The co-operative ghost that haunts Saskatchewan
The death of the Wheat Pool
The advent of agri-business
The death of the Wheat Board
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The only think to do now is sit back and see who Al Gore and John Edwards endorses. However, it looks like Edwards may not endorse anyone:
He does not plan to endorse any presidential candidate in the near future, advisers said.
Advisers say he worries that Obama isn't ready to be president and that Hillary Clinton represents too much the old way of doing business... and both concerns weigh heavily.
Perhaps, like Gore, he may do more good out of politics than in.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
What exactly does Bjornerud expect the state of farm income to be without the Wheat Board? In good years, farmers will profit. When there is a high value or a shortage in the U.S. for barley or wheat, farmers close to the borders will profit. On an average year or worse, farmers will suffer. The Wheat Board using its collective strength is able to obtain a better price for commodities than individual farmers would generally be able. While some farmers may profit, the general farming population will be less well off and it will be that much harder to survive by farming. The New Saskatchewan Party government is keen to promote Saskatchewan as being a resource economy as opposed to being an agricultural based economy. They even wanted to do away with the wheat sheaf, a symbol of Saskatchewan agricultural history. Agriculture remains an important part of the Saskatchewan economy, and an even more important part of the Saskatchewan psyche. Moving to dismantle the Wheat Board is just another step towards dismantling Saskatchewan’s agricultural economy.
Furthermore, what is Bjornerud doing in Ottawa engaging in conversations about the future of the Wheat Board’s barley marketing mandate when the Conservatives are appealing a court decision that blocked their previous attempt to stop the Wheat Board from marketing barley? Good for Ritz to pursue a democratic change as is required of him, but it is rather silly to do so when the government is still proceeding with an appeal. It is nice that Ritz has the agri-business sector on board, i.e. those who will benefit, but it is interesting that they did invite the National Farmers Union, one of the organizations that took the government to court on this issue.
For the past several months, the Canadian political blogosphere has been awash in progressives bashing each other. Watching Progressive Bloggers has become a sport to see which blogger throws the first e-punch. Liblogs take any opportunity to bash the NDP, while complaining that the NDP is always smearing the Liberals good name and not attacking the Tories. Blogging NDPers slam Liberal MPs for sitting on their hands, liblogs for being unfair to the NDP and the Green Party for being alive. The Green Party supporters make no secret about their desire to see the Green Party supplant the NDP as the fourth party in Canadian politics. This is not really surprising as partisan bloggers fulfill the function of being part-cheerleader, part-pit-bull, part-critic for their respective corners.
Liberals are not accustomed to being in opposition. They regard the NDP paternalistically, viewing NDP votes as potential Liberal votes while still grappling with the reasons why the NDP would be willing to force the last election. With their support stagnating, they must worry about votes sifting off to the NDP and the Tories.
The NDP smells Liberal blood, and they would like nothing better than to supplant the Liberals as the Official Opposition. They still face questions about their relevancy and they have to work hard just to maintain their support at 17% while looking over their shoulders at the Liberals and the Greens. The Liberals always prove a slippery target because they wield the trump card of fear: if you don’t vote Liberal, you get the Conservatives – inferring that the NDP will never form government and therefore is a waste of your vote. The Greens have picked up the support of environmentalists and the protest vote and now hold enough sway that they could harm the NDP’s chances of picking up new seats. The NDP’s strategy of ignoring the Greens has not proven wholly effective, largely due to Greens being a less-traditional partisan political vehicle.
The Greens are on the up. To a large part, this is due to the current relevance of their cause. Environmental issues are front and centre. However, as alluded to above, it is also because they sell a different message. They are not a traditional brokerage party trying to appeal to a common denominator - they are an issue-driven party. This allows them to slide around the political spectrum more fluidly than the traditional three parties. This allows them to make deals and attempt to reach across partisan lines to push their cause. The NDP may have been good at making Parliament work when the Liberals formed a minority government, but Elizabeth May has been savvy in her message of non-partisanship. Disaffected voters like her environmentally-conscious policies / work to bring down Harper stance.
Based on her messaging, the Green Party seems more of a cause than a political party. The reality is different. The party itself has been building along more traditional lines. May and the Green Party have been open in their attacks on Jack Layton and the NDP. One notable blogger and Green Party candidate has appeared to relish in these attacks and in his aspiration to replace Jack Layton. This strategy of taking on one of the greenest politicians who is leader of a party that has been a strong supporter of the green movement, is at odds with May’s messaging that everyone should work together for the benefit of the environment.
Her messaging also hides the reality that although the NDP and the Greens may share the similar goal of enacting environmentally friendly policies, their approach are quite different. The Greens want consumer taxes to create change, whereas the NDP views such taxes as hurting those with the least income and would prefer to target large polluting corporations. Not that the NDP is opposed to carbon taxes, but they view it as one small part of the larger picture. The Greens are less interested in regulating corporations, although they are not opposed to putting some limits on corporations. Beyond the environmental issues, the two parties diverge on a number of issues, perhaps most notably the NDP’s support for the union movement (which itself is not always on side with the environmental movement).
It is a healthy competition to have various political parties presenting different options for the direction of this country. The main target remains the governing Tories. On this the NDP has a solid record of voting against the Tories, while also attempting to improve legislation in the hopes of making Parliament work (e.g. the revised and now deceased Clean Air Act). At the same time the NDP attacks have been going in two different directions – at the Tories and at the Liberals. It is self-serving for the NDP to attack both of their main rivals and attempting to force an election. Chantal Hébert does an excellent job of summing up why the NDP would want to go to an election sooner. For the NDP’s part, it is refreshing to hear that they will no longer be pursuing diverging messages. The focus now is on Harper alone.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
In response to the Manley Report, May stated on the Green Party website that:
“The Manley Report fails to consider that the recommendation of more ISAF forces from a Christian/Crusader heritage will continue to fuel an insurgency that has been framed as a ‘Jihad’. This, in turn, may feed the recruitment of suicide bombers and other insurgents,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “Better human security is certainly needed in the South but it should be provided by a different cultural mix of UN countries as well as the Afghan army and police. Even if this proves challenging to accomplish, this key objective should have been included.”As Blogging a Dead Horse points out, this is taking the issue to a new low. It also calls into question Dion's judgment to enter into a coalition with May.
Last night on Mike Duffy Live, Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc distanced the party from May stating:
"We should leave Elizabeth May to talk about environmental issues [...] and we should leave foreign policy to people like Bob Rae and Mr. Dion who have thoughtful things to say."Ouch! Even their coalition partners do not want them speaking about anything but the environment. So much for the Green Party's efforts in trying to place themselves as more than a single issue party. Moreover, this set Jason Kenney up for a good retort that the Liberals entered into a coalition and they have to be willing to take responsibility for May's comments. Click here to watch the entire video.
Still, one of the alumni of the Blogging Dippers/NDO has made it to the finals, and he has done it in a big way. Uncorrected Proofs has been nominated for: Best New Blog, Best Blog Series: - A Short History of the Labour Movement in Canada and Quebec, Best Political Blog, and Best Progressive Blogs.
There are also a number of notable lefty blogs that will also be strolling down the red carpet of the CDNBAs, including: Stageleft (Best Group Blog, Best Progressive Blog), Peace, Order and Good Goverment, Eh? (Best Group Blog), Nag on the Lake (Best Humour Blog, Best Entertainment Blog), and Dawg's Blog (Best Activist Blog).
Finally, my good friend El Maggie, who writes earnestly about her 100-mile food diet of spiritualism over at Hell in a Handbasket, has made it into the finals for Best Religious Blog.
Best of luck to all.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
First off, Calvert has been an effective performer as Opposition leader. In fact, he garners more headlines now than when he was Premier. Second, by having him stay as Leader he will continue to wear any of the NDP's past faux-pas. It is traditional for new governments to blame the old government for any negative occurrence. Although Calvert has been effective in countering such efforts (e.g. the Sask. Party's failed attempt to say that the finances were not is as good of shape as they would have liked the day they took office), should any negative press come out it is best that it sticks with the out-going leader.
Thirdly, Calvert is a well-liked individual. His role now is to kick start the renewal process within the Saskatchewan NDP. Being in opposition he has more time to focus on meeting constituents and dealing party matters. Having a sound foundation will only enhance the next leader's chances of leading the NDP back to power.
Finally, the Saskatchewan Party is still in the honeymoon phase. The NDP has little to gain by attempting to regenerate their base when the Saskatchewan Party is at their most popular. The Sk. Party will burn out, especially if they continue to break their promises and the economy turns south. The NDP is best to wait a few years before seeking to renew its leadership. Two years of reconnecting with its base, then a leadership contest, will still give the new leader plenty of time to prepare for the next election.
In other Saskatchewan news:
- Eye on Saskatchewan has a story about the new Saskatchewan Party government is a kicking small independent to the curb.
- Erin Weir over at Relentlessly Progressive Economics does a good job highlighting Premier Wall's decision to actually keep one of his promises by again rejecting TILMA (although not shutting the door completely...). Not having read TILMA, does it actually do anything but limit what little powers a provincial government has over its own economy?
What I find startling is that these announcements are being published on the pages of the Montreal Gazette. In general, the Quebec media is far ahead of its counterparts in English Canada in following politics and doing the leg work on policy issues. The Gazette is no exception being a leader in the CanWest chain in terms of its political coverage. In Ottawa, you are more likely to find comments from Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar in the pages of the Globe and Mail, National Post, or Ottawa Sun than you would in the Ottawa Citizen.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Of course Dalton, as the Premier of Ontario, has power over what to tax in Ontario. However, slapping a tax on automobiles from a foreign jurisdiction makes this into a national issue. Why? Because Canada will be on the hook for any retaliation South Korea may want to take against us. If Ontario puts a duty on automobiles coming from South Korea, while not putting the same duty on automobiles coming from China, Japan, Germany or any other foreign jurisdiction with an auto plant, then South Korea is being treated unfairly and they have a right to bring an action to the World Trade Organization. As South Korea cannot sue Ontario because it is Canada that signs the international agreements, they will have to bring a claim against Canada. This means that it will be Canada's lawyers who are working to defend a loosing case. In the case of Canada loosing, South Korea can seek retaliation against Canadian products, not just Ontario. In short, it is Canada that is on the hook for the legal bills and the potential fall out. Ontario can participate in these actions, but they are not required to do so.
Why is this a losing case? I qualify my statement by saying I am not a legal expert in this matter, but it strikes me that Dalton's argument is akin to saying "well he started it". No court will side in favour of the defendant when your only argument is that, it is your belief that the other guy threw the first punch.
As Canadians love to hear about other Canadians making it big south of the border, here are the highlights:
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Ellen Page (Juno)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Best Adapted Screen Play: Sarah Polley (Away From Her)
Achievement in Directing: Jason Reitman (Juno)
Best Animated Short: "Madame Tutli-Putli" (NFB) - Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
Best Motion Picture of the Year: Juno
For the full list of nominees click here.
Normally, if I bother with it at all, I enter the Oscar pool on the day of the Oscars. This year I will throw caution to the wind and give you my odds on favourites. Be warned, I am heavily influenced by the only two nominated movies I have seen (both in the last two weeks), which are "Ratouille" and "No Country for Old Men". No Country for Old Men is a movie that I suspect will soon be taught in film courses. It is such a wonderfully dark and powerful movie with an unHollywood ending. The camera work beautifully encapsulates the setting, while the acting is superb.
Best motion picture of the year:
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) - A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
Performance by an actor in a leading role:
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Julie Christie in “Away from Her” (Lionsgate)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There” (The Weinstein Company)
Best animated feature film of the year:
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Brad Bird
Achievement in art direction:
“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Achievement in cinematography:
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roger Deakins
Achievement in costume design:
“Atonement” (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
Achievement in directing:
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Best documentary feature:
“No End in Sight” (Magnolia Pictures) - A Representational Pictures Production - Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Best documentary short subject:
“La Corona (The Crown)” - A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production - Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
Achievement in film editing:
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
Best foreign language film of the year:
“Katyń” An Akson Studio Production - Poland
Achievement in makeup:
“La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score):
“The Kite Runner” (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics) Alberto Iglesias
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):
“Falling Slowly” from “Once” (Fox Searchlight)
Best animated short film:
“Madame Tutli-Putli” (National Film Board of Canada) - A National Film Board of Canada Production - Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
Best live action short film:
“Il Supplente (The Substitute)” (Sky Cinema Italia) - A Frame by Frame Italia Production - Andrea Jublin
Achievement in sound editing:
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal) - Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
Achievement in sound mixing:
“Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro) - Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin
Achievement in visual effects:
“Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro) - Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier
“Away from Her” (Lionsgate) - Written by Sarah Polley (I confess that this prediction is only because Sarah Polley can do no wrong).
“Lars and the Real Girl” (MGM) - Written by Nancy Oliver
I noticed a few back hairs, so Spanish women would reject me, but I am probably not hairy enough for Norwegian women. I am not bald, but reserve the option to be one day, so this again rules out the Spaniards. I have some Dutch heritage which makes me cheap - which I view as a positive - but apparently this is not a positive dating characteristic. If I was required to march up to that girl at bar and strike up a conversation I would certainly feel a certain shyness creep over me, which would put me in the same lonely miserable category as the Brits. That last finding was surprising as I generally view the Brits to reflect a brash lad cultural, brazen in their attempts for sex.
All in all, sucks to be single in Europe... unless, of course, you are the President of France (any bets on whether this guy has back hair?)
This just in, apparently the Brits compensate for their shyness by spending themselves into debt on sex
Thursday, January 17, 2008
The word is out! As I was doing my daily commute to work between Windsor and Quebec City on the highspeed train, I saw men and women in suits glancing at their blackberries checking out the new New Democracts Online. The youth started to peer over their shoulders at this new site to behold. They took their iPods off, and texted their friends next to them. Soon all the kids on the train were talking about New Democrats Online.
New Democrats Online is the version 2.0 of Blogging Dippers. New Democrats Online is still in its Beta testing phase, so please check it out and provide any comments to the administrators.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
He sounds like a New Democratic (I guess that is a very Liberal thing to do). In fact, I wish some New Democratic leaders would sound that good. In a few short lines he has summarized the flaws in the Conservatives thinking: that if you cut taxes and red tape (i.e. regulations, including labour and environmental), the free market takes over and, POOF, everyone benefits. In short, the Tories don't believe that wealth should be distributed.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said this morning that Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear when he met with the premiers last Friday that Ottawa is not prepared to inject funding into specific projects.
"He told me very directly, 'look, I operate at the macro level. We'll cut taxes, offer some regional incentives, but we're not prepared to take it one step down,'" Mr. McGuinty said.
He said the two leaders have a "fundamental philosophical difference" when it comes to addressing the economic slowdown that is taking its biggest toll on a manufacturers in Ontario and Quebec.
"They think you cut taxes, sit back and allow economic fortunes to kind of play themselves out," Mr. McGuinty said. "I think we have a heavy responsibility and that responsibility is to find ways to provide supports to those who are losing their jobs and provide incentives to businesses to make additional investments to make them stronger."
I have been willing to buy into the pundits analysis that Harper is a smart fellow. As he is clearly smart, McGuinty must be less smart because nobody gives McGuinty kudos for being smart. However, the thing that McGuinty has in his corner is that he is not so ideologically driven as Harper, and he can therefore realize that are better ways of looking at the economy. McGuinty understands that he has a responsibility to workers in the auto industry to try to save their jobs. A 1% GST cut does not save jobs, but a concerted plan to assist an industry can help substantially.
Kent, thank you for the one season and the Grey Cup.
H/t to Right of Centre Ice
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
There are many other worthy blogs nominated both in the Best New Blog category and a variety of other categories that I would encourage you to take the time to peruse. I Although I do not want to promote the numerous blogs that I think are worthwhile reads, I will give a short boost to:
Best Religious Blog:
Hell in a Handbasket (also nominated for Best Personal Blog) and This is just to say
Best Progressive Blog:
The Progressive Economics Forum, Accidental Deliberations, Sean in Saskatchewan, Buckdog and Peterborough Politics
Okay, so you only get one vote, and I have boosted several. I am simply laying out a select few choices in a few selected categories. Best of luck to all nominees.
I just wanted to boost a few another blog:
Miss Vicky's Offhand Remarks is one heck of a blog and it has been nominated for Best Local Blog and Best Personal Blog. If you ever need to know what is happening at Ottawa's City Hall, the ongoings of Westboro/Hintenburg, or if you are interested in what to dress your child for Hallowe'en, then Miss Vicky is the place to be.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Birthday invites and house-warming invites now come adorned with the “P.S. no gifts, please” trademark. For birthdays I have become an unwitting adherent to the no-gift policy. I shrink from the limelight. Despite my rock star fantasies, birthdays strike me as such an odd reason to be the centre of attention. I have not done anything to merit it except to survive for another year. My survival has as much to do with Lady Luck as it does with any good sense that I may exercise. Following the no-gift policy is merely a means to dim the spotlight ever so slightly, while still permitting the excuse to gather those close to me.
Today, El Maggie suggested another rationalization of the no-gift policy – so you don’t end about with more “stuff”. This is particularly true in case of housewarmings. Plants and wines are always lovely to receive, but did you really think I would want that rose-scented pig ornament?
We could just do away with this encroaching no-gift policy if everyone was on the same page: give socks. Socks are something everyone needs and uses. They are not just “stuff” because they are practical. They do not draw unmerited attention because everyone knows that you are opening socks. The only question becomes, how cool are the socks? Even then, black socks would always be a welcomed default. For me, you cannot go wrong with argyle.
16 Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford
Some people say a man is made outta' mud
A poor man's made outta' muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong
You load sixteen tons, what do ya get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number 9 coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"
You load sixteen tons, what do ya get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Can't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line
You load sixteen tons, what do ya get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't getcha, then the left one will
You load sixteen tons, what do ya get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Despite the premiers desire to see things get done, there is no set agenda and the premiers are divided in the issue that they wish to have addressed. In fact, the only thing sure to be discussed is the American dollar and the meal. Therefore, the Prime Minister will want a menu with boldness that symbolizes who runs the show, but subtle enough to hide the absence of the agenda and the eventual absence of any results.
Having arrived from such far away destinations as Victoria, St. John's and Ottawa South, the premiers are sure to be thirsty. What better way of welcoming such dignitaries to your house but with a select offering of Big Rock beer. Cold, refreshing and coming from Alberta to give a subtle but firm hint of where the Prime Minister’s interest lay. For any teetotaller’s, chilled bottles of Dasani water, straight from the tap, will be on offer.
Having jostled Ed Stelmach about his “true” identity, the premiers and the Prime Minister will move to the dining room where they will start with a minestrone soup. This soup is a lovely hearty appetizer that will not only provide those nutrient deprived premiers with their vegetable intake, but it also ensures that they fill up on the cheap stuff instead of the main course. One never wants to spend more money on guests that you do not want to stick around than one must.
From the soup, we move on to the salad and give the premiers a chance to refresh their palate with a light mix-greens bison steak salad with a Saskatoon berry vinaigrette. This is a not too subtle nod to the Prime Minister’s new relationship with Saskatchewan that delivers the message that he expects Premier Wall to tow the line on equalization payments.
The main course offers Prime Minister Harper the opportunity to showcase his home province. Traditionally, Atlantic beef is served around Parliament Hill, but an exception will be made for tonight where the premiers will dine on the slightly less tender Alberta sirloin steaks wrap in bacon. As a side, PEI potatoes will be served mashed with a sprig of parsley. This meal is not just meat and potatoes. This meal is a demonstration of Harper’s strength and manliness. It shows the premiers who exactly is in charge.
With dinner, bottles of Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon will be served. This maintains the Canadian theme while not breaking the bank. The purpose is to permit the premiers to get drunk off inexpensive wine, not to savour it. The guests should feel welcomed, but not so welcomed that they will stay longer than they need to.
For dessert, sponge cake. This bland and forgettable dessert was good enough for Queen Victoria’s afternoon tea and therefore it is good enough for the premiers. It is the type of dessert that will not offend the premier’s palate, but it will not encourage any premier to ask for seconds.
After dinner, the gentleman shall retire to the drawing room for an aperitif and to look at Stephen Harper’s hockey card collection. On offer this evening will be blueberry wine from Quebec. Although this aperitif symbolizes Prime Minister Harper’s close relationship with Quebec, it’s taste is meant to offend. Having sipped this sweet beverage, the premiers will see the merit in wrapping up the meeting quickly.
The menu made Jane Taber's Hot list, and I was not that far off on some of my suggestions (above). To quote:
Hot: The menu: It's pan-Canadian and predictable. The
premiers dined last night at 24 Sussex Dr. on PEI potatoes; seafood from B.C.,
Nova Scotia and Newfoundland; Arctic char; beef and veal from Alberta and
Quebec; Quebec cheese; berries from Saskatchewan; and fruits, seeds and grains
from Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario.
On a side note, is it possible to have two colons in a sentence?
Although the dinner was "hot", the results were not. Apparently, by the end of a four-hour meeting where the where fourteen guys spent time scarfing down arctic char, beef, and seeds and grains, not much was accomplish. What a surprise. Maybe in 2010, when the Prime Minister next has the premiers over for dinner, the premiers should develop an agenda in advance. With this Prime Minister, the premiers only chance of seeing results is a united front.
First of all, what did the Saskatchewan Party stand for while in Opposition? Tax-cuts - which the NDP had been cutting for nearly a decade now - and... well... that is about all they stood for. Had they been an effective opposition I would have given them credit. However, when you are in power, you can rewrite history and claim that you were the best Opposition this side of Moosomin.
Minister Lyle Stewart says while in Opposition the party did much to push the NDP Government towards business tax rchanges (sic) and the like.
Saskatchewan is about fourth for job growth in Canada.
Through the work of Enterprise Saskatchewan, increasing investment and the hopes of employing the untapped aboriginal workforce, Stewart would like see our province be second in the country this time next year.
Secondly, Lyle Stewart wants to see Saskatchewan ranked second for job growth in 2008? I thought Saskatchewan was having trouble filling many vacant positions, so where are they going to get all the "new" workers from? Also, if the government wants to shoot for increased job growth, why shoot for No. 2 when you can be No. 1?
While Lyle is taking credit for Saskatchewan's good numbers, his boss is off to dine with the Prime Minister. Before going, he demonstrated Saskatchewan new relationship with the Government of Canada by praising the Tories $1 billion aid package.
The money could help P.A., eh Brad? You mean like it would have helped the P.A. mill to stay open if you had kept your promise?
Saskatchewan's premier calls a $1-billion federal aid package for single-industry towns suffering economic hardship "a step in the right direction."
Premier Brad Wall says the money could help Prince Albert and Big River, Sask., where hundreds of workers lost their jobs when mills closed in both northern communities.
Wow - $36 million out of $1 billion - that is only 3.6% of the total.
But Wall also said he also wants to know if the money could be applied to the agricultural sector where producers have been hit hard, especially by the high value of the Canadian dollar.
Saskatchewan is expected to get about $36 million from the new fund.
As Mr. Wall goes to Ottawa, the NDP is claiming that he is going to sell out Saskatchewan on equalization. That is probably true to a degree. Mr. Wall will eventually sign a deal with Harper over equalization payments that will be less than what the previous NDP government was asking for and had been promised, but better than what they were offered. This is not actually so bad because when Harper made his infamous campaign stop in Saskatchewan last election and promised that resources would be excluded from the equalization formula, Harper was actually making poor policy choices. To a degree it is similar to his GST cut promise - good politics but bad policy, only with the equalization formula he had to break his promise.
Although, it is nice to see the Premier shaking up the view within bureaucracy that Saskatchewan should be a "have" province (instead of Saskatchewan always being on the margin and never receiving any benefits), Brad, along with Lyle, his economic development minister, really should take a basic economics course. Natural resources are a scarce commodity, i.e. they will not last forever. They are prone to whims of the market cycle (please refer to the 1930's, 1980's and 1990's for examples of various commodities going bust). This means that Saskatchewan's "have" status will not last indefinitely. Perhaps, if Lyle and Brad are looking at growing the province's work force and getting more out of that $1 billion Tory hand out, than the new Saskatchewan Party government should look into setting up manufacturing, or other value-add industries.
Wall said he will negotiate on the basis that Saskatchewan will always be a "have" province thanks its resource wealth and thinks he will be more successful in securing federal dollars if he proposes spending in specific areas like roads and other infrastructure as well as skills training to address the shortage of workers.
"Saskatchewan needs its own agreement with the federal government," said Wall, adding he is not interested in what Calvert has to say.
On a related note, Palliser MP Dave Batters has ended his self-imposed silence (one assumes it is self-imposed and this may only be temporary), to say that Brad really is Stephen's new whipping boy.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Undermined tackles the lack of meaningful consultations that the Amerindians of Guyana face when dealing with mining companies. Under various legislation, the Amerindians are required to be consulted, however companies have shown up with several hundred pages filled with technical language and require that the community respond to the document that day. Following such "consultations", the company will go off and get its exploration license rubber stamped by the government. A fascinating documentary that was only weakened by the absent of the portrayal of the government and mining companies' points of view.
However, what really made the night interesting was the unexpected attendance of the Guyanese Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues. After the showing, the Minister got up and essentially denounced everything in the film, from the title of Chief Tony James being listed as "Chief of Chiefs", to the existence of an Amerindian land claim, to the means in which Amerindians are consulted. Aside from noting some flaw in the film she painted a near utopian picture of how the government brings Amerindians and corporations together. Perhaps her most telling comment was in regard to the plight of third world countries in attracting development. With that single comment she showed how her government views itself as being in an unequal bargaining position vis a vis large multinationals.
Her presence demonstrates how important the Guyanese government feels it needs to mount a public relations campaign. It was wonderful for her to be there to tackle these issues at the same time. At the same time, I question the government's priorities if they are willing to send a Cabinet Minister to another country to defend against a short documentary that states clearly that its purpose is to encourage debate on the issue. The opening speaker, Ottawa-Centre MP Paul Dewar hit the right tone when he said that these issues exist everywhere and it is up to citizens to harass MPs and members of government to get the message out.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
So, tonight, here is that reason you have been looking for to not go to the gym, to not take work home and not waste time going "what should I do tonight." Go and see Undermined at the National Library and Archives. Show gets on the way at 7.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Oh, and thank you for going after those dishonest public servants who have been taking cutlery from City Hall.
Monday, January 7, 2008
For those of you in the Ottawa area, I encourage you to pop down to the National Library and Archives this Wednesday, January 9th, to view Undermined: Communities, Consultation & Corporate Accountability in Guyana.
To quote the news release:
This 35-minute documentary profiles the perspectives of eight Amerindians
from Guyana, South America, about issues surrounding mining—in particular,
community consultation and the activities of companies operating in the
country's interior, where many land claims remain unresolved.
If this documentary is half as interesting as the stories that Emily Wilson (one of the film's maker) regales about the making of it, then you will be in for an enlightening evening.
Invited speakers include:
*Paul Dewar, Foreign Affairs Critic, New Democratic Party (NDP)
*Tony James, Chief of Chiefs, Region 9, Guyana (TBC)
*Karyn Keenan, Member, Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability
*Stephani Roy McCallum, President, International Association of Public
*Viviane Weitzner, Senior Researcher, The North-South Institute
*Emily Wilson & Brent Parker, Independent Filmmakers, Undermined
Friday, January 4, 2008
Hillary Clinton and John McCain win the New Hampshire primaries. Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani win the Michigan primaries.
Apple Corp. announces regard profit on the success of the iPhone and iPod. Steve Jobs announces that the “i” has become to clichéd and all new Apple products will use the letter “a” as a prefix, as in aPod, in recognition of the Apple revolution.
House of Common resumes sitting.
Superbowl – New England Patriots vs. Green Bay. There are not enough pain killers that Brett Favre can take to prevent the Patriots perfect season. Ron Paul declares that New England's victory is symbolic of capitalism's triumph over community organizations. Favre retires.
Barack Obama announces Oprah as his running mate. Hillary Clinton announces Bill Clinton as her running mate. John Edwards drops out of the race to become Ralph Nader's running mate.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers the budget signalling the tough year a head due to the US economic “slowdown”, but delivers minor tax relief for corporations located in the 905 region. To pay for the tax cuts, he announces the privatization of the Department of Public Works. The Bloc supports the budget without giving a reason, the NDP vote against the budget, and the Liberals abstain but blame the NDP for holding up the government.
The Simpson's wins the Best Picture Award at the Academy Awards. Movie critics note that it was awarded for the Simpson's past body of work and not simply their current film.
Liberals win all four by-elections. Dion claims that these victories confirm Canadians are warming to him after eleven year in public office, and he concludes with "I am too a leader". Harper reacts by saying that the Conservatives had expected to be in a general election and therefore he would not dignify the by-election losses with a response. He adds that these losses are another example of the minority government situation stopping the Tories from implementation policies that they truly want.
Liberals hold a convention and Dion passes the leadership review on account of by-election success.
Lindsay Lohan announces she is pregnant. Quoting an unknown source TMZ.com reports that Lohan got pregnant because her agent noted how pregnancy successfully revamp the images of other former teen darlings Nicole Ritchie and Christina Aguilera.
Hilary Clinton wins the Democrat nomination. Guiliani wins the Republic nomination.
Alberta goes to the polls. Ed Stelmach wins another huge majority, winning every rural seat. Liberals gain three seats in Calgary and two in Edmonton and Kevin Taft resigns. NDP loses two seats. Voter turnout is 31%. Preston Manning announces that he will seek the leadership of the Liberal Party, and runs on a campaign of amalgamating the NDP, the Liberals, the Wild Rose Party and the Alberta Alliance Party into one party.
Elizabeth May resigns as leader of the Green Party when the executive of the party refuse to pay her salary after she spent their annual budget in election preparations. David Orchard announces he is running for the leadership of the party. The next day, he throws his support behind May when she returns as leader having reached a settlement to receive a clothing stipend. May then appointments Humpty Dumpty to run in the riding of Prince Albert where Orchard had been seeking the nomination.
Nova Scotia goes to the polls after the minority government falls when the entire Tory caucus is arrested for driving under the influence after a late night sitting of the legislature. Premier Rodney MacDonald campaigns on family values despite being in the midst of divorce proceedings. The NDP wins 26 seats for a historic victory.
The House prorogues. The Tories fail to pass a bill on horse tranquilizers pills as dietary aid and blame the Liberals in the Senate.
Detroit beats Montreal for the Stanley Cup in five games.
Jack Layton shaves off his mustache during a canoe trip. It has completely grown back by the time he returns to work three-weeks later.
Britney Spears overdoses and the entire world blames the media for her harsh treatment.
N’Sync announces a reunion tour on the Surreal Life. The tour ends up being one show.
Coldplay release their fourth album which sounds remarkably like their 1st, 2nd and 3rd albums. It enters no.1 on the Billboard charts.
The House of Commons resumes sitting. NDP MP Pat Martin logs a record 1078 speaking minutes in Hansard – all on the topic of the danger of splinters from office equipment.
IPSOS-Reid releases a poll showing: Cons 50%, Liberal 23%, NDP 20%, Bloc 4% and the Greens 3%. The next day, Strategic Counsel releases a poll showing: Cons 22%, Libs 38%, NDP 4%, BQ 9% and Greens 27%. Greens publish poll on their website under the headline "Greens no.2!" and leave it on the front page for eternity. The following day, Nanos Research releases a poll showing: Cons 20%, Lib 20%, NDP 20%, BQ 20% and Greens 20%.
Micheal Ignatieff resigns saying that the Liberals policy of abstention has gone on indefinitely. Jane Taber publishes in the Globe that Ignatieff really resigned because he could not take anymore of Bob Rae’s singing, putting Rae into the "Not" column.
Guiliani wins the US Presidency. He immediately announces that he is divorcing his wife and is seen in the company of Cameron Diaz. They marry three months later.
Dion promises that their policy of abstention will ostensibly not go on indefinitely but that MPs are to abstain from voting to change the policy. Ignatieff retracts his resignation. The Tories abstain from voting in support of their own bill providing a tax credit on gun polish triggering an election.
Harper visits the Governor-General and the election is set for March 24, 2009.
The Tories campaign on the Liberals being soft on crime for defeating their gun polish tax credit. The Liberals campaign on the election being a unwanted election. The NDP campaign on the slogan "the Mustache: Effective Leadership". The Bloc does not campaign, hoping that their silence will win votes. The Greens campaign on having a better vision for the economy than the other parties.
Campaigning politicians of every stripe crash every and any holiday party. A notable exception is Cheryl Gallant who is conspicuously invisible.
Wow – Harper is going to meet with the premiers...over dinner on a Friday night. This is the second time that this has happened in his two year reign - the first being a Friday night dinner on February 24, 2006. For a Prime Minister that was elected on his support for provincial rights, he sure does not give the provinces much support. From his fights with Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan over broken promises on equalization, to his fight with Ontario over seat redistribution, to characterizing municipal leaders as “whiners” when they request more infrastructure spending, Harper has demonstrated that federalism is about his agenda.
Remember the good ol’ days when First Ministers conferences were held once a year? Things like the Social Accord were discussed. This was back when there was a veiled attempt to make federalism work. Sure, Quebec and Alberta may have stood against consensus on program spending, but at least they were at the table. I do not advocate for a return of Paul Martin’s asymmetrical federalism, but at least his Cabinet Ministers were talking to their provincial counterparts.
Now it appears that Stephen Harper does not even want to be co-operative to the premiers. He is forced to meet the premiers on an issue as broad as the economy. So he organizes it on a Friday night (likely too late to make the Saturday papers), on the same day that the Manley report on Afghanistan and David Johnston’s report regarding the Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry are set to be released. Harper has clearly ushered in a new era of federalism.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Invasion of the Swedes. I have long been a fan of the (International) Noise Conspiracy and I have had the odd Hives and Millencolin albums to flesh out my punk selection. In 2007, the Swedes proved they could do more then play punk and disco. Bands like Peter, Bjorn and John and Mando Diao proved they could do indie pop. In the process, they followed ABBA and Ace of Base in demonstrating that the Swedes are just as good at writing in an English pop song as the English themselves.
Scotland continued to represent. Camera Obscura and the Fratellis built on the notable tradition of the likes of Belle and Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand.
Scotland’s neighbours to the south proved less enamouring. Whereas 2005 and 2006 were stellar years in English music, as the Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Maximo Park, Bloc Party and the Subways blasted on the scene, 2007 saw the English shift towards poppy gossip. Lily Allen success was a pleasant surprise with her pop sensibilities while singing about bad credit ratings. The Kaiser Chiefs returned with a more mature album. Those Liverpudlians, the Wombats, followed the thumping formula of Franz Ferdinand and created an excellent debut album. Amy Winehouse should have made the list but it is hard to support a junkie singing about not going to rehab. Overall, English music seemed to get bogged down by the Pete Doherty (Babyshambles) and Kate Moss love affair and the Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse drug affairs.
Where has all the good Canadian music gone? The answer is onto my iPod. Feist and the New Pornographers had amazing albums. 2007 saw Buck 65 return to Toronto and return to Talkin’ Honky Blues. His new album is solid but it is not an evolution from Talkin’ Honky. Similarly, the Weakerthans put out another solid effort with Reunion Tour, but it sounded like the outtakes from the Reconstruction Site album instead of building from it. Those alt-country boys the Sadies also put another wonderful album, but after their live album of 2006 they will have a hard time proving to me that they can sound as good in studio as they do live.Top Ten in 2007:
- Rilo Kiley – Under the Blacklight – Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett took time away from their side projects to put out an incredible album. It has disco beats that make you want to dance and the smooth calming voice of Jenny Lewis that makes this cd suitable for any occasion. Listen
- The New Pornographers – Challenger - Their sweet sounds, pop-infused songs have a potential for growing stale, but the New Pornographers continue to evolve. Review Listen
- Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of This Country. I invited C to their show as a first date. She was spooked and we met the Aloha Room instead for a chaperoned drink. Later she bought me this cd and we both fell in love with it. Melody filled with prose of irony. What is there not to like? Listen
- Youth Group – Casino Twilight Dogs. Similar to Camera Obsura, this album was released in 2006 but only made it into my collection in 2007. It is such a worthy addition, that it simply could not be left out. Listen
- Feist – the Reminder. I lovely solid effort by the Calgarian/Toronto/Parisian/ etc chanteuse. Plus you have to love a Canadian who makes it on to an iPod commercial. Listen
- Kaiser Chiefs – The Angry Mob. With their 2004 debut “Employment”, I was attracted by their anthemic hooks of “I predict a riot” and “Everyday I love you less and less”, but I figured, like the Futureheads, this sounds would grow tired soon. Much to my pleasant surprise, the Kaiser Chiefs have followed up their debut with a album imbued with more pop, but more depth. This is a band with room to grow and the Angry Mob was clearly one of the best cds of the year. Listen
- The Fratellis – Costello Music. Once in a while, an artist comes to your attention that makes you sit up and listen. This is the Fratellis. Listen
- Mando Diao – Ode to Ochrasy. These rocking Swedes have been around for a few years but it is Ode to Ochrasy that jumped into my cd player. This is straight ahead indie rock perfected with a raw sensibility. Listen
- Lily Allen – her voice is sugary sweet, and her lyrics have attitude. Singing about drinking, pulling or more socially aware issues, her songs are not just pop. Listen
- Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block. My ring tone for the past few years was Cake’s “Going the Distance”. It has been replaced by the whistling in “young folks”. Listen
The Wombats - This album is not yet available in Canada so I cannot put it on the Top 10 of 2007. This is such a fun album – this is the sort of album that gets in your head makes you feel good all day. Listen. Watch
Jason Collett – Idols of Exile – Okay, this one was released in 2005 and despite it only arriving in my collection in 2007 it could not make the list. But it is a fine cd. Listen to “I’ll bring the sun” and tell me you don’t love it.
The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour. I love them, and they provided me more of the same which means this cd barely cracked the top ten. It is a wonderful cd with a lyrical presence that few can match. Unfortunately, these songs could have been. Listen. Review
The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible. If you missed Funeral and have no interest in getting their debut, then get Neon Bible. Neon Bible sees the Arcade Fire produce a more polished sound that mimics the songs of Funeral without the such stand out as Neighbour #1 or Rebellion (Lies). Listen
Interpol – Our Love to Admire. After two stellar cds, I hotly anticipated this album. Perhaps I expected too much. Two good cds is better than most bands, and this effort is nothing to be sneezed at. It floats through conscious, but without ever taking hold and that is where the problem lies. I would be contend to listen to Our Love to Admire, but I would prefer to listen to their previous effort Antics. Listen
Bloc Party – Weekend in the City. mild disappointment. Their debut, Silent Alarm, was downright inspiring. Here was a band that centered on their drummer. On Weekend in the City the band tried to grow, but with mildly disappointing results as the new direction demonstrated the lack of lyrical depth. ListenUPDATE(S):
Also: Check out Brent Gurewitz (Epitaph Records/Bad Religion) Top Ten of 2007.
Also: Check out Pitchforks Top 50 of 2007.
- Harry Potter – I am sure this was an excellent movie if I had bothered to watch it.
- Ratatouille – although the computer animated animal genre is getting old, conceptualizing a rat that can cook was pure gold.
- Once – a heart-warming movie that made many top ten lists that was made for next to nothing.
- Transformers – they took my favourite childhood toy and made it into a live action movie – how could it be bad? If they had brought Orson Welles back from the dead to reprieve his role as the voice of Unicorn (see Transformers (1985)) than I would have run to theatres to see it.
- I am Legend – Has Will Smith ever done a bad movie? (don’t answer: this is a rhetorical question)
- Daywatch – Russia’s biggest box office hit is a sequel to a confusing vampire movie (Nightwatch).
- Shrek 3 – a movie made so that everyone profits. Maybe I will catch Shrek 5
- Pan’s Labyrinth – one day I will watch you
- [add movie]
- [add movie]
Movies I did see and wish I had not:
Pirates of Caribbean. The beauty of the first one is that it dealt with a simple story line. This one puts an end to the series by making it a confusing storyline of pirates of the world unite. Killing off a main character was unnecessary and making Jack Sparrow actually go crazy only diminished his crazy but competent character. It was like watching the Matrix but for pirates – one great movie is killed by the sequels as the creators tried to “add” to the story line.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
* By "faithful readers" I really mean faithful reader- Hi El Maggie.
2007 ended with the pleasure of visiting friends and family. Family proved exceedingly generous this Christmas providing a raclette set, a tool box, and an ipod nano. This being my first mp3 player, I will now be able to blog more about music (watch for the top ten list, coming soon). However, should there be a sudden stop to this blog it is because I was hit by a car while out running and listening to the ipod.
According to my horoscope, and I do believe in such fanciful notions, 2008 has Jupiter and Saturn aligning in such a way that directions once clouded will become clear. Other things to do in 2008:
- pay-off credit card debt and actually use the savings accounts for saving money (I will focus on the student debt in 2009).
- improve efficiency at work. Although the strict employee productivity theory that holds employees should always be productive during working hours (and thus the evils of have email, facebook, and other forms of online satanic iconoclastic worship should be banned) may be inaccurate, I would like to aim for a ratio of being productive for 54 minutes out of 60 minutes for every eight hours worked
- get a new home computer so that I can work, blog and waste time more efficiently at home
- run at least two 1/2 marathon races this year (maybe even one whole marathon). If anyone has good suggestions for trail runs in the coming year, please forward them to me.
- practice drums. I will never live out my rock star escapist fantasies until I actually step up from the five-minutes per week that I currently find time for
- Finally start on my great Canadian novel (please note that I only say to "start" the novel, and I define the term "start" broadly. I envision this to be a project that will really take shape in my retirement - somewhere in the next 35 years).