Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dear Democrats,

WTF? Where were you?

(And herein lies the problem with the left in Canada and the US. Is it complacency? Ineptitude? I can't decide, but man, am I tired of it. It's time to get off the sidelines and get in the game.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dear Reader,

In the past I've mentioned The Current's Request Count. The CBC Radio program tracked the number of requests for interviews with Conservative Ministers and number of interviews actually granted. It's pretty shocking stuff - 34 requests and only 4 interviews were granted. I had thought that Steve's death-grip on government communication was an example of micro-management at its best. After coming across this, I'm not so sure.

Is kind Uncle Stevie, with his sweaters and fake smile, actually a dictator? Do yourself a favour, check out some of those links. I found these ones especially thought provoking:

Canada slips in press freedom rankings

Has Canada entered a Bush-like vortex?

Democracy Canadian-style

Gov't program wants job applicants' views on Tory budget

Watchdog slams lack of transparency in stimulus spending

Siddiqui: Harper acting like an elected dictator

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hello Ukraine,

I'm wishing you all of my best on election day. May you elect a leader with integrity and vision; someone with the ability to walk the line between the West and Russia without falling into the mire on either side.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Dear Jack,

Where on earth are you? Steve and his boys are tossing out the tenets of Canadian democracy and the NDP is busy "formulating a thoughtful, reasonable response". Parliament was prorogued on December 30th, wasn't it? How long does it take to formulate a response? Goodness me! When we will see actual signs of leadership?

Meanwhile, Tony Clement (don't get me started on Tony) claims that only the chattering classes and elites are voicing concern about Mr. Harper's authoritarian move.

Yup, member of the chattering class, that's me. Let's see:
  • Suburbanite - check
  • Middle class - check
  • Stay-at-home mother - check
  • Knitter - check
Seems to me, I should be the Conservatives target demographic. So why are they going so far out of their way to piss me off? Meanwhile, on the other side of the political spectrum we have the NDP pissing me off by continuing to do nothing.

Jack, it's time to get out there and act like you want to lead!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Oh, dear me (part 2)

There's lots of speculation in the Opposition and elsewhere (queue link to the charming, Canadian Cynic) that Steve has prorogued Parliament to avoid questions about Afghan detainees.

This time, I think Steve is actually telling the truth - it's not about covering up allegations of torture. He's quite happy to leave Defense Minister, Peter McKay, flapping in the breeze trying to deny or hide any knowledge of detainees being tortured. There's no love lost between the two men, in fact many have speculated that Harper gave McKay this portfolio to doom his political career. Steve would not shed any tears if McKay is forced to resign. (Could Steve ever shed tears? A question for another day...)

I suspect the real reason Parliament has been prorogued is to hide the fact that the federal finances are in far worse shape than Steve and his pal, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, would have us believe. Keep your eyes open for a report from Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page next week. He may be our only link to the truth about our financial situation in these undemocratic times.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dear Kevin Page,

I like you. All too often bureaucrats don't get the thanks they deserve. Thanks! I'll be following your budget reports closely.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh, dear me

I truly wanted the charity piece to be at the forefront of the blog for a few days, but not enough to stay silent on the prorogation nonsense.

Nik Nannos claims that this issue won't have a "significant influence on voting behaviour". He hasn't done any surveys on the subject, apparently he doesn't need to - he's that tapped into the Canadian psyche. Impressive job, Nik.

I feel just as qualified to have a different opinion. I, too, haven't done any surveys on the subject. Who needs them? I looked on facebook and couldn't help but notice an ever growing group of dissatisfied citizens. The fantastic knitters over on Ravelry's forum Canadian Issues Debate seem genuinely PO'd, they are bandying about terms like undermining of democracy, abuse of executive power, and totalitarian government.

So who is more in touch with the zeitgeist of our nation? Time will tell.

Dear Canada,

Do you believe in government-provided social programs or in privately-funded programs? Pick one, because lately you've been doing neither and it stinks.

Successive governments, both federally and provincially, have cut taxes and programs, at your behest Canada. (Alberta, I'm looking right at you.) So you have more money in your pockets, and yet no less than the Fraser Institute is saying things like:
...the percentage of tax filers donating to charity fell in almost every Canadian province between 1997 and 2007...
You know what else they are saying?
If Canadians had given the same percentage of their aggregate income to charity as Americans had, Canada’s charities would have received an additional $10.1 billion in private donations.
Stop pretending to be the nicer version of our neighbours to the south, because baby it ain’t true. Wake up Canada you can’t have it both ways – low taxes and excellent services. It’s time to start showing some charity.

Other interesting facts:
  • A higher percentage of tax filers donated to charity in the United States (26.6%) than in Canada (24.0%) during the 2007 tax year. Similarly, Americans (at 1.60%) gave a higher percentage of their aggregate income to charity than did Canadians, (at 0.73%).
  • The Fraser Institute calls this a substantial generosity gap.
  • This generosity gap undoubtedly limits the power and potential of charities to improve the quality of life in Canada.
  • US numbers are actually larger than the stats above, because American tax law is such that some people may donate to registered charities but not be able to claim those donations on their taxes.
*All quotes are from here.