week to the hilt; in fact it probably couldn’t have been held without the very generous level of federal funding it received. And it isn’t true that Conservatives are indifferent to the arts. They obviously love Security Theatre. Which, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, really is a spectacle: the packs of cops on bikes, the dozens detailed to guard street corners and the columns of fully equipped riot police would impress anybody. It’s just too bad that the view was reserved for Torontonians only and that this couldn’t have been done in every city and town in this great country. But maybe one day it will.

Some people say that the Tories hate Toronto. But then why would they attract world leaders here, to show them the Harbour Castle Westin and our wonderful Convention Centre, as well as to put on such a great show for all the local folks? Who loved it by the way; they were out with their cell phone cameras recording every minute. And this for a community which never votes Tory. So much for the canard that the Conservatives are a partisan mob who only reward their supporters.

Now there are those who say that these summits don’t accomplish anything, but this also misses the mark. The G20 accomplished a lot: it addressed our smog problem by shutting down the city for the better part of a week, it made people get out and get some exercise by closing the transit system on Saturday, it gave them a chance to save instead of foolishly running up more credit card debt in bars and restaurants, and it implemented a “shovel-ready” stimulus package for local glaziers. AND . . . And it produced a final communique urging all member nations to stabilize their debt-to-GDP by 2016, just 6 short years from now. Which they absolutely will do. Unless they don’t.

And so on to South Korea, the next victim … er, deserving recipient of this great honour, where in just 6 months the leaders will be able to revise the definitive long-term course they just agreed to. Wonderful. (And as a final tip, there’s a view that Korean riot police play pretty hard, so some of the Black Bloc might want to give a thought to not reboarding at the rest stop in Hawaii and maybe spending the weekend surfing instead. . .)

Electricity Without Subsidies?

Increasingly, the question must be asked whether or not electricity generation can occur without direct or indirect government subsidies and loans. If the answer is no, then to what extent should the government be involved in the process and should it be allowed to 'play favourites' when it comes to supporting groups pursuing electricity generation.There needs to be a clear difference made

Australian PM Steps Down

Kim Campell, err... I mean Julia Gillard has been appointed Prime Minister after Brian Mulron... I mean, Kevin Rudd stepped down. The reason seems to surround the climate change policies that Rudd advocated, and then back-tracked on, but as all things, is likely a combination of a large number of things. In any case, it will be interesting to see if Gillard's term is short lived.

Helium-3 Supplies Running Low

Who cares?Most people reading the title probably thought exactly that.Helium? And what's that three mean? And so what if we're running out of it? Bear with me and I'll try to change your mind.Helium-3 is an uncommon isotope of Helium that has two protons and a single neutron. It occurs naturally and can be produced through the beta decay of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen with three protons.

Iron fist

Downtown Toronto is now cop heaven. Twenty five of them standing on the not very wide northwest corner of Wellington and Bay at 9 p.m. With reinforcements at the ready on the southwest corner in case anything happens. Cops in cars, on foot, packs of them on bikes and down at Harbourfront a couple of behelmed security doughboys rolling at a sedate 3 mph on their ATVs, looking like RoboCop meets LawnBoy. Security fences around hotels and running the length of blocks around the bank towers. This is presumably what the Gaza Strip looks like, with the difference that this nonsense is all sanctioned and not censured, by the international community.

Anyone who doesn’t feel at least a twinge of distaste at the sight of a security perimeter is probably not a democrat at heart. It might be an overstatement to call law enforcement a necessary evil, but it’s at least a necessary something-not-so-good. Which means unnecessary security is objectionable. And that is exactly what the G20 lockdown is. It’s the state flexing its metallic muscles to no purpose whatever, except possibly to provoke the leftist rabble. If the lefties do get wound up at the sight of this steroidal display, well, it’s hard to blame them. In fact, maybe it's time for a libertarian wing of the International Order of Street Chaotists; they could have a black flag with Milton Friedman in silhouette.

And the cost. $1 billion for this celebration of the coercive power of the state. Add in the economic loss from shutting down the core of Canada’s biggest city for a week (offset by the positive value of a G20 gabfest, that is, zero). The Harper government levered itself into power in 2006 in part on account of the Sponsorship Scandal, which involved about the loss of $100m of public money; the summit is wasting more than this by an order of magnitude.

Canada should never hold an event like this again. Even better would be to stop attending them and just drop out of the G8 and G20. It wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference to anyone, except for Harper and Flaherty not getting their picture taken with a bunch of other organization men and that the hapless Canadian taxpayer would save a few bucks.

The Art of Deflection

So, Obama is seeking some big deal on alternative energies as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Trying to link the two issues is akin to proposing to repair the roof when your basement is flooding. Sure, maybe your roof needs fixing, but shouldn't one focus on the leak in your basement?The US' problem is that their oil dependence is forcing them to ally with less than reliable

Media Goes Nuclear

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the endless fear mongering about nuclear power plants. In some sense, its understandable that in the aftermath of the oil spill disaster in the gulf, people are more and more skeptical of safety claims of so-called 'experts' and people who work for certain industries.But sometimes, the media blows minor issues far out of proportion.Reading the Japanese

The Real Costs of Electricity Rates

If your electricity rates were to double, the effect it would have on your monthly bills wouldn't mean more than a few hundred dollars a year most likely. To be sure, that might crush those living beneath the poverty line and those living paycheque to paycheque, but for the middle and upper class, just a mild inconvenience. But rising electricity rates don't just affect your monthly electricity