Sunday, December 31, 2006

What is the Next Big Issue?

What is the one issue that really is at the forefront of the Canadian voter's consciousness? Are we most concerned about global warming, the environment in general, health care, terrorism, government accountability or any of a myriad of other possibilities?

Here's what we should all be focusing on the most - Truth in the media.

If we can't trust MSM to deliver the facts, then we have no way to assess the other critical issues.

Lorrie Goldstein's column in today's Toronto Sun gives an excellent example of how the largely Liberal-controlled media and party pundits have been sugar-coating the real story to lull us all into believing that Stephane Dion was the champion of Kyoto:

Dion's website (stephane boasts that "at the follow-up to the Kyoto Conference on Climate Change in Montreal in December 2005, he won international agreement to extend the Kyoto protocol beyond 2012."

Right. Well, here's a more realistic assessment of what actually went on in Montreal, written by Kyoto expert Robert Henson in his new book, The Rough Guide to Climate Change, The Symptoms, The Science, The Solutions.

Henson, no global warming sceptic -- his book has been praised as "superb ... even-handed and accessible" by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change -- assesses that meeting in this way:

"In the end, the diplomats managed to eke out an agreement for a two-year round of non-binding talks under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) that 'will not open any negotiations leading to new commitments' (as the official wording says) but could set the stage for future talks. In this light, it's not at all certain that Kyoto-like targets will prevail after 2012."

Gee. Guess Dion and Co. didn't save the world, eh?

Goldstein goes on to point out how the U.S. which never ratified Kyoto, has actually done better than Canada regarding the lowering of greenhouse gas emissions:

The "evil" U.S., which never ratified Kyoto, finished five places better than we did.

And while the U.S. is the world's biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (20.6% in 2000, compared to our 2.1% , which put us in ninth place) when you break the numbers down on a comparative basis, we, uh, stink.

Based on emissions per capita in 2000, we were the seventh-worst offender, at 6.3 tonnes of carbon equivalent per person, barely one place better than the U.S., at 6.8.

On the basis of carbon intensity, we were the 10th worst offender at 172 tonnes of carbon emitted per million dollars in GDP, one position worse than the U.S., at 162.

Indeed, you have to wonder what former Liberal PM Paul Martin was smoking when he raced to that Montreal conference last year during the federal election and scolded the U.S. for lacking a "global conscience" on climate change.

Of course this type of blatant manipulation of the truth (aka propaganda) runs the gamut of hot-button issues. Stephen Taylor exposed CBC bias recently with the Christina Lawand fiasco.

Then there was the Reuters-Beirut-photoshop scandal that proves this type of deceit is not limited to the Canadian media.

So wake up from your complacent belief that what you see in MSM is the truth. This is the 'big issue' folks! The rest follows from it.

* * * *

Update: Looks like I wasn't the only one impressed with Lorrie Goldstein's Sunday column - Check out Dark Blue Tory "Some People Would Vote Liberal No Matter What".

Tuesday Update: The Toronto Sun names 3 top priorities: Wait times, Afghanistan and the environment (beyond Kyoto) - Promises to Keep.

* * * *

New York Times caught telling a whopper - H/T to Suzanne at Big Blue Wave.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Fisking Red Tory

I am taking a brief break from my reading to critique a recent post by Red Tory (By Request: Fisking Goldstein). According to Wikipedia, fisking is "a point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. "

Well, Red Tory may have failed on a few of those points. I'll let you decide which ones.

I do not intend to drone on point-by-point, mainly because I want to get back to Paul Wells' excellent book Right Side Up, but Red raised a few issues that need to be challenged.

First of all, RT questions Goldstein's premise that Liberals look for convenient issues to flog as a major crisis. To me, that is the essence of politics. They all do it to a certain degree. It's not necessarily a flattering attribute of the métier, but to say that the Liberal party categorically abstains from publicizing contemporary issues that may seem to play to their advantage is both ludicrous and disingenuous.

Then Red seems to be suggesting that Lorrie ignored the fact that wait times have not been reduced:

"It’s also interesting to note that during the last election Harper said his proposals and patient guarantee would stay within the budget established by the Liberals, yet he vowed to reduce wait times for medical procedures as one of his infamous “five priorities.” But uh-oh, that one seems to have quite mysteriously vanished over the course of the past year..."

But in fact, Mr. Goldstein did indeed point this out:

"Which brings us back to wait times, a problem the Liberals say Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn't doing anything about, even though it was one of his five key election promises. True."

So he did acknowledge that.

Red took exception to this statement from Lorrie's editorial:

More on that in a bit, but first, back to global warming. While the Tory government is doing nothing about it now, the Liberals did, uh, nothing, about it for 12 years. But I know global warming is important because Dion named his dog “Kyoto” and gave out green scarves at the Liberal leadership convention.

Red practically called Goldstein a liar in response:

"This is a flat-out lie... Everyone agrees that the Liberal track record on the environment has been a disappointment, but to say they did “nothing” is totally inaccurate."

Well, here's the thing, Red. Let's define what is "doing something". Is it throwing piles of money at something with no measurable results and no accountability? Is it lining Rick Mercer's pocket while we watch him drone on with his annoying diatribe about the "One Ton Challenge"? Is it talking just for the sake of appearing to be "doing something?"

In any event, perhaps Red Tory could cite evidence of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions going down during the Liberals' 12-year tenure in office? In fact, they kept going up dramatically, both before and after they signed Kyoto at almost twice the growth rate in the U.S. during the same period.

Red also seems to be hopelessly gullible when it comes to any Liberal communications. He actually believes the wait-times propaganda that spews out of Queen's Park:

"Uh, uh, since August/September 2005, wait times have decreased by: 27.7% (86 days) for cataract surgery; 19.8% (87 days) for knee replacement; 19.9% (70 days) for hip replacement; 39.3% (22 days) for angiography; 13.3% (16 days) for MRI scans; 17.9% (5 days) for angioplasty; and 2.5% (2 days) for CT scans. Nice try Lorrie."

(Uh huh. And I've got a great piece of swamp land to sell you, Red. Just let me get my pal George Smitherman to be the broker.)

At least Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter hasn't been hoodwinked. He questioned the methods used by the province to measure reductions in hospital wait times and said the statistics should be taken with a "grain of salt.''

But in any case, Red. Carry on. Never let facts get in the way of a good rant.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Anniversary to Moi

Today is the One-Year Anniversary of Joanne's Journey. I am trying to remember what drove me to begin this journal, but there are a few clues in my early entries.

First was my frustration with the previous government. I needed a place to vent and MSM had a limit as to how many of my angry letters-to-the-editor that they were willing to publish (the previous year I had managed to have about 35 published in various newspapers including the Post, Globe, Sun, Star and others).

Also, we were gearing up for the final leg of the election race. CTV had a terrific political blog going and I was a prolific contributor. I believe it was David Akin who casually suggested that I start my own blog; perhaps as a way to get a break from his Blackberry going off every time a comment had to be approved.

All this plus my son's encouragement and assistance gave birth to this journey. I haven't regretted a moment. Along the way I've met some interesting folks and had some lively and informative debates. I've learned a lot and I hope that I've provided a useful forum for others to express their thoughts and frustrations.

And since this is a mélange of Canadian politics seasoned with a dash of real life, I have occasionally included some of my own musings on life in the moment.

Sometimes the two worlds mesh.

As my technical savvy increased, I learned to link to some of my favourite blogs, including Platty, Sara, Molar, Chuck and so many wonderful others. At this time I changed my signature to "Joanne TB" to differentiate myself from the "Liberal" Joanne, thus proving that I did not have a split personality.

March provided a few memorable highlights - notably a dispute with Garth Turner that culminated in a phone conversation where he won me over (for the moment). I'm still not sure exactly where he stands on my love-hate meter right now.

However, the most significant milestone was my Innocence Lost story where I became so enraged with MSM bias and lack of accountability that I actually contacted the reporter who had covered the infamous YWCA daycare report. The telephone interview only fueled my distrust of MSM, leaving me even more jaded and cynical.

On the plus side, that post did attract Stephen Taylor's attention. I was invited to join the Blogging Tories, which has been great fun and increased my readership substantially.

In April of this past year I signed onto Sitemeter. Since then this blog has been hit over 47,000 times with over 86,000 page views, with more than 300 posts and over 6,000 comments since March. (Some of those comments were even from people other than myself!)

In May I took a brief time-off and wandered the web for a while. I met Red Tory during a heated discussion about abortion at Calgary Grit, and stupidly invited him back to my blog to continue the debate. Life has never been the same since.

My little blog really came of age in June, when I had to learn how to deal with trolls. (This is indeed a sign that you've hit the big-time in the blogging world.)

In August I discovered some fellow MSM watchdogs, Canada Free Press and CBC Watch. (Memo to CFP: Lose the pop-up ads pul-eeze! They are so annoying!!!)

Then I started joining in various blogbursts, some of which began to take on a life of their own.

October saw another huge blogburst calling for an end to the Court Challenges Program.

In November Joanne's Journey had the dubious honour of being mocked by Bill Doskoch on his CTV political blog - another baby step on my journey to the Bloggers' Hall of Fame.

If you're still reading this sad piece of self-indulgent navel-gazing, you are either a true and loyal reader or else you just don't have a life. In either case, thank you so much for accompanying me on my journey. It would have been lonely without you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

This Time I Really Mean It

O.K. This is it. I'm going cold turkey for sure right now, or else we won't have hot turkey! (Alright, my sister is actually cooking the bird, but you get the picture).

No more political ranting for a few days. I'm not even going to discuss this.

Just going to try to preserve my sanity in the mall and grocery store one more time, then head home to get some last minute things done. Here's a tip for frantic shoppers - Bring a bottle of water and some kind of protein with you. I love those cheese string thingys. There's nothing worse than being in a huge crowd and getting dehydrated and weak. This will keep you going. A Clementine is a great energy boost too. Keep a few in the car. Oh, and don't forget the hand cleanser. Keep those germs far away!

Drop a little something in the Salvation Army kettle. That will also give you a lift.

Then go home and start counting your blessings. We tend to complain a lot (and I am probably the worse offender), but at the end of the day we have so much to be grateful for here in Canada.

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Aw, stuff it!

Ontario politicians have just voted to stuff their stockings at taxpayers' expense. The Star is the first MSM site to carry the story, which we all knew was inevitable anyway given John Tory's complicity.

The fact that this was pushed through in spite of indignant public reaction tells me that politicians believe that all will be forgiven and forgotten come the next election which is less than a year away.

How will we register our anger and frustration?

Update: CBC - Grits, Tories Unite to Pass Major Pay Hike. Is Dalton really worth $198,620???

FRIDAY UPDATE: I knew the Toronto Sun wouldn't let me down - McGuinty? Tory? Humbug!

The editorial quotes Oliver Cromwell:

"You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately ... Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

Time for a mutiny, folks!

Carry on, Judy!

Judy Rebick's scathing withdrawal of support for Elizabeth May, may have in advertently fueled credibility for the very side of the abortion debate she so fiercely detests and whose voice she works so hard to obliterate from the public forum.

Elizabeth May was asked to comment on abortion and gay marriage at a convent during the federal by-election. Instead of spouting off some evasive political platitude, she shared some very candid and profound thoughts in a respectful manner (as I see it anyway):

But I think there's been a moral dimension to this debate that's quite complex, and I think deserves respect. So I respect people who say, "I'm against abortion because there is a right to life, and the fetus is sacred." ...So I see it as a moral dilemma, and I don't see it as a clear-cut black-and-white... And I think one of the things that I would like to bring to Canadian politics is to show enough respect to the other view, that we could actually have a dialogue about it. Because one of the things that is wrong about polarization is the language becomes a barrier to understanding... So if one group of people say, "A woman has a right to choose", I get queasy, because I'm against abortion. I don't think a woman has a frivolous right to choose. What I don't want is a desperate woman to die in an illegal abortion. But I also don't think it's right to say - Well, you see, you end up having this conflict... What I'd like to do in politics - and I've talked about this in some other settings besides here today, because this is the first time it's come up in London North Centre - what I'd like to do in politics is to be able to create the space to say, "Abortions are legal because they must be to avoid women dying. But nobody in their right mind is for abortions." ...So can't we then have a different kind of conversation? What kind of programs and strategies do we need to have to reduce the number of legal abortions that take place? Instead of having this rather polarized and, you know, really, futile debate that only fuels divisions and makes both sides feel as though they're, you know, in some form of battle.

What I take from this, is that while Elizabeth May is personally against abortion, she sees it as necessary to have the choice for the reason of safety. Therefore she is respecting both sides and looking for some kind of strategy to reduce the number of abortions in general. When she says that no one in their right mind is for abortions, I think she means that no sane person would get their jollies out of killing an unborn child (hopefully).

For some reason all of this offended Ms. Rebick in the extreme:

There is no middle ground on the abortion issue as you are no doubt finding out. The organized opposition to abortion in this country as in the United States does not care if women die... I personally have debated right-to-lifers for 30 years. There is no dialogue here. They put the life of a foetus above the rights and even the lives of women. Whether or not you agree with this, by raising the issue in the way that you did, you contribute to their position... We had a debate on abortion in this country for decades. Raising the need for further debate as you have done is a serious error in judgment and in the unlikely possibility that Stephen Harper wins a majority in the next election, you could have done irreparable harm.

'Right-to-lifers' don't care if women die? Again, most sane people care about all life. There may be a very few extremists who might think that the life of the preborn child usurps all other life, but my guess is that most reasonable Canadians are somewhere in the middle on this issue.

And what is wrong with discussion in an open and free society?

By putting down such a calm, logical and thoughtful point of view such as that which Elizabeth May put forward, Judy Rebick has cast herself as a vengeful, uncompromising extremist which does her side of the debate no service at all.

My hunch is that Canadians would like to have the kind of discussion that Ms. May proposes, and Judy Rebick may have unwittingly contributed to that process.

Please share more of your outrage
, Ms. Rebick.

* * * *

Oh, Judy. You really blew it. Kate's picked this up now!! With her readership, this is not going away anytime soon.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bah, Humbug!

With the mild weather this year, I'm finding it very difficult to get into the Christmas spirit, and the antics at Queen's Park are not helping.

The Toronto Sun's Christina Blizzard mirrors my contempt for all provincial parties with this sudden and urgent need to ram through a 25% pay hike before Christmas. The holier-than-thou NDP is fighting it and some say they will donate the money to charity - for now, but I don't see anyone refusing it outright.

I did get a chuckle from the main editorial though, The Star's Bizarre Backflip.

Actually, we wondered about the Star's incredible flip-flop on this issue as well. But we just put it down to the fact no one reads Star editorials -- apparently including the people who write them.


Now if I put on some Christmas music, perhaps I can psych myself up to do a little gift-wrapping.

U.S. Hospital Respects Refusal on Moral Grounds

This is a good-news story for anyone concerned about Freedom of Conscience regarding forced participation in abortion procedures.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Native Claim Redux

Perhaps this is too simplistic, but I think the "two-tier justice" complaints and land disputes might be reduced to one basic premise - Natives do not see themselves required to obey Canadian law.

And that may be too much of a generalization. Perhaps it depends on whether the band follows the traditional council or the elected one. I could be totally out to lunch here and therefore invite input. However if that were true then perhaps I could begin to understand why Canadian police sit back and do nothing. It would start to make some kind of sense.

Trevor Miller has been in jail since August when he was arrested for assaulting two members of a television crew.

"He is being held as a hostage, a political prisoner," protester Pat Houlley told the Canadian Press, arguing Miller should never have been charged, because as an aboriginal he shouldn't be subject to Canadian law. "We've never abandoned our traditional government nor been conquered by any war."

Is this how all aboriginals feel? That they are apart from Canadian law and Canadian society?

Meanwhile natives in Caledonia deny involvement in the trashing of a house near Douglas Creek Estates.

But the Ontario government is not stupid. With an election coming, and while attempting to give MPP's a 25% raise, they must be seen to be doing something for the Caledonia residents.

How much money will it take to buy a whole town?

* * * *

Dust My Broom - Above the law in Caledonia.

Update: Family dog injured at trashed house - according to Toby Barrett at Queen's Park.

The Continuing Saga of Ezra, Warren and Citoyen Dion

There is a battle being waged on the opinion pages of the National Post and the stakes are high.

It started last week with Warren Kinsella's Dec. 14 editorial The Viral Campaign against Stephane Dion. According to Kinsella, lyrically-challenged Tory bloggers are ultimately responsible for the 'smear', but it all started with Ezra Levant:

My friend Ezra Levant, a long-time conservative (and Conservative) activist, revealed the "news." Wrote he in the Calgary Sun: "When it comes to making decisions about the war on terror, and Canada's role in Afghanistan, will Dion be unduly influenced by France, a country that has taken up the role of lawyer and arms dealer for every terrorist state in the world, even defending Saddam Hussein until the eve of his overthrow?"

Then another "friend", Pierre Bourque picked up the story and ran it for a while on Bourque Newswatch, which apparently inspired Conservative bloggers (who are supposedly so unpatriotic as to not even know the words to 'O Canada') to cover the story with such unrelenting force that MSM was cowered into running the story and demanded a response from Citoyen Dion.

First of all I have to say that if all these guys are "friends", I'd hate to see their enemies!

But anyway, today we have a response by Ezra Levant in the Post, "Dion's citizenship was real news".

Levant's position is that he was merely pointed out facts whereas Kinsella has been known to do a little 'smearing' himself, and should therefore get off his high horse:

In his book, Warren described his own TV appearance during the 2000 election -- where he mocked Stockwell Day's purported belief in creationism by holding up a stuffed dinosaur -- as his crowning political moment. How can distorting and ridiculing Day's Christianity be acceptable, but pointing out the incontrovertible fact of Dion's foreign citizenship be beyond the pale?

Did Warren Kinsella ever consider the remote possibility that he himself is responsible for perpetuating the unwanted media focus?

BTW, I think Mr. Kinsella owes all Blogging Tories a personal recital of "O Canada" - by heart.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Brother's ashes in cottage

Hope Bay tenants are anxious about getting their possessions out of their cottages that had been built on land leased from the federal government and now deemed to be native land.

Stephen Gibbs is concerned about retrieving his brother's ashes from the fireplace mantel.

Cottagers will be escorted in and out by natives with videocameras, and will have to leave the structures and fixtures behind.

Is the Liberal party discriminating against women?

Iggy has been tapped as Liberal deputy leader.

Sorry, Karen!

But as Canadian Christian Conservative says, this is an Early Gift to the Tories.

Update: Prairie Wrangler: Dion to promote women, starting wait... now

* * * *

From Tuesday Globe: "...By choosing Mr. Ignatieff, Mr. Dion goes against the politically correct fit, which would have been to put an anglophone woman in the role. Interestingly, Opposition Whip Karen Redman inadvertently sent an e-mail last Friday saying she had not got the deputy role and what should she ask for. The e-mail was meant for one of her children but instead ended up in the inboxes of Conservative senators."

So, she already knew on Friday that the job was filled, and was looking for something else to lobby for. That would explain the message title, What Comes Next?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Did John Tory blow it?

According to the Toronto Sun, he did.

I don't see much difference between the Ontario Liberals and Conservatives right now, and I could never vote NDP.

Green Party? Nah.

So who is the least horrible of all the choices? I suppose that's who I'll be voting for. *Sigh*

Tuesday Update: Debate rages on about who exactly is the Grinch - Hampton Opts for Charity (Sun).

Harper - Time's Choice for Cdn Newsmaker of the Year

Via National Newswatch - Time magazine has named Stephen Harper as Canadian Newsmaker of 2006!

I like this part:

The magazine says, "If Harper wins the majority he craves, in the election expected sometime next year, he may yet turn out to be the most transformational leader since Trudeau.''

Mmm... O.K. Maybe that could be taken has something other than a compliment, but I do think he will take up more than a paragraph in the history books!

(And they said he could never pull it off. Ha! So there.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Peace on earth

OPP arrested Gary McHale today.

Update: McHale may be forced to stay away from Caledonia.

SDA picks up on the story: Wrong Permit.
(Warning - Comments are colourful)

Halls of Macadamia: So Much for the Law of the Land.

Monday Update: From the Hamilton Spectator: Vandals wreck House in Caledonia!

570 News: Hope Bay Cottage Owners forced out.

Also from 570 - Natives demand release of SN protester; call him political prisoner.

Friday, December 15, 2006

An Unexpected Christmas Gift

Via Greg Staples - Karen Redman slips up with email.

It would appear that she is looking for the Deputy Leader's job, but instead of sending the message to her daughter for advice, it was accidentally forwarded to all federal senators!

Well, we all make mistakes. The only problem is that if you're Deputy Leader, this kind of gaffe could have serious consequences.

Well, here in Liberal-dominated Southern Ontario, we haven't had a Cabinet Minister at either the federal or provincial level for ages, so we'll take any little bone that our thrown our way; even if it's just deputy leader of the opposition.

But first Ms. Redman should check with her colleague Mr. Brison about the perils of Blackberry carelessness.

Update: Step to the Right has also picked this up.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

If I were really blogging

If I were actually planning to do some kind of post today, instead of sticking to my Christmas to-do list, it would be difficult to select just one topic.

For example, there is the buzz about a possible Cabinet shuffle - always great political fodder for those who love to speculate. Rona Ambrose is unlikely to retain her Environment portfolio if that happens. Who will get the nod to replace her?

Then there's Warren Kinsella's amusing little column in today's Post, "The Viral Campaign against Stephane Dion". I just wouldn't know where to begin with this one. According to Mr. Kinsella, it seems that the lyrically-challenged Conservative bloggers have the awesome power to control MSM:

Conservative bloggers -- most of whom couldn't be counted upon to recite the lyrics of O Canada without professional help -- then took up the refrain, regurgitating the anti- Dion talking points with glee.

At that point, the so-called mainstream media had no option but to cover the story, and force Dion to respond.

Did you hear that Canada? We control the press! Merry Christmas Stephen Harper!!! That little tidbit will serve him well in the next election.

What else? Oh yeah! A glimpse into the rationale behind Dalton McGuinty's 25% raise hike just before Christmas:

Sources told CanWest News Service, however, that Mr. McGuinty's change of heart came after Liberal caucus members revolted and demanded a salary hike in keeping with the latest recommendations of the province's integrity commissioner, which reviews MPP's remuneration.

Don't you just love the altruistic dedication and integrity of Ontario politicians?

Of course, I'm not really doing a post here today. Just thinking out loud. Thanks for listening.

* * * *

The Warren Kinsella story has taken some interesting twists. Norman Spector seems to be calling our friend Warren the "cancer in Canadian journalism (and politics)".

OK, now. That may be a tad harsh.

Update: Political correctness rears its ugly head again re: Christmas Trees.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

QP Shenanigans

I've been taking a time-out from my Christmas preparations to tune in to today's Question Period. Maybe it's the pre-holiday excitement, but things seem a little more chaotic than usual.

The talking points for this hour seem to be "this mean-spirited minority government" and this "mean-spirited fragile government" and any relevant comparisons to Scrooge.

Then we have references to the "Minister of Cuts", and so forth. This is a Hansard must-have for that political junkie on your shopping list!

Towards the end, PM Stephen Harper said something to the effect that he had been listening to this Question Period and the prevailing theme from the Liberals seemed to be "You broke our promises"!!!


The Liberals' answer to any problem is to just throw money at it. No accountability. No concern if the money will actually produce any results. Just worry about optics.

Barbara Kay has a great column in today's National Post relating to the Court Challenges Program (The Perils of Premature Adjudication). Brilliant and well worth the read.

Now back to the gift-wrapping.

* * * *

Hansard is up now. Check out the catfight between Carolyn Bennett and Bev Oda at (1455).

Harper's zinger is at (1500).

O.K. Kiddies. School's out!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Shopping Tip

Well, my house is looking somewhat more festive. Now it's time to finish up the Christmas shopping & wrapping.

The problem is that I can't remember what I already bought for whom and where I might have stashed it.

Then voilà, a solution miraculously appears on the front page of this morning's Record ("Just Hear those Sales a-Ringing"). A reporter at a local mall interviewed the most organized shopper that I've ever heard of:

Michelle Bradshaw has a holiday shopping list as organized as Santa's.

It's computer-printed with a pair of columns that lets her keep track of what she's bought for whom.

On the left, she's listed the friends and family members she's shopping for and printed the items she's already bought for them under their names.

To the right of each name, she's typed some potential gifts and reserved space for pencilling in spontaneous gift ideas while shopping...

This is awesome! I'm going to give it a try. If anyone else has any tips to get organized for Christmas, please share.

I have one tip for decorating: What you put up, must come down. Therefore be a minimalist.

* * * *

UPDATE: Well I see that Ontario MPP's have voted to give themselves a tidy Christmas present at the expense of the taxpayer. It just gets worse and worse. The Ontario NDP seems to be the only party left with any integrity. But will they accept the raise?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Doomed to failure

The Government's motion to reopen the same-sex marriage debate will fail today. That is a certainty.

Some of those who support the traditional definition of marriage feel betrayed:

"I think there's going to be a lot of confusion and, when the smoke clears, a resentful attitude as well,'' said Mary Ellen Douglas of the Campaign Life Coalition, a socially conservative anti-abortion group.

Douglas said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has robbed voters of a fair chance to revisit same-sex marriage, which was legalized last year.

''It doesn't help anything,'' she said of a Conservative motion debated Wednesday that has little chance of passing when it goes to a vote Thursday.

After listening to some of the debate last night, I saw that the wording of the motion left some wiggle room for Liberal MP's who previously supported traditional marriage to decide to vote against the motion due to ambiguity and concerns of how "Charter-proof" the whole exercise would be anyway.

Some Liberal MP's such as John McKay will be supporting the government motion although he criticized the way the whole thing has been handled. Others such as Paul Szabo said they might have supported it if the motion was worded only to "re-open the debate" and nothing more.

So I suppose the question is, was the wording of the motion deliberately designed to engineer its own defeat and thus fulfill an election promise that the government hopes will quickly fade away from the public eye?

Personally, I don't feel that this has been a waste of time. There were some eloquent speeches given last night. I am still trying to access them on Hansard.

Harold Albrecht's was especially illuminating. He has a strong mandate from his constituents to preserve traditional marriage and delivered this message with passion. In an article in today's Record ("Same Marriage Debate; Same Stance"), he also exposes the way democracy was thwarted by the past government:

"I have received over 1,000 letters and e-mails and phone calls and overwhelming support for the traditional definition of marriage," he said.

In a speech in the Commons last night, he accused the previous Liberal government of rushing the same-sex marriage bill into law before the voices of Canadians were heard. He pointed to the committee on justice and human rights, which conducted hearings across Canada, but never presented a report of its findings to Parliament.

"I don't feel there was adequate closer of all the studies that were undertaken," Albrecht said.

He called the hearings "nothing more than a sham," which deceived Canadians into thinking they were part of the debate.

Has democracy been served now? I'm not sure. I do think we still need to examine the repercussions of Bill C-38 with respect to decisions of conscience concerning marriage commissioners in the West who are not public employees.

I also think we need to think about how early and how graphically we as parents want our children to be taught the facts of gay life in schools - if we still have a choice.

* * * *

UPDATE: Well, I don't have to tell you how this story ended, but some people seem to be looking for my reaction.

I am breathing a sigh of relief. This is closure. Dark Blue Tory mirrors my thoughts. "It's a done deal". Let's move on.

AG Report Elicits Strong Warning from McGuinty

Courtesy of the Toronto Sun, Premier Dalton McGuinty has delivered another strong statement of discontent regarding public sector misuse of taxpayer money:

You will be found out!

Oh boy! I bet that has them shaking in their boots! About as much as the Caledonia protestors who were told in response to their request for donations of firewood and supplies, that continuing the occupation "in some kind of permanent way, through the winter for example — that is not acceptable to us"

This guy knows how to be tough.

In fact, I heard that if any Ontario public employee dares take a winter vacation on the taxpayer, Dalton won't even supply the sunscreen anymore!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Something Stinks in the Senate

Why has the unelected Liberal Senate been stalling the Accountability Act?

Defend Canada
found a juicy tidbit in the Globe ("Candidates Could get Loan Relief") which may have the answer. Kitchener Conservative has also linked to it. The NDP's Ethics critic, Pat Martin is all over this one.

Now what would motivate the Liberal Senate to pass a bill which hurts their own party? They would need a LOT of public pressure, and even then one wonders how long this could be held up. Where are the checks and balances here?

Senate reform is looking better all the time.

Is he or isn't he?

There are a lot of conflicting reports in MSM this morning regarding how close Stephane Dion is to allowing each member of his Liberal caucus to vote his or her conscience in the upcoming government motion.

National Newswatch is carrying a link to a Star article: "Liberals Will Have Free Vote on Gay Marriage".

Andrew Coyne's National Post editorial is also highlighted. He endorses a true free vote, even though he is a self-proclaimed "long-time supporter of gay marriage"

...I was for gay marriage before gays were -- I'd say the Lifesite version of events was closer to the mark. Parliament is entitled to decide any matter it pleases; on "divisive" issues, it is more or less obliged to. (The Star's "spectrum" would presumably exclude the 38% of Canadians who told a Strategic Counsel poll this week they want the law permitting gay marriage scrapped in favour of the traditional definition.)

(Golly gee! A supporter of SSM who still thinks that Lifesite is a credible source of information! Who knew?)

..But the Supreme Court, whose views on that score count rather more than either of ours, has yet to decide the issue -- in fact, it pointedly refused to do so when asked -- and while it is highly likely the court would rule any attempt to restore the traditional definition of marriage was a violation of the Charter, until they do so no one can say with certainty.

...Putting the matter to a truly free vote would send an important signal: that the 40% or so of my fellow Canadians who do not feel the same way as I and my liberal friends do about gay marriage are not pariahs or bigots, but on the whole are decent people with legitimate concerns that are entitled to be represented in Parliament.

Thank you Mr. Coyne for that bit of non-partisan sanity.

I truly do believe that an actual free vote could satisfy the concerns of many Canadians that democracy was somehow circumvented by Paul Martin. I don't expect the motion to pass, but at least the "people" will have had some kind of representation in this debate.

On a personal level, I feel that anything that strengthens the family unit is a positive step. Whether or not gay marriage will do that remains to be see. Certainly monogamy is preferable to promiscuity.

From a purely strategic POV, Stephane Dion would be wise to listen to the voices of cultural minorities in Toronto. He may lose their support if he doesn't allow a free vote.

Update: He is!! Dion to Allow Liberals Free Vote!

Further Update: Conservative M.P. Harold Albrecht just gave an awesome speech tonight! I wish he was my M.P.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What is marriage?

O.K. This is your fair warning to turn the channel if you don't want your blood pressure to rise. I guarantee that the following remarks are going to get the PC crowd gnashing their teeth.

Red Tory is puzzling over "That Marriage Thingee". He maintains that:

The fact of the matter is that it’s a crass means of splitting property and dividing assets and its legacy only extends a scant few hundred years back to Medieval times. There’s absolutely nothing sacred about it at all whatsoever.

I asked him:

"If marriage is indeed just a contract, and a crass means of splitting property and dividing assets, why is the term "civil union" not good enough, when it would confer the same legal advantages?"

But I already know the answer to that. It would not help the gay activists to "normalize" homosexuality in society in general, which is after all the real issue - not marriage and not human rights.

Personally, I would like to see the words "civil union" applied to all legal civil commitments rather than the word "marriage" - straight or gay or whatever. Although adoption concerns are still problematic for some folks, I believe that the 'M-word' is still the main source of friction. Perhaps we could finally put this baby to bed if we made a semantic change.

What did you just say? Words don't carry meaning? Think "Nation" and then tell me that again.

Couples could get their civil union duly recognized by whatever secular means the State defines, and then opt for a religious ceremony in their own church afterwards if that is their wish.

Why wouldn't that work? I think it would be a great compromise, and then just maybe we could get on with other things.

Let's get the nation's bedrooms out of the business of the State. Right, Pierre?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Canadian Flags not allowed near DCE

Could somebody please explain to me why Canadian flags are not allowed to be hung within a kilometre and a half from the Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia?

Is that not part of Canada? Maybe I missed something. Are the Douglas Creek Estates their own Nation now too?

It sure is hard to keep up with the news.

Same-sex marriage vote coming

Well here it is, folks! My long-awaited post re: SSM. (Yeah, I know you've all been staying up at nights anticipating this...)

The motion will read as follows:

"That this house call on the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions, and while respecting existing same sex marriages."

I have several problems with the wording, but here is my first question. Just how "free" will this vote be? Will Stephane Dion totally whip his caucus into submission?

Already one Liberal, Ontario MP John McKay, said he would defy that directive:

"Kick me out of the caucus, go ahead," challenged Liberal MP John McKay. "If the Liberal leader decides that's a good idea ... That will be the first issue of which he and I will have a falling out."

Will any of his like-minded Liberal MP colleagues join him?

Mr. Wappel? Mr. Karygiannis? Mr. McTeague? Mr. Steckle? Mr. Szabo?

What this all boils down to is the following: Is this an issue of Rights or Conscience/Religion?

Also, we still have this murky area about Marriage Commissioners. Should they be allowed to abstain from performing a same-sex marriage due to religious conflicts or not?

These are the questions that are on my mind today.

UPDATE: Great interview on Mike Duffy tonight with Liberal MP John McKay asking that all party leaders allow a true free vote. He feels that this would bring closure to the issue. Conservative MP Gerald Keddy supports SSM, and seemed less enthusiastic about an all-party free vote although he seemed grateful that Stephen Harper was allowing him to vote his conscience. Both MP's feel that there is debate fatigue with this issue, and would like to move on.

* * * *

For more on the other Scary Steve, check out Halls of Macadamia!

True North
- "Dion ready to force caucus..."

* * * *

Tuesday Update: CTV - John McKay speaks out:

"The grievance of those who support the traditional definition of marriage is the previous two governments have whipped their cabinet, which means the vote in the House has been something less than entirely free."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Top Ten Reasons Why I'm Ecstatic that Dion Won!

I'm still smiling this morning. Here's why:

#10. Stéphane Dion is a worthy opponent for Stephen Harper. Anyone else would have been a cake-walk. Today's Sun Editorial warns the CPC not to underestimate M. Dion. This will work in favour of the Conservatives in the long run, because complacency and over-confidence are the enemies of a successful election campaign.

#9. Although Bob Rae had an abysmal record as the NDP Premier of Ontario, he might have garnered enough misguided support between Liberal Lemmings and soft NDP voters to win the next election. And that would have been the end of Canada's economy. In a word, whew!!

#8. Dion's anglais is worse than Harper's français. (but Chretien still is the champ of that contest).

#7. Western separation threats will not be diffused by Dion. This is good for the CPC because it allows Harper to pander to Quebec to a certain extent. Dion could never get away with that.

#6. Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même. Dion was there all the time under Chretien's and Martin's Regimes of Entitlement. So this is the Liberal Party starting fresh?

#5. The Star had endorsed Bob Rae and then Red Tory did too. (My glee requires no explanation if you are a regular reader here.)

#4. If Dion actually does become PM it would not necessarily be the end of the world ( ergo - Win-Win). The thought of a Harvard egghead trying to run Canada would have been a disaster; as would have dippy Bob Rae. Gerard Kennedy? Well maybe after he starts shaving.

#3. Unless Stéphane is talking about smog, the word "clarity" holds little significance anywhere west of Montreal.

#2. Stéphane Dion has nothing to be proud of regarding the fact that Greenhouse Gas Emissions went up 35% under his watch as Environment Minister. Therefore I fully expect David McGuinty to ask the following question in the H. of C. next time the Kyoto issue comes up: "Stéphane - What about your dog?"

And the Number One reason why I'm ecstatic that Stéphane Dion is the new Liberal leader:

Bush will have someone else to call "Steve"!


I am so happy that Stephane Dion is the new leader of the Liberal party.

I will count the ways demain! Right now, party on!!!

Last Minute Pitch re: Rae

To any supporters of Bob Rae: Please read this!

UPDATE: It looks like the Liberal delegates were listening. Whew!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Am I the only one that can't find anything to watch tonight?

No slight intended to my fellow Blogging Tories, but here's the thing. I tried to watch the Liberal Leadership convention. I really did try. Each time I lasted maybe about five minutes before I had to run for the bathroom.

They're all waxing eloquent on the various candidates, and I'm still trying to retain a few grams of my dinner.

Right now, all I can count on is Earl Grey decaf.

The Legacy of Caledonia

The mismanagement of the Caledonia claim has prompted local governments up the river to change their tactics. Traditional as well as elected councils will consulted for project plans involving aboriginal claims.

Several provincial and regional transportation projects are being stalled due to the Six Nations claim to the bed and banks of the Grand River.

Regional government has obviously learned some lessons from Caledonia. The Record reports that "Politicians hope consultations will help prevent an aboriginal land standoff from erupting here."

If these talks progress as slowly as they are in Caledonia, those bridge and highway plans may very well become obsolete before they are approved.