A Whole New Meaning For The Term “Public Transport”

Usually when one hears the term “Public Transport” one usually thinks about publicly subsidized transit systems like the TTC or GoTransit. But the McGuinty government has added a new possible meaning to that term by deciding to provide significant public subsidies to people who purchase new electric cars. The Ontario government is actually spending tax payer money to help people buy private automobiles. That’s just nuts!
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Is School Board Playing Politics With Its Libraries?

According to a story in the Toronto Star, “the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has laid off all but four of its library technicians and is dismantling all its libraries.” Apparently declining enrollment is putting them in a negative budget situation and forcing them to make cuts.

Now I’m all for making cuts, but if the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board is anything like the School Boards I’ve had experience with, there are plenty of opportunities to make cuts without cutting services to students. But they haven’t gone that route and I have to wonder why? Could it perhaps have anything to do with the fact that there’s an upcoming provincial election?

I’ve got family in Essex, and as anybody who lives out there can tell you, the region was hit hard by the double whammy of the Great Recession along with cutbacks in the auto industry. As a result, a large number of people have been forced to leave the area in order to find work; real estate prices in the area have taken a nose dive. It’s highly unlikely that those people will be coming back to the area. It’s also highly unlikely that new people will be moving into that area for quite some time. All of this makes it quite likely that the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board will continue to see declining enrollment. Which means it’s time to start making the hard choices and figure out which schools they’re going to close. But apparently they haven’t even started having that conversation, and I have to wonder why? Could it be that they hope this recent move to eliminate libraries might result in some additional ‘election time’ funding from the provincial government?

I hate it when people play politics with the education system. I really hate it when those political games directly impact students.

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Can Somebody Please Remind Layton He Didn’t Win

I realize that finishing second and becoming the Official Opposition must feel like a huge win for Jack Layton and the NDP. But I think somebody needs to remind Layton that the NDP didn’t actually win the election. According to the ‘victory speech’ Layton just gave to his supporters, he thinks the NDP will “assume office” and will work to bring about all the things he talked about during the election. But as much as their huge gain in seats may feel like a win, as the Official Opposition to a majority government the NDP will have virtually no power in Parliament. As strange as it may sound, if the NDP had been slightly less successful at pulling votes from the Liberals and Bloc the Conservatives might not have won the majority, and the NDP might have actually had the power to accomplish some of the things Layton talked about in his ‘victory speech’. But that’s not what happened, the Conservatives won their majority, and now all Jack gets to do is yell at Harper from the across the isle.

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Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

I think Harper will have to send Ignatieff and Layton a couple of nice big thank-you cards for handing him a majority. Because you can be sure it wasn’t Harper’s campaign that won this majority.

More thoughts later once I’ve had a while to digest this surprising turn of events.

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Dear Brad Trost, You’re An Idiot

Rob Ford won the recent Toronto Mayoral election based mostly on his conservative fiscal policy. Many in Canada viewed that as a sign that a lot of voters were sick and tired of “tax-and-spend” politicians. Those voters are the ones that the Conservative Party of Canada should be courting with their “Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.” But every time a socially conservative back bencher in the CPC party starts talking about their personal desire to ban abortion or ban gay marriage, the Conservative party alienates a bunch of people who otherwise would have voted Conservative.

As I understand it, neither the Conservative Party of Canada nor the Liberal Party of Canada have an official position on abortion. Both parties have members that are pro-choice and both parties have members that are pro-life. But the leadership of both parties tend to view the issue as a bit of a political land mine and try to avoid talking about it. Apparently that didn’t stop Conservative MP Brad Trost from opening his mouth.

Given that there are pro-life people in the Liberal Party of Canada there’s a good chance that there’s at least a few Liberal MPs who personally desire to ban abortion and/or ban gay marriage. But they’re all smart enough to keep their mouths shut, at least publicly. So the Liberal party will likely do their best to avoid commenting on Trost’s remarks in a desire not to offend voters; they’ll leave it up to the NDP and Bloc, both are officially pro-choice, to bang on the Conservatives. But behind closed doors I imagine most Liberal MPs will be quietly thanking Brad Trost for idiotically alienating voters who might have otherwise voted Conservative. Voters who are now likely to vote Liberal or not at all. Either way, it’s a win for the Liberals.

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“McGuinty Government” Rebrands Government of Ontario – Where’s The Uproar?

It wasn’t that long ago that the media and opposition parties were taking the “Harper Government” to task for referring to itself as the “Harper Government” as opposed to the “Government of Canada” in official federal government press releases.

A CBC news article reported that “the opposition said the move is unprecedented.” The CBC never actually said who “the opposition” was that made that comment, but they did quote Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc as saying, “It’s not Stephen Harper’s government, it’s the goverment of all Canadians.” He was also quoted as saying, “You’d expect this kind of directive to be issued by the ministry of information in North Korea.”

A Toronto Star article on the subject quoted Jonathon Rose, a specialist in political communications at Queen’s University as saying “It is one thing for journalists or even the public to use the more partisan ‘Harper government,’ but it is another thing for the state to equate the Government of Canada with the leader of the governing party.” Jonathon Rose noted that such language is expressly forbidden under an Ontario law that prohibits partisanship in government messaging.

So I can’t help wondering why the media isn’t all over the similar rebranding of the Government of Ontario as the “McGuinty Government.”

McGuinty Government Saving Taxpayer Dollars
McGuinty Government Working To Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders

Almost all recent Government of Ontario press releases mention the “McGuinty Government” in either the primary or secondary headline:

McGuinty Government Providing Cleaner Air For Children And Grandchildren
McGuinty Government Changing Housing System To Put People First

In fact, a quick search of the .gov.on.ca domain shows that “McGuinty Government” has been used in Government of Ontario press release headlines since McGuinty came to power in October 2003 (“McGuinty Government Creates Two New Ministries, Secretariat“).

I have to admit that I’ve never really liked it when political parties use government resources in a partisan manner, but they all do it. So why was Harper’s government called to task by the media and vilified by the opposition for doing something McGuinty has been getting away with for years? Why aren’t all those angry Liberal MPs accusing McGuinty’s press office of acting like the “the ministry of information in North Korea”? When the Harper Government referred to themselves that way in government press releases, CBC’s The National did a story on it; where’s their story on the McGuinty Government? Why isn’t McGuinty being vilified on the Internet? Why aren’t social media sites all a twitter? Why the double standard?

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Bruce Carson: Harper Should Apologize, But I Can’t Blame Him If He Won’t

I believe in giving criminals a second chance once they’ve paid their debt to society. Part of that belief comes from my basic belief that everybody makes mistakes, and everybody deserves a second chance. And part of my belief about giving criminals a second chance comes from the pragmatic recognition that if we don’t give them a second chance, if we don’t give them a chance to eventually get a good job, how can we expect them to turn their lives around and become productive members of society. So in general I don’t have a problem with somebody who has a criminal record working for the government (depending on the role). But regardless of the number of chances he’d had, or whether he had managed to turn his life around and become an honest and productive member of society, I don’t think Bruce Carson should ever have been hired to work in the PMO.
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Liberals Promise $8 Billion In New Spending

Now I freely admit that I’m just starting to get into the various party platforms, and for all I know the other parties are being just as insane. But a little more than two weeks ago, the Liberals were complaining about the size of Canada’s national debt (which they played a significant role in increasing, but that’s a topic for another time), and now they’re making campaign promises that will result in $8 Billion in new spending over the next two years. Even if they somehow manage to raise taxes enough to cover the additional $8 Billion in spending, without significantly slowing down our still recovering economy, we’re going to be left with a huge national debt. I’m stunned.

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Two Opinion Articles Take Opposite Sides On Ignatieff’s Absence From Canada

A tweet by @acoyne, the National Editor of Maclean’s magazine, lead me to two opinion pieces taking opposite sides on the Conservative’s “negative ads” about Ignatieff’s long absence from Canada and whether his absence actually matters:

Neil Young didn’t come back for you either” by Robert Fulford in the National Post.

The Ignatieffalump in the room” by Colby Cosh in Macleans.

Needless to say, these opinion articles got me thinking. And in a strange way, I find myself agreeing with both of them.
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Green Party Should Be Excluded From The Debate

Don’t get me wrong, I like Elizabeth May. She’s smart, articulate, and certainly not willing to be bullied by the ‘big boys’. There is no doubt in my mind that if she was included in the debate she’d make for some great TV. As Rick Mercer said on twitter, “She’s the vinegar that brightens up the vegetables.” And that’s why a lot of people in the media are arguing that she should be included – she’ll make the debate more interesting. While some reporters do have an obvious bias towards one party or another, most reporters are just desperate for interesting stories to report. And if May actually makes it into the debate, she’s sure to create a few great stories. After all she’s got nothing to lose and everything to gain by standing tall and trying to make mincemeat out of the ‘big boys’. But there are plenty of other people involved in politics who represent groups that don’t have a seat in Parliament, are we going to start to let them participate in the debate just because they’ll make it more interesting? How about we involve somebody from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in the debate? They certainly represent the views of a lot of Canadians. And having somebody debate on behalf of ‘the taxpayer’ might make for some great TV. But the debate isn’t supposed to be about putting on a good show. The Leadership Debate is about letting the leaders of the parties in Parliament debate the election issues in an open and fair forum in full view of the voters.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Green Party has yet to win a seat in Parliament. And if you don’t have at least one seat in government you don’t deserve a seat at the debate table.

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