Jennifer Ditchburn in search of unhappy Conservatives.

Jennifer Ditchburn is no fan of the Conservatives, as anyone who has ever read her stuff is keenly aware, and today is no exception as she finds a couple of unhappy Quebec Conservatives and writes about their disillusionment and uses the opportunity to again bring up the issue of weighing ridings for leadership votes, which will be brought up at the convention along with dozens of other proposals.

Anything that works negatively to the conservatives I guess.

BTW I always thought that candidates and their campaigns were responsible for their own signage. (Can you imagine what Elections Canada would do if the Party actually purchased and distributed the signs!)

Here is some more on Jennifer from this blog, and some from BC Blue including her big breaking story on Helena Guergis and the town playboy.

Is Jack Layton's NDP the New Bloc?

 Maybe!  Along with Jack Layton's NDP's big gains a month ago in the general election, mostly from Quebec, comes more attention and scrutiny as it should be. To the media's credit they're starting to pay attention.

 Tasha Kheiriddin from the National Post - Jack Layton is between a Bloc and a hard place.
Jack Layton may be nimble, but even he is not proving quick enough to escape the nationalist tarpit which has trapped many a federal politician before him.
Don Macpherson, from The Montreal Gazette- Layton is raising unrealistic expectations among Quebecers  and is still making promises.
Because the leader of the New Democratic Party continues to make promises to French-speaking Quebecers.
And in the process, he is raising unrealistic expectations among them that a national party that aspires to govern can act as a New Bloc Québécois, placing their interests ahead of those of other Canadians.

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton and his party are playing with fire on the Quebec sovereignty issue.
They’ve been playing that dangerous game for a while, too. The irony, of course, is that the controversy that’s now blown up in their faces was inevitable as soon as they achieved a longtime party goal — political success in la belle province.
Even the Globe and Mails Lawrence Martin is weighing in.-Are the NDP more Bloc than the Bloc?
With the demolition of the Bloc Québécois, election day was supposed to be a nice day for federalism.
But that prognosis is already in doubt. After years on the margins of the national discussion, Quebec nationalism is moving to the forefront.
Its new primacy of place is assured by an Official Opposition, the New Democratic Party, that is hostage to many of the interests of Quebec autonomists. With 59 seats, most from former Bloquiste territory, the New Democrats have little choice but to sing their song, minus the ultimate goal of separation.
It seems as if Jack has bitten off a little more than he can chew. Seeing that most of the MSM are starting to ask questions. This issue is not going go away and will not be an easy four years for Jack especially with his the kids in his caucus.

The good news keeps coming!

Chrysler has repaid their 1.7 Billion in loans received from the governments of Canada and Ontario.

StatsCan: The Canadian economy expanded 3.9% in the first quarter of 2011.

Some action on the Senate.

And the House has yet to sit for even one day of Parl41.

Much more to come.

The end of the long gun registry.The end of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly. The end of party subsidies...

PM Harper Doing Us Proud

Some common sense is starting to make a comeback in this country.

First the budget that is due to be tabled June 6 will include the phasing out of the voter subsidies to political parties.

Plans are being made to end the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly.

A bill will be introduced in June first through the Senate for senate reform that would allow for elections and set term limits.

PM Harper at the G8 summit in France resisted offering direct aid to Egypt and Tunisia instead Canada’s backing would come through its existing support of multilateral financial institutions.

He also stood firm with Israel in insisting the final document coming out of the G8 not mention the 1967 borders as starting point for peace.

PM Harper also confirmed we're not going take part in the next round of the Kyoto protocol talks later this year along with Russia,and Japan.

It's a good start and  is  good news for Canada if you're a common sense conservative.  Not so much if you're a lefty.  Heads must be exploding!

I hope to see more of this kind of stuff come out of this government over their four year term.  How about doing something about the CBC and the CHRC next?  That would really put icing on the cake!

Can Conrad Black ever not write.

Regarding his Lordship’s latest fulminations in the National Post on Saturday (A world of financial ruin), has nobody noticed just how bad this dude is at writing? While Black’s prose is known for its overuse of Latinate words and generally bombastic tone, its outstanding feature is really just how plain bad it is.

So, starting at the top:
The present U.S. administration, building, certainly on unpromising leavings from its predecessor, has shuffled from one delayed reaction placebo to another to anesthetize financial markets with a sequence of consciousness-lowering deferrals. First we were waiting for the Simpson-Bowles debt commission, which held any actual attention to the problem at bay for nearly two years. It reported quite sensibly and sank like lead weight, but without a ripple. The administration’s budget proposed a dynamic eventual freeze on 15% of federal government expenses, a solution that underwhelmed almost everyone.
Apart from this being the usual vortex of orotundity: there is a missing comma after “certainly,” which probably ought to be “admittedly;” “unpromising leavings from its predecessor” is clumsy; “building” on “leavings” is a bad mixed metaphor; “delayed reaction” is missing a hyphen (although maybe that can be excused as the hyphen sadly does seem to be on the way out); “held attention to the problem at bay” is clunky; “reported quite sensibly” is an error – the matter of interest is the content of the report and whether or not it was sensible, not the manner of reporting; and “a dynamic eventual freeze” is both awkward and contradictory – what is a dynamic freeze supposed to be?

The world’s reserve currency, the fabled vehicle of the “faith and credit of the United States,” is now virtual money — a symbol for all the other massive problems afflicting the U.S. economy. The imported share of America’s oil consumption, for instance, has gone from 20% to 60%. Large suppliers like Iran and Venezuela have become hostile countries. Yet Americans remain neurotic about paying half the gas price of other oil-importing countries.
The expression is “the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.” “[S]ymbol for” should be “symbol of.” When quoting changes the time scale is usually included unless it is obvious: when did imported oil make up 20% of America’s consumption – 1960, 1970, 1980? “[H]ostile countries” should just read “hostile;” otherwise the sentence implies that Iran and Venezuela changed from suppliers into countries; but they were always countries.

Unless the United States has the most spectacular cognitive awakening since Brunhilda, if not Lazarus, the laws of arithmetic are going to assert themselves in Zeus-like terms.

Meanwhile, the European Union is a water-logged vessel in a tempest, frantically bailing. In the six weeks since French finance minister Christine Lagarde last bravely proclaimed her personal fantasy that Greece would not default, the interest on Greek government notes has risen from 20% to 26%. Germany will not indefinitely remain so encumbered with guilt for the Third Reich that it will go on eating the costs of the false prospectus Goldman Sachs assisted Greece and others to file when they joined the Euro.

Brunhilda didn't have a “cognitive awakening;” she just woke up. Vessels don’t bail, frantically or otherwise; the crew does that. The laws of arithmetic asserting themselves in Zeus-like terms is another addled mixed metaphor; laws are not animate and so don’t assert themselves; Greece didn’t make a joint application apply with “others” to join the Eurozone – so it should either be “prospectuses” or just Greece. Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking.

Next is:
The EU is in hot contention with the United States as the Sick Man of the Great World Economic Powers, because less than 40% of Eurozone citizens work and over 60% are on benefits of some sort. But not to be discounted in this gripping Olympic contest for total fiscal immolation is geriatric, debt-ridden, stagnating Japan, a great but terribly beleaguered and demoralized country.
Sick men in hot contention; that’s a good one. “[T]he Great World Economic Powers” should use either “Great” or “World” but not both. The second sentence lays on the superlatives with the proverbial trowel, the bad writer’s favourite implement.

It is on a slow and perhaps shallow rebound from New Labour, whose only novelty was that it took them three terms rather than only the one required by Attlee and Wilson to bring the country to the brink of ruin, speaks English, has a good legal system and has been one of the most respected nationalities in the world without interruption since the rise of the nation state approximately 700 years ago.
The “It” here is the U.K. Skipping the first clause this reduces to “It . . . speaks English . . .” which is wrong, as countries don’t speak, people do; and while the point is sometimes made in discussions of globalization comparing India and China that the former has a large population of English speakers, we don’t really need to be told that this is also true of England.

Absent the first clause the preceding reads: “It . . . speaks English, has a good legal system and has been one of the most respected nationalities in the world without interruption since the rise of the nation state approximately 700 years ago.” A pretty good imitation of Grade 9 essay style.

When Britain can’t lead as it often has, as recently as with Thatcher in the ’80s, it still muddles through.
This means to say that Thatcher was an example of old-time leadership, not of muddling through; but a reader who didn’t know Conrad’s political biases would have a hard time figuring this out as it isn’t clear from the sentence itself.

And there is much more of the same. Anybody who wants to can download the column and redpen it up themselves, for an hour of harmless fun.

Of course, it could be objected that this is all nit-picking, but when you’re at the point where you can’t even see the body for all the lice it’s an issue. Writing a newspaper op-ed isn’t just about making your point; it’s also about presentation, in the same way that you don’t go to a job interview in your underwear, even if you do have solid skills and a good resume.

Amazingly, Conrad Black has managed to maintain a reputation as some kind of prose stylist (even after the duncical titling of his biography of Nixon as “The Invincible Quest”) when, stylistically, he is really the naked Emperor of Canadian journalism.

Tim Hudak scores on his own net

This week Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak announced that if the Conservatives are elected they will institute a policy requiring inmates in provincial prisons to perform 40 hours/week of manual labour:
"I just think it's the right thing to do," Hudak said Thursday. "It's time for inmates to give back to society."

The mandatory labour would include picking up garbage, cleaning graffiti and raking leaves and inmates who refuse to do it would be denied television, card games or other perks, Hudak said.

"A PC government would end the practice of letting convicted prisoners spend their time watching TV or playing cards. We will make work programs mandatory," Hudak said. "I'm not asking prisoners to do anything more than what hard-working Ontario families do everyday — and that is go to work."
I think this is a colossal mistake. Hudak has just handed Dalton McGuinty a club to beat him with in much the same way that John Tory flubbed the religious schools issue in the last provincial election.

Liberals love to portray Conservatives as heartless monsters who would put orphans and pregnant welfare mothers to work in sweatshops to earn their keep, and Hudak has just reinforced this stereotype. It makes him look like Ebenezer Scrooge - prepare yourself for commercials this fall with pictures of Hudak and a voice-over of Alistair Sim muttering "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"
Details on whether inmates would be manacled together to prevent escape have yet to be worked out, [Hudak] said.
Is he serious? Are the Conservatives really prepared for Ontario citizens to drive past manacled prisoners in chain gangs picking up trash along the 401 under signs that proudly proclaim "Working for a Better Ontario - Tim Hudak, Premier" while sanctimonious Dalton McGuinty solemnly intones "this is not the compassionate Ontario I believe in"?

Is there really public clamour to make life in prisons harsher for inmates, even among the so-called Conservative base? Was it really necessary for Hudak to look tougher on crime by tightening the screws on people already in jail?

The only thing missing is for Hudak to defend his policy by donning mirrored sunglasses and saying "what we have here is a failure to communicate" while tapping a billy club ominously. Be prepared for that public service message from the Liberals in the fall.

Why Are We Funding Anti-Israel,Pro-Palestinian So Called Charities?

Sun Media has a story out stating that our tax dollars are going to a so called charity group that is really an anti-Israel activist group. Alternatives Canada based out of Montreal, is taking part in a flotilla that will try to run the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza with other left wing radical groups later this spring.
Radicals from this country are organizing to take part in a flotilla that will try to run the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. A boat from this country is expected to be part of that flotilla in June and one of the main groups involved gets millions of your tax dollars.
 As Lilley states in his column, that  Alternatives Canada are not what they seem much like KAIROS that Minister Bev Oda judiciously cut funding on. . It's an activist group and has received $5 million of our money from the CIDA for the last five years.
The Montreal-based Alternatives, which has received $5 million from the federal government over the last few years, is not what most people think of when they think of an aid group. They don’t feed the hungry or clothe the naked. They are political organizers.

From NGO Monitor,an organization that keeps NGOs accountable says this about Alternatives Canada,
  • Engages in a wide variety of highly unbalanced and politicized activities both within Canada and abroad. Outside Canada, the NGO has partnerships and funded projects, including projects based in the Palestinian Territories.
  • Domestic advocacy is unceasingly critical of Israel even as it downplays Palestinian human rights abuses and ignores Palestinian terrorism.

    Lilley gave a good synopsis on his show,Byline last night. It's worth watching.Eric Duhaime gives insight to what they're really up to.   Minister Oda did the right thing in defunding KAIROS. Now she can take the axe to radical left wing groups like  Alternatives Canada and other's who may not be what they seem.

    Related: PM Harper blocks mention of 1967 border in G8 Mideast statement -Globe
                  Canada objects to mention of 1967 borders in G8 statement-National Post
                  Canada takes strong pro-Israel line at G8 summit- MSNBC

    His support for Israel never waivers and it's nice to see his influence on the international stage!  Makes me proud to be Canadian.

    Get to work, jackass

    Toronto city councillor, John Filion, has quit the committee he was appointed to back in December -- having never attended one of its meetings.Let me remind you Mr. Filion --- you have a JOB as a city councillor. With all jobs, there are obligations to the employer. You do have an employer. US. You serve us by sitting on whichever committee you're assigned to because if you don't --- you aren't

    Like something out of Mean Girls

    ... only a pair of Vice Principals are pulling the dirty trick.*** Again, this is personal, not political*** This is an update for anyone who read about my daughter not being allowed to go to her class's prom.Mia is normally complacent. She doesn't like confrontation and after my conversation with the female vice-principal, I thought she was ready to take *no* for an answer. Then she came to me

    The Bag Lady

    Okay, so today my boss went to our local supermarket and got quite a shock. There was a new cashier on that she had never seen before. She was around age 40, my boss noted, because she was checking out the woman's various facial piercings. My boss totally dislikes all tattoos and body piercings, so she was paying attention to all that and then blind-sided by what happened next.

    Keep in mind that this was a higher-end supermarket, not a cheap-o discount one. This place does not charge for its plastic shopping bags, just suggests via signs that people can pick up the 'enviro friendly' (ha what a joke) bags. So my boss was buying several heavy cans and two jugs of milk, and asked the cashier to please double-bag them.

    The woman refused. She said it's not environmentally friendly and carried on packing. My boss was rather floored. She saw that the woman had put ALL the cans into one bag, so she asked again to please double-bag that because the plastic is so thin, there's no way it will hold. The cashier again said that it was 'not good for the environment' and carried on. My boss was stunned. She is a very friendly nice woman who hates to cause trouble (aka a wimp lol), so she didnt say anything.... but then the woman got to her milk and my boss asked her to double bag those as well. By this time my boss somehow thought the woman WAS actually double-bagging, assuming that she was making a tsk-tsk comment (still unprofessional, but whatever).... and paid the bill and left. At this store they still pack your cart for you too. It wasnt until she reached her car that she realized NONE of the stuff was double bagged.

    And sure as sh*t, when she got home and grabbed the bag of cans, it ripped to shreds and sent cans rolling down her driveway and into the nice mudpuddle at the bottom. Yeah, she could have been more careful, but that's not the point. Those thin bags rip on me all the time if I forget my own bags, or they have a *gasp* cardboard box in there that slices through. But the point is that the cashier outright refused to follow a customer's request based on her own idealogy.

    Boy I can't WAIT to go in there next time and see if that woman is there cos I will go to her till and request double bags and see what happens. My boss should have complained, asked to speak to a manager, pack up her stuff and go to another til, and/or phoned the store when she got home. She didnt because as I said, she hates to cause trouble, but that is her choice. My choice would be different.

    What the hell is going on with people these days? That woman is paid to do her job, not tut-tut people for using plastic bags. If she doesnt like it, why is she even there? I would love to know if she does it to others and then gets the riot-act read to her. She should go work at a place that charges for bags, or does not offer plastic at all, if that's what she believes. I wish I could call about this myself, but I am just an ear. I was not there and didnt see it, but I believe my boss. She has never told a story like that before and still seemed stunned when she came back to work.

    Give Them An Inch...

    You know that old saying - give them an inch, and they'll take a mile.

    This always bodes true with the topic I covered in my last post (and several others), concerning the idea of Universal Daycare programming in Canada.

    We had a lengthy chat about the idea at work today and the completely agreed idea between all staff members was that while it sounds like it would be a good idea for families who are struggling, they really have no idea what it could really mean to the whole system.

    We started off discussing the fact that many families, especially ones in the lower end of the 'middle income' bracket, were having a hard time because the cost of childcare can take a huge chunk from their earnings and make it a continual struggle. For example, I work part time but the amount of hours my son attends the center each month hovers right around the 100 hour mark, which is considered full time. I bring home about $1000 to $1300 a month after deductions each month, but a full time space is $640. It seems ridiculous for me to work 21 days a month and only have $400 to $700 left after paying daycare. It is a constant struggle and I go through this every month just like everyone else.

    But I see both sides of the coin, which is an uncommon perspective and I think it gives me a much greater understanding of how everything works. All talk of 'tax payers dollars' aside, this is what we discussed further: the after effects of accepting 'govt funding'....

    About 6 years ago, Alberta started a program for Accreditation of daycares and registered dayhomes. In order to receive the Staff Wage Enhancement funding and other such funding goodies (like Program Funding, Technological Funding, etc), a center now needed to be Accredited. It was a choice - but at the same time, a campaign was started across the province to guide parents into looking for 'Accredited' centers.

    What is accreditation? It's something above and beyond the regular, basic requirements for daycares and dayhomes. You pick some goals to achieve each year (which might be updating daycare furniture, buying more preschool toys and games, etc) and then prove that you have done this the following year. There is more to it than that - the first year and then every 3 years after that, 'Validation Experts' visit each center to check on everything and see if the proof is really there, blah blah blah. This is on top of and separate from the regular inspections that each center has each year from the Daycare Licensing Expert, Health Inspector, Fire Inspector, etc. This is to get centers and dayhomes to work 'beyond' the basic requirements.

    Okay so we agreed to do it because it seemed like if we didn't, we would 'look bad'. "Oh - your center is not accredited? Well I won't have my child going to a place like THAT!". We worried it would effect our business AND that it could become something that turned into a requirement in the future, rather than a 'choice'. So we did it, ended up as one of the first 150 centers in the province to achieve it, and we are just into our 5th year now. Yay us, right?

    Um... not always. It seemed like every time we improved or achieved a goal, they would just want more. For example - we used to have lots of cute little pictures up on the walls that we purchased in those typical school packs but they were like drawings, cartoony type pictures. For accreditation, we were told that it should be REAL photos of children, to help them 'relate' more. So down came our cartoons and we went around for the next year finding photograph-style posters. Yay us.

    Oh - not quite. Next year, we were told that we did not have enough cultures represented in our photographs. So for our next goal, we made up all sorts of posters, theme walls, etc showing as many different cultures as we could possibly fit. We also bought more multicultural toys, books, instruments, costumes, dolls, etc. We bought display cases for those cute collectable dolls showcasing, again, as many cultures as we could fit on the 12 shelves. Yay us!

    Oh - not quite. Next year, we were told that we didnt have enough 'differing abilities' shown on our walls, toys and books. So yes - off we went finding more. Pictures of children with seeing eye dogs, wheel chairs, leg braces, etc. Those went up on the walls too (with the added challenge of representing many cultures as well within THOSE specialized photos). We got out our books and toys to show that indeed we DID actually have things for differing abilities that the inspector had overlooked (and not asked for, only adding to the final report that we did NOT have them).....

    So there we sat with umpteen zillion photos covering every piece of wall space. It was cluttered and made all the rooms look 10 times smaller. But yay us.

    Oh - not quite. Next year, we were told that we did not have enough artwork done by the children showcased. Oh really? Well where the hell are we going to put it????? We were told that we should have more photos of the current children on the walls (we did this every year for the past lord-only-knows how long, but had run out of room with the new additions so were reduced to two story boards of our kids' photos)....

    Now we are one year away from our next official site visit and you know what we did? We took it ALL down. Everything. All of the photos of various cultures, abilities, 'real' photos, are gone. We were repainting the daycare as another goal and decided that we were not going to put it all back up. Now we are back to nice clean walls with children's artwork displayed in appropriate places, and cute fun cartoony type things on the wall but NOT people/children. Only fun little animals, book-reading monsters in story corner, etc. We put everything else into little books and binders that are available for the children to peruse whenever they like. Small photos put onto jump-rings to make them into flip books. And we feel SO much better. It's not so claustrophobic in there now.

    But we have to admit, we are a bit concerned about the visit next year. Will they notice? Will they complain? The way we see it, if we take it all down, they don't see all the different multi-levels to one-up us with every year. We are supposed to be concentrating on helping these young kiddos be ready for school, have a safe place to play and learn while their parents are at work, and help them with any of their difficulties. Why should we be freaking out about not having enough of whatever it is the inspectors decide we should have. It's nowhere in the regulations and I think we go above and beyond those basic regulations every single day as it is. Small center, more staff than required, extremely long-term reliable staff in fact, and a family atmosphere where every parent knows every staff member on site and vice versa. Is our center 'bad' or 'sub-par' because the walls are not buried under hundreds of photos from around the world? Is it below-standard because we like to have nice bright cheery walls that make the space appear even larger, and an easy focus on the kids' own work on the bulletin boards? It was like sensory overload in there for the past 5 years. It feels refreshing and light now.

    So we shall see what happens. In the meantime, we spent almost a grand on new chairs and a new table, put in new carpets that are softer, bought a honking huge new train table, got cool coloured sand for the indoor tables, bought new science kits and magnet sets, we have books completely up the wazoo because we are addicted to Scholastic. And the three story gorgeous new play house for 12 inch figures (cant call it a Barbie house cos that's sexist, or something, even though all the kids and parents call it that lol).... we've bought new outdoor equipment, entirely new kitchen center sets, and so on - but all of that got ignored over the years because of the focus that was on our walls.

    If we do not pass accreditation, we lose a lot of funding including the staff wage enhancement. Some might say 'oh well, too bad, it's tax payer dollars anyway'. Yes it is and I agree, but this is where the govt gets you over a barrel with enticing little games of funding and benefits - take it away and we either have to all take a pay cut that puts us dangerously close to minimum wage after being there 10 years each, or we have to increase the parent's monthly fee, which hurts their finances. Ouch. It SUCKS and I wish we had never gotten involved in the first place, but we felt forced. There are booklets out and about for parents detailing how accredited centers are so great, entire walls at parent groups detailing it, and we now get phone calls from parents asking if we are accredited.

    Guess what? We are the same center with the same staff, in the same building, always purchasing improvements whenever money is available, the same in every way as we were BEFORE there was such a thing as accreditation - but parents are taught now to shy away from 'those unaccredited centers'. So here we are, and we are stuck. But we learned something - if the govt gives you money, they take more control with every dollar chucked your way.

    The consensus at work today during this discussion was absolutely completely that if a govt gets in one day that pushes Universal Daycare, we will close. One staff member said "I am GONE" before the question was fully asked. We have lived first hand what can happen as more and more funding is promised and we felt like we were under a microscope for all the wrong reasons that whole time.... My question was "If we are feeling unreasonable pressure from what little amount of funding we get TODAY, what will happen if the govt is giving us over 90% of our monthly income?". And my coworker said "I am GONE" about 2 seconds before the director said "I will have to close my doors".

    That is pretty darn sad.

    NDP spin on new MPJean-Francois Larose's resume. #Fail

    More resume problems for the NDP and their pathetic attempt to spin their way out of it.*

    This past Friday QMI learned that the new NDP MP for a federal riding north of Montreal does not have a degree from the University of Montreal, contrary to what his official electoral biography stated. This after another similiar resume incident with their most famous MP, Ruth Ellen Brosseau.

    Like with Brosseau, the NDP spin on Lerose was that it was a staffers error: On Brosseau the story was that a staffer had "inadvertently" changed the wording, embellishing her resumé. On Lerose we hear of a similar tale using similar words describing how a NDP staffer (now gone)  had made an "inadvertent change" to Lerose's resume posted on the party’s website.

    Only with Brosseau the spin was at least plausible, staffers do make mistakes and there is really no reason not to take the NDP's word for what happened, but with Larose the NDP spin is so ridiculous that it insults the intelligence because this is not the first time that this has "inadvertently" happened. "The false credentials were also posted about Larose on the La Presse newspaper website when he ran for in the Montreal municipal election in 2009." So unless that very same NDP staffer wrote the bio in 2009 and again in 2011, I have some serious doubts that it was their fault in the least.

    BTW what happened to that staffer? The NDP claim that they no longer work for the NDP but why is that?
    Were they fired? Did they resign? Were the pushed to resign? We don't know and so far the media couldn't seem to care less about the NDP lying to them or about what happened to the staffer that the NDP claim was responsible. ( anyone remember certain MSM types mocking the CPC when they blamed a staffer for anything?)

    HT BC Blue.

    Related: More spin, also total BS that the media bought, from the NDP and Jack Layton's infamous shove to get some camera time for himself.

    *Which appears to have worked because judging from the lack of questions and coverage, our MSM seems to have swallowed the BS spin from the NDP. 

    Another #fail from Canada's political journalists.


    Yes that is me saying a very very bad word. Several of them actually. I have to vent here because I have been unable to sleep for so many nights now, I thought perhaps complaining in here might help relieve my brain a little bit more.

    I am SO sick of all the changes in various govt programs and having to wade through the mire while trying to get things done. This particular issue centers around getting my oldest son's passport renewal. This is something that I have done 3 times now (including his first one) and had NO problems in the past (as in, received on time, etc) but now things are going haywire and I think I'm about to end up with an ulcer and a hernia from the stress and anxiety and FRUSTRATION.

    You see, my son was born in England while I was living there for a couple of years. I moved back to Canada with him when he was 9 months old and he has been here ever since. I have run into slight issues in the past when traveling with him overseas to visit his father because the initial customs folk would see my Canadian passport and his British one and then request uber amounts of documents proving that I am allowed to bring him into the country. That's fine, I always carry them with me when traveling anyway (notarized letters, divorce and custody papers, etc). They always send me to the longggg customs line up and when I finally get to the desk, that official always sends us through immediately because I am Canadian and by extension, so is my son.

    I have had conflicting information over the years from various Customs and Immigration officials (oh gee - surprised? A govt organization giving out completely conflicting info? NO! That cannot be!! lol)... going from one saying that Canada does not allow Dual Citizenship with ANY country and I would have to formally recind his british citizenship before being to apply for Canadian on his behalf - even though at that exact moment I was staring at a webpage on the official Immigration website that listed dozens of countries under a heading saying Allows Dual Citizenship With..... lol.

    Then I have been told that I do not have to worry about any of that, just to make sure I have other documents like my birth certificate, his birth certificate, etc while traveling.... Then I have been told that he has to be listed as a Permanent Resident and have a special card... then I have been told that he is NOT a 'Permanent Resident, he is considered Canadian due to my birthplace as well as him being naturalized for the past 13 years straight'. blah blah.

    Basically a total nightmare so I have always just kept his British passport as his main form of travel ID. I would send off to the British High Commission in Ottawa for the renewal every 5 years and all was well.

    Until now. Sometime since 2006, the UK decided to 'streamline' it's passport application system and now everyone outside of Britian has to send their application to the British Embassy in Washington DC. Now begins my nightmare.

    A renewal is only supposed to take 4 weeks. They received the application on March 11 and it is still 'in processing'. I waited past the suggested time of 20 working days past the application's received date before phoning - only to find that the ONLY numbers you can call are premium rate and done by a company IN the united kingdom, and cost $3 per minute.

    Yes.... I call the number and am ON HOLD for over 20 minutes before speaking to a human. The call cost me $60 before I even got started. This is very distressing to me. I already forked out $152 for the application (almost 4 times the cost of a Canadian Child Passport), $25 for the courier fee, and now I am forking out well over a hundred dollars so far for phone calls that are not getting me anywhere.

    I have been almost sick about this because my son's flight is in 6 weeks. He is going to visit his dad for a month. This is something I fully support and am glad about because so many parents out there do not get along and one parent leaves into the sunset and the child is left blaming himself. I refuse to do that so I heavily support any and all time they get to spend together - but now this and $1800 in flight costs (paid by his father), and several hundred in costs to me for all this muck, is in trouble.

    I have tried 3 other ways to contact the Embassy so far but each time I am given the message that the ONLY way to reach them is to call those ridiculous phone numbers that cost so much. The line that costs 69p plus VAT is by credit card only, the premium line comes on your phone bill. Eenie Meenie Minie Moe... which bill will I rack up today while trying to find out why my son's passport application seems to be stalled for 10 11 12 weeks.

    But really, my frustration is over this whole system all together. You have to practically beat your own brains out to try to manouver around any govt program these days, whether it is Worker's Comp, EI, Retirement, Citizenship, Immigration, etc. And yet people want even MORE govt programs brought in? Are you freaking kidding me? I have been through the gambit in many different situations but this one takes the cake.

    I cannot stand being alone when it's quiet at night time because my gut instantly turns inside out and I feel the anxiety pains rising because I feel completely out of control of this situation. They have MY money and MY original documents in their possession and I cannot find anyone who is willing to answer the simplest of questions. It is frustrating. No wonder it drives some people to drink or worse. Seriously.

    I attempted to get my son a Canadian passport instead, because all these years customs officials kept telling me he IS Canadian... but I come to find that I need a special 'certificate of citizenship' first, that costs $75 and needs completely different sized photos which were another added cost of course - and this can take 10 MONTHS to complete unless they agree to an Urgency request via a letter I am supposed to include.... What takes 10 months to look at my original birth certificate, look at my son's, look at his Alberta Health Care card and know it was requested in the second week of May 1998, his school education number that shows he has been schooled in Canada every single year and is completing Grade 8 right now.... why would it take 10 months to do that? When I am the one who has to send in all these documents and they dont even have to look them up? Oh yeah - it's because it's a govt program.

    I am going to attempt to call the British High Commission in Ottawa to see if they have any advice or pull, and see if I can contact the Embassy in Washington on their direct line for the same. But I am not holding my breath. Each time I call the crazy cost number, I am told it is still in processing and to call back 'in a couple of weeks'. How many times do I have to do that when I need this thing done, mailed back to me, etc in under 5 weeks? I am at a loss over what to do and it just makes me livid. As with everything else these days, the costs go up but the service goes down - and it effects people's lives but the govt doesnt take that into account. They hear all these sob stories every day and lose their ability for apathy and concern. But hey - let's just keep all that going and add even more programs all the time, because surely the govt has proven itself to be so good at their other responsibilities.

    PS - I will not be able to get a Canadian passport in time for my son's flight so if the british one does not show up, I have no idea what we are going to do.

    Ugly TO

    If you're in Toronto, or the GTA, where abouts?Are you finding what I find, that the weeds everywhere are just obnoxiously horrible?I know, I know . . . the environment. While I'm all for not killing ourselves with chemicals, I wonder if there isn't some way to rid ourselves of the weeds for both aesthetics and for the health benefits of those of us who suffer from allergies. Seasonal allergies

    More on Universal Daycare

    This topic highly interests me so I have been spending ages looking for more information on the Liberal plan to have a Universal Daycare Program across Canada. I am coming up blank on some very important issues. Has anyone else found anything concrete or just 'numbers'?? I can find all sorts of mentions of various totals the program was supposed to have (anywhere from $500 million to $2 billion) but even then, I cannot find for sure if that was supposed to be yearly, over 5 years, or what.

    But here are other things that concern me and I have yet to find any sort of answer for:

    1 - Wages. If the vast majority of income for daycare centers will come from the government, who then determines the staff's wages? Staff that are casual, part-time, full-time; staff that are level one, level two, or level three educated; staff that are long term 5 10 15 20 years in the same center; staff that are new hires or working there less than 5 years; and so on. If a daycare can only charge $7 a day per space, that does not leave much room (if any) for control over how they pay their own staff. In my center, it would take about 15 spaces to make up ONE staff member's wage and we only have 21 spaces. Hmmm... not much elbow room. So should the government determine my wage? Will it increase? Decrease? Stay the same? If it stays the same - for how long? I have been at my center since 1995 - will they take that into account, or just pay us all the same? What about differing standards of living in each town, city, and rural area? Staff in Calgary make considerably more per hour than in my town because the costs are higher. Who in the wide wide world of sports is going to sit around and figure all of this out? I have yet to see any mention of it anywhere.

    Note: Quebec has centers in this style but I do not wish to check out their funding because the province receives a healthy portion from the rest of us in Canada in order to be able to do what they do now, so it's moot point. If it goes across Canada eventually, those funds will be stretched thinner.

    2 - Extra Activities. What amount of funding will go to each center to determine the amount of activites each place does? Will they all have to be stream-lined and offer the same? For example, we have offered Sign Language programs and field trips. Other centers have offered Music Appreciation and brought in puppeteers or story tellers. Some have toy and book lending libraries. Some have parents do volunteer work to lower their fees. Each place is unique and parents can shop around to find out what they like and how much they are willing to pay. But if the bulk of funds is coming from the government, will those differences and choices be removed?

    3 - Education levels. I mentioned above that there are different education levels that affect pay rate, but there are also differences from province to province over what amount of education is required for daycare staff. When I lived in BC, I could not work in the local daycare despite 6 years of experience because I did not have my first year of ECD certificate. In Alberta and Saskatchewan, I could work there without the first year certificate, as long as I had completed a smaller course that is even offered for free at the colleges. So basically, in BC at least, all staff required an ECD certificate but in other provinces they do not.... will that remain the same or will everyone have to become the same and provinces no longer be in control. After all, if the bulk of the cash is coming from the Feds, what 'say' would each province have?

    4 - Is $7 a day fair to those who only earn low incomes? That works out to about $140 a month for 20 days of care.... but that is almost $50 a month MORE than what current low income parents pay at my center who are subsidized. Will there be subsidy for those individuals again, or will they have to pay the same amount as someone who earns hundreds of thousands of dollars per year? Is that actually 'fair'? Fair to whom? The middle class would see a great change in their monthly finances that's for sure - it appears it would benefit them the most. However - will the costs show up elsewhere instead? Higher income taxes or taxes and prices on other goods and services? Will they REALLY save what they think they are going to save? Who has the answer for this? And then you have to picture the low income families again who may end up paying MORE in some regions than they do right now, and then also have to struggle with increased costs elsewhere in their lives. That doesn't exactly sound exciting.

    5 - Food. Will the government take into account what the children are fed and how much it costs? Snacks and lunches are provided - but each region has different food costs and get their food from different places. Some make it on site, some have it catered. Will this change? What if one center currently charges a higher fee than mine does because the food is catered while we make it by hand... will they receive more funding than us each month? Is that fair? Who will determine this?

    6 - Misc Costs. Utilities and operating costs will differ from region to region. How will funding for that work? Will each center have to hand in all of their receipts each month such as phone, utilities, internet, book keeping, lease or rent cost, etc and receive it back the next month in funding? Who will handle this? My boss does her books by hand each month and then employs an accountant once a year for the final income tax stuff while others hire book keepers each and every month to deal with bills, payroll, etc. Will they receive more funding than us? Is that fair? My center is actually in a home that my boss lives in, so who will decide how much of her combined utility bill pertains to running the center? Who decides all of this? Will the government (aka the taxpayers) be footing the bill for a center's accountant??? Seriously - how is this all going to work?? Does anyone have an actual answer?

    7 - Late payments. Over the past 15 years, the govt has been notoriously late putting in the funding that we DO get (subsidies, staff wage enhancement, etc) and we have to work around that. What if the entire business's funding is coming from the govt aside from a piddly daily fee for the parents, and it is LATE? How will staff be paid, bills be paid, doors stay open, if this continues to be a regular occurrence? My boss made a phone call a few years ago after a disasterously late govt funding payment and was told that as the business owner, she should have something else set up for 'such occasions'. That was back in the day when less than half of the funding came from the govt via subsidized parents.... what exactly do they expect a business owner to 'have in place' when 90% of the funding is received that way? A second job? To cover for GOVT mishandling?? For many thousands of centers across the entire country? Are you kidding me? I would say that maybe 4 times a year, the funding goes in 'on time' right now. Are we ready for this to get scarier?

    8 - Choice. I have been told, while questioning this idea in the past, that centers would have a choice whether to be part of the $7-a-day daycare program or not,,, they could remain completely private and separate if they wish, like in Quebec. Okay - so that would mean we would only be catering to the well-off families who are willing to pay $650+ a month instead of $140 a month, and give up our goal of trying to help local parents who are lower and middle income. We have the second lowest monthly fee in the city and yet have the lowest staff turnover by far. We have looked after entire families of 7 children, one after the other, and they come back to see us when they are grown and are now starting to come with THEIR own children. Makes me feel old lol, but it's also wonderful. So we would have to kiss that goodbye if we decided not to buy into this 'universal daycare' program nonsense. I doubt we would even go private, what would happen is we would close our doors and I am willing to bet money that we would not be the only ones by far. Once the newness wears off and people see what is really going on and directors see how they have lost control of their businesses, we will see doors closing or becoming private faster than you can blink, or treasured staff dropping out. Mark my words.

    Okay so why am I ranting about this again when the Liberals suffered an historic defeat this month? Because the topic is not going to go away. The Conservatives have a majority right now but we cannot predict what is going to happen in the future. I received several emails at work before the election, from places like the Canadian Child Care Federation, willing staff to 'vote for Child Care' in the election. Those emails will keep coming every cycle and the topic will not just disappear. I would like the answers to each and every one of my questions answered by those who support the idea, those who hold office and tout the program. I do not want wishy-washy numbers thrown at me, I want to see their actual PLAN in detail. Why dont others who support this??? Have they even thought about any of the 8 points I listed above? Or do they think it's going to be a magical transition and all work out peachy?

    PS - will this also be directed toward day HOMES? They have to be licensed in Alberta and other provinces, so would they be part of this $7/day thing as well? Or would they be forced out and lose their dayhomes to larger centers that have more than 6 children in them? If they are regulated and licensed much the same as any daycare center, would they not be part of this as well? That's another huge cost to tax payers to take into account.

    Gene Simmons, Israel, Obama

    *the video doesnt seem to want to load on my page, so GO HERE to see it.

    hat tip to Hot Air Pundit for the vid.

    Make mental note of Mr Simmons saying he voted for Obama. I like Gene, but I have seen him make comments in the past about anti-Obama people and suggesting that they were being unfair... okay so now it's time for Gene to come out and complain that Obama is an 'idealist'? That's what those anti-Obama people said right from day one, providing endless lists of reasons why Obama and his ideals should not be allowed in the White House - but they were ignored. And yet bit by bit, little by little, big names are coming out against Obama for the very same things everyone else warned about from the start - BEFORE the election, and yet these big names plead ignorance. *sigh*. I guess it's a good thing that they are coming out of the corners and speaking out, but it seems too little too late.

    Still, I liked this clip because when I read about Obama's words regarding Israel returning to pre-1967 borders on Thursday, my mouth hung wide open. It shocked me.... especially with Benjamin coming the very next day for a visit....


    The news this week listed 3 new senate appointees by Harper and well..... at least 2 are not-so-new. They resigned from the senate in order to run as MP candidates, lost, and are now back in the Senate. As with my dislike of my city mayor leaving office for 6 weeks to run as the liberal MP candidate, losing, and then waltzing back in as mayor - I did not like what Harper did with the senators either. Is there an ulterior motive to prove why he believes the senate should be elected? Perhaps. But whatever the 'reason', I dont think it looked very good to start off the new majority with negative headline making.

    Under Construction

    With the results of the 2011 election now firmly behind us, and that still stuck-on grin I have from the Conservative majority, my blog posting has been AWOL. Truth being, I'm a little worn out from 5 years of a minority government, and far behind on current projects (see pictures). With that in mind, this blog will be on hiatus for the next few months, as I catch up on time with family, friends, and my '68 Camaro. Come September I will be posting every day, hoping to see the same results achieved with the Ontario election.

    And now the end is near.....

    Number one on the list: An end to taxpayer subsidies for political parties.

    Next up: The oppressive Canadian Wheat Board and soon to follow, the long gun registry.

    And for an added bonus some common sense on cap and trade and incandescent light bulbs!

    The left is going to go nuts.

    For your daily media fear-mongering fix we have Lawrence Martin trying to convince everyone that the media is in the PM's pocket.

    Taking Notice

    Just a few things I have made note of over the past few weeks ( I might add to this as I think of more that I forgot to include - I need a notebook to jot my ideas down in lol)....

    First off, being a member of several health forums now for 'trigeminal neuralgia', I have run into several Canadians who keep mentioning that they are glad that we dont have a 'US-style' health care system (because of the cost).... but then as I read back through their own posts, I run into constant mentions of how the waiting list to see some neurologists in their areas are 12-18 months. This was in very urban areas, not rural. So they are glad they don't have to 'pay much' (see my note following this sentence), but they are okay with having to wait over a year for an appt to see a specialist? And that's just for a first consult - who knows how long it takes after that for followup appts. Ummmmmmm and they don't think they have to pay much??? They pay every single DAY of their lives through various taxes on just about everything. Higher taxes than the US has - so ummmmm yeah folks, you ARE paying a fair amount (and in one province in particular this was happening in - BC- they also have sales tax harmonized with GST, AND they pay a monthly premium to boot). So they ARE paying a lot AND they have a crappy waiting list to twiddle their thumbs to. That's just lovely. GREAT system. Blah! I can barely stand it! Another thing that surprised me is a woman living on 'the island' (Vancouver Island) who had a problem finding a specialist and when she did, it was a 1.5 to 2 year wait , and if she has to travel to Vancouver, the waiting list there was 12 to 18 months.... there are almost a million people living on 'the island' but not enough access to specialists?? Why not? Oh I know - because the provincial govt has not deemed it necessary. Well guess what, if we had a more US-style system, a neurologist might travel to the beautiful city of Victoria, or maybe Nanaimo, fall in love with it, and decide to set up shop there. Wouldnt that be lovely? He/she could take on patients that have been struggling with flight and ferry costs for appts (saving hundreds of dollars for many people per visit that they could instead put toward their direct health care costs through fee payment or private insurance), and do a world of good at the same time. But - that is not really allowed to happen here. The 'red tape' for opening up a private medical clinic is very tough to go through, from what I have read and heard over the years, so many do not bother. So - the citizens have to travel or not get treatment at all if they cannot afford all those ferry crossings or flights. Another thing many try to do is attend Pain Management Clinics in the meantime but there is a backlog there as well and when they finally get in, many find a replacement backup doc instead who cannot really do anything and is not familiar with the files. What a giant waste of time AND money. Another interesting thing to note - one patient tried to get an appt at the University of British Columbia Neurosurgery Dept but they no longer do facial nerve surgery - so where do you go?

    Meanwhile, on the American members threads, I see no-end of lists of doctors and surgeons and specialists. Yes the population is 10 times higher than Canada, however it's not all about that. I have posted before that my friend lives in a city in South Carolina now and out of curiousity I looked up the number of allergy specialists there and there were 14 within an hour driving distance, but most right in the city. Her city is SMALLER than mine, smaller population and close to a few major urban centers, but they still had 14 allergy specialists in the yellow pages.... guess how many my city in Alberta has? NONE. We have to travel to Calgary..... but my city is larger than my friend's and they have 14 and we have 0. What's up with that? Is the US style system REALLY that awful? How is our's better? I'm not glad about having to wait several months or a year or longer for important appts and treatments. I would rather have the option to pay without having to travel half way across the country or down into the US. But I cannot do that. Even though I
    pay for this system every day in several ways, I am not allowed 'choice' and have to endure waiting lists a mile long.
    Enough about that, it's like beating a dead horse.

    Another thing I made note of was from Monday night's David Letterman show. My brother is in NYC right now and happened to win tickets to that taping, so I watched Letterman for the first time in probably 15 or more years lol. During the opening monologue, DL made light of the news that the US has 'hit the debt ceiling'... and then he proceeded to say that he has no idea what that even means. People laughed..... oh how hilarious! Let's just joke about the dire circumstanes the US is facing.

    I tried to think of an analogy to help poor mr DL and immediately I came up with this: You are in a house when water suddenly rushes in and fills it up until you are floating and your head hits the ceiling. You are gasping for air in the shrinking space while water continues to flow in - but it is no use, you are now drowning. But suddenly - someone comes along and raises your ceiling! Cranks it up another foot and you are floating again,breathing in the sweet air ---- however the water is STILL flowing and it fills up to the ceiling again. You are drowning again.... and yet somehow someone still magically comes along and raises the ceiling for you and you float and breathe yet again.... Does that sound like it's going to ever solve anything? Are you going to get out of there alive because someone keeps raising the ceiling for you? Not if the water keeps coming and coming. You are going to be dead eventually. You;ve only been given a temporary teaser of air that will not last. The only thing that will save you is cutting off the water flow. Someone has to figure out how to stop it before you can be sure to have a chance...

    Now back to the debt ceiling - if the US is oozing money, bleeding money, or completely out of money - is raising the debt ceiling (again) going to actually save anyone? If the problems that caused this in the first place are not addressed, it's just going to keep happening!

    Can anyone tell me . . .

    . . . did any of Justin Bieber, Jim Carrey, Anne Murray, Shania Twain, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Michael J. Fox, Robert Bateman, Paul Brandt, Sarah Chalke, Emily Carr, Lorne Michaels, Norman Jewison, Chantal Kreviazuk or Stompin' Tom Connors . . . receive any arts funding? Just wondering.I believe that it's a good idea to encourage new artists, but hey . . . let's face it . . . Canada is a small

    Teaching moments

    *** This is not a political post. It's about a personal matter. Just so you know. **Personal responsibility is an important issue to me. Cause and effect ... everything you do has consequences.My 17 year old daughter won't be going to her prom in two weeks. It's a decision made by her school administration this week. They say that she is the author of her own misfortune and that she has to

    Alfred Apps and the Liberal Party: Passing on the blame.

    From the Globe and Mail: " In a Facebook post Thursday, Mr. Apps warned Liberals “not to put the cart before the horse.”

    “Very gratified with the goodwill, as well as the honest and constructive dialogue with our MPs and Senators,” he said of the caucus meeting. “Even the high emotions are respected, after all it was a devastating defeat and desire to fix blame is totally understandable. But we should move on.”
    Meanwhile, he said he and the party executive had nothing to do with the strategy behind the losing campaign. He said he delivered on his part of the job – supplying the money to fund the campaign. "

    Sure Alf, aside from going down to the US to recruit Michael Ignatieff for the leaders job and then falsely using the coalition crisis as an excuse to trample the Liberal Party constitution and voice of the grassroots to appoint Ignatieff as leader, you the party executive had no part at all in the defeat.

    Sigh. When will these guys learn. Ignoring the grassroots party members is never a good idea, and trying to re-write history to spin your own people is even worse.

    Oh and there is also this about the party not authorizing funds to the struggling Ignatieff campaign in the last couple of weeks of the election campaign.

    Previous entries on Alfred Apps.

    Tech II

    The wreck in tech stocks back in 2000 was the market’s way of telling investors that their expectations were running away from them. But change doesn’t stop and while the market megawobbled real progress trundled on. A couple recent items showing how the grind continues: Microsoft is planning to buy Skype, and Google wants to develop a driverless car.

    Both of these technologies seem to be gaining traction. Video telephony has been around as a concept seemingly forever, but is now turning into reality. The driverless car is a more audacious concept, but the Goog seems to believe it is actually doable.

    Both of these developments would have major implications, but especially the latter. Google’s chief of driverlessness asserts that switching to a system of robo-cabs could cut the US car fleet in half (just think of how many driver-owned cars are sitting idle for most of the day). That would be an astonishing kick in the ****s for an auto industry already staggering under the weight of global overcapacity. And it would hammer employment in the driving industry (trucks and taxis), one of the biggest employment categories in the economy, and an even bigger part of the non-specialist economy.

    The effect on the corporations would also be huge: Microsoft would become a major telco, Google a transportation giant. Both have outsized corporate-imperial ambitions; Google’s seem to be verging on the insane – but maybe what is really crazy is the technology.

    More generally this suggests a bizarre future landscape of uncertain but potentially enormous opportunities, with Transformer-like corporations reconstituting themselves on short notice to acquire massive new capabilities. Interesting times.

    Chretien urges PM Harper not to follow through on election promise.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper should reconsider his vow to end the direct per-vote subsidy for political parties, says former prime minister Jean Chrétien.

    Sort of arrogant, no? Having a former PM ask the current PM not to follow through on his election promises?

    Thank you Jean, but cutting party subsidies was an election platform promise, in fact I would call it a major plank of that platform, and the Conservatives were elected on that platform. The Conservative Party of Canada is not the Liberal Party where promises to abolish the GST or the numerous times they promised a national child care system are never followed through on.  This PM will follow through on his platform promise.

    If a party's own members do not care enough to support that party with their own money, why should the taxpayer have to prop them up?

    Give the girl a break

    Ruth Ellen Brosseau admits she put her name forward so the NDP could field a candidate in a riding where they hadn't one. While I believe the NDP should be taken to task for allowing someone to *fill a slot* as it were, Brosseau herself should be cut some slack. Voters don't always look at the literature. We don't read the pamphlets that are dropped in our mailboxes. We don't open our doors to

    Did Quebec reject the Bloc to make a coalition easier?

    There has been lots written the last couple of days about the collapse of the Bloc and the NDP surge in Quebec and so far I have not read anything that really explains what happened. Did BQ supporters all wake up one day and decide to toss out a party that for years has enjoyed their support because of something Duceppe did or did not do? Were they all taken in by the guy from downtown Toronto with the big smile and equally big spending promises? 

    While I don't claim to know the answer I do have some thoughts and a possible piece of the puzzle as to why Bloc supporters decided to abandon their party and support the NDP.

    The coalition.

    Whenever the idea of a coalition has been discussed it has been quite clear that having Bloc MPs as part of any coalition was not to the liking of most Canadians. During the original coalition crisis both the Liberals and NDP were desperately trying to spin that the Bloc were not actually part of the coalition, only that they would be supporting it, and Ignatieff himself had this to say as to why he didn't enter into the deal he had signed: "I could be sitting here as your prime minister, but I turned it down because I didn’t think it was right for someone who believes in the national unity of my country to make a deal with people who want to split the country up," 

    Having separatist Bloc MP's either in or supporting a coalition government did not fly in 2008 and was never going to go over well with Canadians. Bloc supporters were as aware of this problem as much as anyone else but what to do about it.

    The solution: Drop the Bloc and elect enough NDP MPs so that a coalition would not only be legitimate but it would have a much better chance of being accepted by the rest of Canada.

    It makes sense and possibly explains why dedicated separatists tossed their own party and blindly voted for NDP candidates some of which were barely old enough to vote themselves, did not speak French, or have NEVER even been to the riding in which they were running in.

    Your thoughts?

    Real Life

    This mother's day weekend, I am thinking of three women facing impossible pain. One, a young single mom diagnosed with Stage 4+ bowel cancer a month ago, and now lung cancer this week. Her prognosis is not good right now, perhaps maybe a month left. I can barely think about it.

    Next, a mom watching her 5 month old baby go through chemo for his SECOND bout with cancer since birth. He underwent a blood transfusion tonight after his second round of chemo. He is doing well, but he is so young.

    And a mom who's 10 year old daughter is dying. After being born with multiple medical issues, this little girl surpassed the odds and lived twice as long, or more, than first imagined. Her family fought hard to get her treatments in the US, but now it seems that everything has come to an end and nothing more can be done. This will probably be their last Mother's Day together.

    I am heart sick about these three families from my city. Two live elsewhere now, but their families and friends are still here and everyone is praying and hoping for miracles but sometimes you have to force yourself to face reality as well.

    For those moms, please take a moment to think of them - Stacy, Misty, and Tammy. Just spare a thought for them and their children during those most difficult and gut-wrenchingly painful times. I am blessed to be able to spend another Mother's Day with my mom, but I will be thinking of the others who's hearts are breaking this weekend.


    What It All Means

    From out of a nothing election a major realignment. If this site had actually made a call it would have been for a retread of the last Parliament – although it was clear by the last weeks that bigger changes were coming. But the true pundit never allows a wrong forecast to overshadow an authoritative post-game analysis, and in that spirit we offer the following summing-up of who stands where:

    The voter. Actually, the centrist Anglophone voter, re-confirmed as the unquestioned boss of Canadian politics. The majority in Parliament is just the visible reward for Stephen Harper having humbled himself for years before a sceptical the middle-of-the-road electorate. There has probably never been an aspiring leader who has had to undergo such an lengthy and stringent probationary period. Rolling back government, cutting spending, permitting private health care and all the other planks of the hidden agenda are totally off the table. Banning abortion or gay marriage are at the bottom of the ocean (where they ought to be, btw). And the PM knows it. He governs at the voters’ pleasure.

    Stephen Harper. Chastened by the realities of what is possible the new PM has promised to behave. As a reward he is no longer chained up in the kennel but free to run around the yard. Having internalised the discipline of centrism, however, the PM can expect a nice life. He is free to work away on his long-term plan to tilt the political balance permanently to the right as long as its done quietly and there are no surprises. Within the Party he is in great shape as a successful commander. There won’t be a peep out of the troops. Looking outwards, the Liberals have been crushed, the NDP aren’t serious and there is no Quebec to deal with – they’re now the NDP’s problem. The PM can play the long game, or he can retire with honour at the end of four years. Things could be worse.

    Tory MPs. Step and fetch it. Bow and scrape. Lick and spittle. Kiss the ring and polish those apples. Junior ministries for those who keep their noses clean and their shirts brown (or the other way round). Great prospects of re-election in four years for those that need the pension qualifying period.

    The NDP. The entertainment value of Jack Layton bouncing into Stornaway is going to be hard to top. Life is certainly going to be interesting for the new kids from the Bloc, er, . . . on the block. The Parliamentary cohort now looks like something created by Dr Francophone, sorry . . Frankenstein, with 60 per cent of MPs from Quebec, and many of them clueless newbies. Jack is going to have his hands full. Unlike the disciplined ranks of Tory Storm Troopers, this crew is going to be all over the place, and they won’t be shy about bawling out Quebec’s latest demands – in fact, their constituents expect nothing less. One wonders how long it will be before some of the old-school anglo socialists start looking back at the good old days of just 35 seats and a manageable party instead of the Siamese twin that the gods of politics have fused into being. Worth noting is that they only have 43 seats in the ROC, where the Tories outnumber them by more than 3 to 1.

    The Liberals. A great example of success breeding failure. Years of winning resulted in the leaching away of any actual convictions. The party became all operators and strategists but stood for nothing. A rotten tree waiting to be blown over. Continuing complaints about unfair Tory attack ads show that a lot of people still don’t get it. The Libs now have to completely rebuild. They are not dead forever as there is certainly a space for a centre-left party. But they won’t be able to do this for the next election, which means it will be a decade before they have a hope of getting back to power.

    The Greens. Seats up, vote down. More evidence, as if any was needed, that ecological concerns are blown about like a leaf by the gusts of the economy. Elizabeth May’s reserves of kooky good cheer are going to be tested over the next four years.

    Fiscal conservatives. Absolutely nowhere. Just like before the election.

    Some Local Campaign 2011 Musings.

    Yesterday around noon I dropped off my last load of lawn signs officially ending, for myself at least, the 2011 election campaign. During the past 40 days I have run the gamut of emotions from depressing lows to exhilarating highs, with the added bonus of running myself to near exhaustion at times in the process, and now that I have some free time I thought I would put together a post on some of my election 2011 thoughts and experiences from the local level. From the time the writ was dropped until the last sign was removed, it was 40 days that I will not soon forget.

     The early days consisted mostly of helping to get the local campaign office up and running, which in our case consisted of turning a rather large empty space into the hub of the local campaign, and getting the signs out. Desks and furniture had to be brought in, temporary walls/dividers had to be fashioned, equipment such as computers, phones, copiers, shredders and even TVs had to be located brought in and hooked up, and the volunteers organized. Aside from some early grunt work of hauling things around and some minor 'construction' work, the set up of the office was capably handled by many others; I worked more on getting the signs out.

    When the writ was dropped on the last weekend of March there was 3 feet of snow in my yard, there were huge windrows along every road, and the ground frozen solid, not the best situation to be putting out election signs. The signs were being stored in a shed on a rural property in the riding and a Bobcat had to be used to clear a path through the snow just to get access. But we got them out and we got them up. Within 2 days all major and minor intersections in the riding had signs placed in all directions, but because the ground was still frozen they had to be placed in the deep snow and within a couple of weeks every single sign had to be re-visited and put solidly into the ground.

    More on signs: There were plenty of stories during the campaign on sign vandalism etc and while there were some places more effected than others, I think it is fair to say that EVERY candidate had to face some type of sign vandalism.  If you have ever dealt with signs in a campaign you can sort of tell who is going after your signage and why; when you see a bunch of signs knocked over or pulled out ( including those from your opponent) it is a good guess that it is just kids who did so as they walked by. It is when only your teams signs that get hit while the oppositions remain standing, or when your signs have be damaged or made non reusable ( no details but sign people know what I am talking about) that the political motive questions start being asked. Why people do it is beyond me, it is just stupid not mention illegal, but no matter the reasons when they knock 'em down, someone has to go out there and stand 'em back up.  BTW there were more than a few times that I stood up NDP signs that were knocked down along side our own ( You're welcome Nadine).

    Blogging: One of the regrets that I do have was not doing enough blogging during the campaign. You would think that blogging would be a no brainer as it is a political bloggers 'busy season', but the time and my energy level were just not there. I have to look at my drafts but I can wager that I have at least 10 blog entries sitting there in various stages of completion that I started but did not finish/publish for various reasons. I had a great series that I had planned on Ignatieff, aka Mr. Democracy, for the final week of the campaign but to be honest I felt that it was a waste of time and towards the end I started feeling sorry for the guy and didn't want to pile on. On the positive side I did follow closely much of the wonderful work my fellow Blogging Tories did during the campaign and when I had the time I did quite a bit of Tweeting (a quick tweet is much faster than writing a blog post).  Also my long running issue with Scott Reid and the CBC was finally resolved thanks to the Ombudsman, but even there what should have been a few days worth of good material only made it into a single blog post.

    Door-Knocking: While I did quite a few other things during the course of the campaign, it was door-knocking that took up the most of my time and provided some of the most enjoyable moments along with some of the most depressing moments of the 2011 campaign. It is my favorite election activity as I enjoy going out and knocking on doors meeting people face to face getting instant feedback, and one of the more memorable trips occurred in the middle of a spring snow storm when I met up in Millwoods with the candidate and blogged about here. The trips into Edmonton-Strathcona though were memorable for much different reasons. The first trips I made into E-S were great; lots of positive feedback and when we left there were as many Hastman lawn signs out as there were Duncan signs. But those first trips were in polls on the edge of the riding and as we got closer to the University area things became much different. Most of people I met at the door were polite enough, although having a door slammed in your face even just once tends to make for a bad day, but it was clear that most of those met were Duncan supporters and in these polls the Duncan signs were everywhere. On one particular street there were 15 homes, 9 of which had Linda Duncan signs on the lawn, and this was not an anomaly as it was near impossible to go to more than 5-6 homes anywhere in these polls and not encounter an Orange NDP sign. Needless to say that after a couple of days of that sort of thing that ones confidence goes down somewhat and you become unsure if you are having any impact at all.

    Election night: When it was all over and the votes counted we had won in Edmonton Millwoods Beaumont, lost in Edmonton Strathcona, consumed an over abundance of chicken wings, and for the first time ever the CPC had enough seats to form a majority government, but all I could really think about was that we didn't have to do this again for another 4 1/2 years and that in 2015 my daughter will be eligible to vote for the very first time.

    It was over but for the clean up, which would begin bright and early Tuesday morning.

    The campaign started when the government fell on March 25 on a Liberal motion of non confidence ( Insert joke of your choice here) the political situation for the Conservatives was not great, the weather was cold and miserable, and there was still 3 ft of snow on my front lawn. 40 days later and we now have a majority government, the sun is shining, the snow gone, my grass is starting to turn green and flowers are starting to come up.

    It was worth all of the work.

    2011 Election: What happened in Edmonton Strathcona.

    The contest in Edmonton-Strathcona between Linda Duncan of the NDP and Ryan Hastman of the Conservative Party was considered a riding to watch by many because it was the only riding in Alberta not held by the Conservatives. Duncan won the riding in the 2008 campaign defeating Rahim Jaffer by a slim 463 vote margin and it had been no secret that the CPC wanted it back and that the NDP would stop at nothing to hold it.

    The end results: Turnout: 48,763 out of 71,050 electors. 68.6%

    NDP   Duncan     26,134     53.6%
    CPC   Hastman   19,755     40.5%

    LPC   Sinclair       1,363      2.8%

    GPC   Fehr           1,127       2.3%

    So what happened in Edmonton Strathcona?

    The best summation that I can make is that the election was won by the Linda Duncan NDP campaign and that it was not 'lost' by the Ryan Hastman team. I know how that may sound like I am trying to blow smoke somewhere but it really is the best explanation of the reality in the Edm Strathcona race.

    Full disclosure: On a few occasions during the 2011 election I actively campaigned (mostly door knocking) for Ryan Hastman in Edmonton Strathcona.

    The NDP pulled out all of the stops in an attempt to hold the riding which they called "Battleground Alberta" in a national fund-raising campaign.They had volunteers from all over descended to do the ground work (there were rumours of paid door knocking crews but with the numbers of volunteers the NDP had at their disposal from provincial assets I have my doubts), and even Jack Layton came to town on two separate occasions to rally the troops and local dipper voters. They were funded, had the man power, were well prepared, and ran a smart and effective campaign.

    On the CPC side similiar can also be said. They were well funded, had the man power, were well prepared, and ran a smart and effective campaign but they faced an uphill battle from the beginning as well as some obstacles and challenges that the Duncan campaign did not. Challenges such as the power of incumbency and demographics not seen in other Edmonton area ridings.

    Getting rid of a sitting MP is not generally a easy task as people tend to re elect people they know and are 'familiar' with, and when that MP is believed to be doing a decent job it is even more difficult to accomplish.  I heard it myself at the doors from people who would be considered to be conservative supporters that they thought that she was doing a decent job on the local level as their MP, they had issues with her and the positions she and the NDP took in Ottawa, but not her work at the constituency level. This is sort of a double whammy because one of the biggest reasons why voters turned to Duncan in the first place was because Jaffer was considered by many to be an absent MP. I don't want to go into the demographics too much other than the say that the riding contains the 'hipster' areas of Whyte Avenue and old Strathcona as well as the Campus of the University of Alberta. To say the riding is unique for Edmonton or even Alberta would not be an understatement.

    It was an uphill battle to begin with and to make matters worse the Hastman campaign not only had to fight a formidable NDP campaign, incumbency and the unique demographics, they would have to face intangibles which nobody could plan for; namely the almost complete collapse of the Liberal vote and the unexpected surge of the NDP nationally. In 2006 the Liberal candidate received over 9,000 votes under the Paul Martin banner, in 2008 they received over 4000 while under Dion, (which many assumed would be the low point for  the Libs and that under Iggy they would at least hold that vote if not increase it), but that was a very wrong assumption as their candidate received only 1,363 votes in total. As for the surge; I am not sure how many more votes were actually gained from it in the riding on the whole, I don't believe it was that many but one thing I am sure about is that it fired up their staff and volunteers and it galvanized the already existing vote/support in the only NDP riding in Alberta.

    In the end Linda Duncan and her team deserve full credit for the victory that they worked so hard to obtain and Ryan can take heart in knowing that he and his team ran one hell of a campaign* against almost impossible odds.

    * If there is one positive in this it is that Ryan has proven himself to be capable candidate and a tireless formidable campaigner. Having won a close nomination race in June 17th 2009 he had knocked on 9,000 doors before the one year anniversary of that nomination passed and when the writ was dropped hit the ground running, not stopping until it was over. He performed well in the campaign and even though it was not rewarded with a win at the ballot box, his determination, work ethic, and energy didn't go unnoticed; causing even the NDP to put extra money and resources into the riding into an effort to beat Hastman and hold the riding. I would say that is an accomplishment in itself.

    Those Darn Albertans....

    What a riot reading posts today from my Liberal friends on FB, and random comments around the net. I saw such quips as "I knew Alberta would throw the rest of Canada in the pan again, but who knew it would be Ontario's fault too".

    Really? So Alberta and Ontario are the Conservative strong holds that are to blame for this dastardly Conservative Majority govt, are they? Tsk tsk.

    Well then let's see. My local paper printed the results of every single riding in Canada in today's paper so let's look at the provincial tallies first:

    British Columbia 21 ridings voted Conservative MPs in
    Alberta 27
    Saskatchewan 13
    Manitoba 11
    Ontario 72
    Quebec 6
    New Brunswick 8
    PEI 1
    Nova Scotia 4
    NFLD 1
    Nunavut 1
    Yukon 1
    NWT 0

    Yes, Yes, Yes Ontario filled 72 seats (forgive me if I counted wrong, I was going cross-eyed, but it must be close) and 27 of Alberta's 28 seats were filled with Conservatives, but the other provinices and territories combined filled another 67 seats. Heck, NB went 8/10 for 80% Conservative MPs. Looking at it another way, over 40% of the total Conservative seats were filled in provinces and territories OTHER THAN Alberta and Ontario. That's a pretty healthy chunk. But Alberta and Ontario will take the blame. A province of less than 4 million people (Alberta) always gets the blame for Conservative antics eh? At least now Ontario will get to know more of what that feels like, even though they have a much larger population. More people live in the GTA than in all of Alberta lol. But still, it's still nice to share the 'blame' for a Conservative majority. Why? Because I think it's great that Harper and Co finally get a chance at a majority. Hopefully they won't screw it up or next election will be completely terrifying if the NDP manage to keep all of their new voters and gain some more while they are it it. *shudder*.

    Another topic on the run is the 'popular vote' of course. I find it very strange that when I have mentioned the 'popular vote' tally (referring to representation for the West) in past elections, I have been told that it 'doesnt matter because it goes by seats', 'suck it up, the Conservatives are the losers again' etc. Now this time around, I am hearing constantly about how the conservatives do not have the majority of the popular vote, how 'more than 60% of Canadians voted against them' and so on. Oh so now the popular vote IS important. Okay, so now the seat count DOESN'T matter because it didn't go the left-leaning parties' way. I see. Now it all makes sense.

    So I took another gander at the Canada-wide riding tallies and saw that most of the places with a Conservative MP won by a great chunk of voting totals. Some races were VERY close, within hundreds or a mere thousand in large ridings. But in many of the other ridings, the Conservatives took a much larger win by several thousand, or  10 to 30 thousand. That's no chump-change, is it?

    Are you bored yet? Im going through the provinces again to look at high and low win totals (at the time my paper printed them so not all were completely tallied):

    British Columbia: There were 13 out of 21 ridings with Conservatives ahead more than 10,000 votes ( 6 of those being more than 15,000 votes ahead).
    Alberta: 24/27 ridings more than 10,000 votes ahead
    Saskatchewan: 5/13 more than 10,000 votes ahead, and 4 of the remaining were more than 5,000 votes ahead
    Manitoba: 7/13 more than 10,000 votes ahead
    Ontario: 49/72 were more than 10,000 votes ahead
    Quebec: 2/6 were more than 10,000 votes ahead (very close polls in those ridings tho, holy moly)
    NB: 5/8 more than 10,000 votes ahead
    NS: 2/4 more than 10,000 votes ahead
    NFLD: extremely close (only 200 votes separating Cons and Lib in that riding)
    very very close in the territories
    PEI: 1 seat, won by more than 5000 votes
    In other words, only 3 provinces had less than 50% of their Conservative seats won by a large margin. Or, 7 out of 10 provinces had MORE than 50% of their Conservative seats won by a large margin. However you want to look at it.

    Anyhow, my point is, popular vote or not, 65% of the ridings I looked at with Conservative MP wins had more than 10,000 votes above the runners-up. For a switch, I counted up ALL of the remaining ridings in Canada (aside from Quebec's which I will get to afterward), and out of all the seats going to Lib/NDP/Green, only NINE of them won by a margin of over 10,000 votes ahead of the Conservatives (even in the cases where the Con candidate was in 3rd place). NINE. That's it! So what's this about the popular vote again?

    Oh so let's look at Quebec. A highly populated province with the second-highest number of seats in the House (about 75 I believe), a population of about 8 million people, 25% of Canada's total population, and that just literally turned Orange in a sea of NDP voters. When you add in their seat wins (NDP/Lib/Bloc), there are 56 (Fifty-Six) where the winner was more than 10,000 votes ahead of the Conservative candidate.

    So when we are talking about the 'popular vote' in Canada, perhaps those who are whining and complaining should say that 'The majority of Quebec citizens voted against the Conservative party, but the majority of the REST of the citizens of Canada voted FOR the Conservative party'. Only NINE ridings outside of Quebec had conservatives lose by more than 10,000 votes. Within Quebec's invisible walls, 56 ridings had Conservatives tanking (and one didn't even run a candidate at all). Outside, not so much. So I just don't get it when I read posts today and late last night that complain and whine that the conservatives do not have the 'popular vote'..... it's more like they do not have the popular vote of Quebecers, and that's not a surprise anyway.

    If you then go to the elections canada website and look at the popular vote by province, you find this:

    BC 45.5%
    AB 66.8%
    SK 56.3%
    MB 53.5%
    ON 44.4%
    NB 43.9%
    NS 36.7%
    PEI 41.2%
    NF/Lab 28.4%
    Nunavut 49.9%
    Yukon 33.8%
    NWT 32.1%
    and finally Quebec 16.5%

    It doesn't look so hot for the Conservatives on that list, but they still managed to pull off a majority due to the 'seat' system and representation by population blah blah rules. And you keep in mind that in most of them, the NDP had even lower totals.

    Apparently the big deal with this popular vote is that more Canadians voted left of center than right of center. Well, the fact remains that there are several left-leaning parties and only one that is right-leaning. If the votes get split between the left-parties, and yet they still do not manage to pick up enough seats to force a minority Conservative govt or completely over-throw them, who's fault is that? The Conservative voters? The Conservative party? Or how about the voters who spread themselves between the Liberal, NDP, Green, Bloc, etc? YES more than 60% of Canadians voted for a party 'other than' the Conservatives, but that is how our system works and has worked all along, so if you don't like it - change it. Put forward the idea for change. It's been discussed before that we need a change, but then I continuously see people ranting about NOT wanting to go with a US-style system where two main parties have been at the helm back and forth for eons - Democrats and Republicans. Well what is the answer then?? Seriously - WHAT is the answer then? Our past majority govts were at less than 50% too, even the Libs (other than a Mulrooney time where he hit 50% popular vote).

    You don't want two parties, but you don't like it when a majority of seats are taken by a party with only 40% of the popular vote while 60% gets spread between 2-3 other 'main parties'. Make up your minds please.

    If the party with the highest popular vote won, who would that be then? In this election, according to the popular vote tallies, the Conservatives had about 5,832, 401 votes total across Canada, and the next runner up, the NDP, had 4,508, 474 votes total. 39.6% for Conservatives, and 30.6% for NDP. Neither of those is over 50% of course. You could throw in the Liberals with the NDP, but you would STILL fall short of 50%! That comes to 49.5% of the popular vote. Oh GEEZ that's still not a true majority. What DOES push it over the 50% magic mark is the 6% of voters who chose the Bloc - a party that cannot even be voted for outside of Quebec. I guess we better get out the Green Party's 3.9% then and throw it in with the NDP and the Liberals for a cool 53.4% of Canadian voters. Phew I feel much better now. That is a massive majority eh? Too bad it took adding 3 parties together to get to that magic majority number.

    Why do I say that instead of pointing out that the Liberals and NDP have more of the popular vote together than the Conservatives do, even though it's still less than 50%? Because apparently Elizabeth May of the Green Party said that the Conservatives  have a "false majority". If that means less than 50%, well, so? With so many parties up here to vote for, when are we going to have a 'true majority'? When was the last 'true majority'? I just went back to elections canada again and they have the tables back to 1997 and the highest 'popular vote' percentage is 40% for the Liberals in 1997. So we haven't had a 'true majority' in at least 24 years. And for all the Liberal voters I have read moaning about the 39.6% total for the Conservatives, well --- that's the second highest 'popular vote' I saw in the tables including when the Liberals had a majority govt. And back in those days, the NDP had a tiny fraction compared to this election, 10%, so that still didn't put them over 50% aside from ONE time. I could run around saying that for many years the majority of Canadians have been voting for a party 'other than' Liberal and bitch and cry about it, but I won't. That's for you to do right now instead and of course never ever see that you are the pot calling the kettle black each and every time.

    Do you think if the NDP had somehow managed to slaughter everyone and steal more Conservative seats and win a bare majority, or a minority, that you wouldn't be saying 'suck it up' to Conservative voters? Of course you would - so then I say the same thing - suck it up. The votes were in and counted, and Conservatives won seats in every province. In 2 of the 3 territories. And it was enough to surpass the amount they needed to seal a majority of seats in parliament, just like the Liberals have done in past elections. But it was okay then right? Of course it was!