Friday, April 28, 2006

Railroading Harper

While riding home on the Go Train last night and I saw something mighty peculiar.

Each Go Train car has one of those electronic advertising signs which usually urge you to buy tickets to some or other event.

But this time the sign had a definite political message.

It kept repeating the phrase: “Stephen Harper Eats Babies” over and over again throughout my entire ride home.

Now I wonder if somebody paid to put up this message or whether it was just the official viewpoint of Go Transit.

I sent them an email for clarification.

Can’t wait til I get my response.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Blogging Video

American syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin has taken blogging to the next level.

She has set up a site called Hot Air, which combines blogging and video to create what is essentially a conservative daily newscast.

The site also promises photoshop parodies and investigative reporting.

It sounds great, but don’t look for me to follow suit.

I don’t think the world is ready for a video of me on the internet.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Story of Democracy

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

Yet not everyone is so cynical about democracy. In fact, today democracy is almost universally recognized as the only legitimate form of government.

Not bad for an idea that was moribund for about 2000 years.

But what is democracy? Where did it come from? How has it changed? Why is it such a dominant force today?

John Dunn, a professor of Political Theory at Cambridge University, has written a book to answer those questions called Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy.

Check out a review of this book by Patrick Basham of the Democracy Institute.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Teacher Fined for Respecting the Law

It’s hard to believe anyone could ever get into trouble for not breaking the law.

But that’s what happened to teacher Margaret Christopherson who crossed a picket line last year during an illegal strike in British Columbia.

According to her husband, Christopherson simply went to work because she didn’t want to break the law and set a bad example for her students.

Yet her union doesn’t care.

The Nicola Valley local of the B.C. Teacher’s Federation says Christopherson broke their rules and they placed her and three other teachers in “bad standing.”

As well, the union is demanding Christopherson pay the union the money she earned during the two-week strike.

Isn’t that dandy?

The union breaks the law and holds an illegal strike and they want a law abiding teacher to pay a penalty.

Christopherson has filed a complaint with the B.C. Labour Relations Board.

Let’s hope the Board uses some common sense and sides with the teacher in this case.

Union rules should not trump the rule of law.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Canada at War

Is Canada ready for war?

That’s the question we need to ask ourselves in light of the recent tragic deaths of those four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

While the media reaction to those deaths was definitely “over the top” there is also no question they shocked the nation.

What is going to happen when more casualties occur in the weeks and months ahead? Is the country going to go into a constant state of national grieving?

Something has to give.

Either we must throw in the towel and surrender to terrorism, or we as a country have to get our heads around the fact that we are at war against a deadly opponent.

That means accepting the fact that in wars people die. It also means accepting the fact that this is a war we must win.

Canadian writer Rondi Adamson addressed this point in an article which recently appeared in the Christian Science Monitor.

Also see a good editorial on this in today’s National Post.

But it won’t be journalists who win over public support for the war.

That’s a job our leaders need to do.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Common Sense Evolution

It’s too bad Alberta seems to be backing off on plans to reform its health care system.

But sooner or later reform will come because the socialist model we have in place just ain’t working.

Had the opportunity to hear Dr. Brian Day, who has been nominated to head the Canadian Medical Association, speak yesterday at a Fraser Institute event.

In a powerful presentation, Dr. Day made the point that our health care system is too costly, too inefficient and causing unnecessary suffering.

It’s only a matter of time, he says, that politicians will bow to reality and allow private alternatives to the public system.

It might happen slowly at first and in fits and starts, but it will happen.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bungled Bilingualism Bonus

Did you hear about this latest bilingualism fiasco?

It turns out the federal government is dishing out about $275,000 a year to pay 344 foreign affairs bureaucrats bilingualism bonuses even though they don’t qualify.

In some cases, the bureaucrats receiving the $800 a year bonuses haven’t mastered both official languages and in other cases they are working in posts not designated as bilingual.

Just one question.

Weren’t these non-bilingual government employees wondering why they were getting bilingualism bonuses?

I guess they just figured were part of some new government program.

Just like government sometimes pay farmers not to grow crops, maybe these employees believed they were being paid not to be bilingual.

One more sad example of your tax dollars at work.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Limit on Political Contributions a Bad Idea

A few days ago I posted a blog praising the federal government’s Accountability Act.

And overall I think it is a good plan to make government better and more honest.

Yet there is one part of the Act I really don’t like: the proposal to further restrict what individuals can contribute to a political party.

This restriction won’t mean better government, but it will stifle individual free expression.

I have written an op-ed on this topic which is a featured commentary on the Globe and Mail’s website.

You can read it here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Book Takes on Activist Judges

Has the Charter of Rights and Freedoms failed Canadians?

Author and former political science professor Rory Leishman says yes.

And he has written a book called Against Judicial Activism: The Decline of Freedom and Democracy in Canada, to show why.

Essentially, Leishman argues activist judges and Human Rights adjudicators are using the power the Charter gives them to impose their own left-wing ideological preferences on the country.

He backs this up in his book, by citing case after case after case, which show how judges defy the popular will and sometimes common sense to push their own radical agenda.

And some of the cases cited are really quite bizarre.

For instance, Leishman recounts the story of a male transsexual who joined a club called the Vancouver Lesbian Connection.

This man considered himself a “lesbian” but refused to refer to himself as a woman or more properly a “womyn” because to him that word was a contemptible construct used by men to put down females.

Anyway to make a strange story short, the Lesbians did not appreciate this stance on the word womyn and opted to kick him out of their club.

The male lesbian promptly complained to the BC Human Rights Commission, who ruled the womyn lesbians had discriminated against him because he was a male-to-female transsexual.


Other cases recounted in the book deal with how the Courts browbeat politicians into taking anti-family stances on same-sex marriage, abortion and free speech.

As Leishman puts it, “Many of the hard-won freedoms of Canadians are fast disappearing. Complacent Canadians should beware.”

Monday, April 17, 2006

Liberals Lurching Left

Ok so Bob Rae is going to announce he is running for the leadership of the Liberal Party next week.

That means another centre-left candidate.

Already Liberal leadership hopeful, Michael Ignatieff has said he wants to move the party to the left as well.

What’s going on here?

Do the Liberals really think the way to win the next election is to further embrace socialism?

Here’s the reality: Trudeau-style socialism is as good as dead. Capitalism – of some sort – is the wave of the future.

Any political party that thinks it can win election by calling for massive social spending programs or with higher taxes or by kissing up to union bosses will only doom itself to extinction.

The Liberals should know this.

In fact, throughout the 1990s they successfully sold themselves as good fiscal managers.

If they change their tune now it will mean Stephen Harper and the Tories will be in power a long, long time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Accountability Act

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to provide better and more accountable government.

And so far, he is keeping that promise.

His Accountability Act will go a long way toward ending the kind of corruption that has plagued Ottawa in recent years.

Some of the things I like in the proposed Act:

Expanding access-to-information legislation to cover crown corporations.
Giving the Auditor-General more power
Ensuring government appointments on merit
Creating a more transparent process for awarding government contracts.

All good stuff.

One disappointment in the package, however, was the government’s failure to end the practice of giving public subsidies to political parties.

This is nothing but a welfare plan for politicians.

But overall, this is a good start.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Defending the NCC

As I noted in yesterday’s posting, Globe and Mail columnist Jeffery Simpson took a cheap shot at the National Citizens Coalition.

In response, I sent the Globe a letter to the editor which was posted today. Here is an edited version which appeared today:

Dear Sir/Madam:

Jeffery Simpson’s implication that the National Citizens Coalition is not a serious organization is ludicrous. (Ignatieff’s Unbearable Lightness of Absence – April 8)

In fact, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was president of the NCC for four years precisely because he realized it is helping to make a difference in Canada.

Representing thousands of Canadians, the NCC promotes free enterprise, individual freedom and better, more accountable government.

It has battled to protect free political speech, it has exposed and opposed wasteful government spending and it has waged vigorous media campaigns to protect economic and political freedoms.

Mr. Simpson may not agree with the NCC’s political stance, but he should not shortchange its accomplishments.

As I said that’s the edited version. My original ending line was this:

“Mr. Simpson may not agree with the NCC’s political stance, but for him to shortchange its accomplishments is simply shoddy journalism.”

Monday, April 10, 2006

Simpson vs. The NCC

For some reason Globe and Mail columnist Jeffery Simpson decided to smear the National Citizens Coalition in his Saturday column.

I won’t bore you with the details, but Simpson’s general point was that Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t hold all that an important or serious position when he was with the NCC.

Well Harper certainly thought his work here was important.

In the February 1997 edition of our newsletter, when he had just resigned as an MP with the Reform Party to join our group, Harper explained why he wanted to work with us.

Here’s an extract:

The truth is that, in the past decade, the political arena has begun to fill with politicians and political organizations struggling to implement the basic values for which the NCC has always stood, at one time very much alone. The agenda of the NCC was a guide to me as the founding policy director of Reform.

I have long supported and proudly defended the NCC and it has never given me reason to do otherwise.

Elected officials are constrained by the need for popularity every four to five years. The average one is consumed by the monthly opinion polls. The really bad ones worry about the approval of every group coming through their offices looking for a handout. Working with you in the NCC provides me with an opportunity to do much more --- to fight for basic conservative values of free markets and free elections, whether fashionable at that moment or not.

I am honoured to join you in your fight. The battle for political and economic freedom will have its victories and setbacks, as it has in the past.

It will never end . . . and we shall never surrender.”

And indeed as NCC president, Stephen Harper led many important battles for freedom.

That’s a fact Simpson chooses to ignore, meaning he is either a shoddy journalist or a biased one – or maybe both.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Question Period Fun

For the first time ever I actually enjoyed watching Question Period in the House of Commons.


Well it wasn’t because of the level of debate. And it wasn’t because there was any lofty rhetoric or informative exchanges.

I enjoyed Question Period simply because the Liberals were the ones asking the questions.

That sounds petty, I know.

But admit it.

Isn’t there something satisfying about watching the once smug and arrogant Liberals wallow in the Opposition benches?

A little humility will do them some good.

Self-Promotional Alert:

I will be on the Stirling Faux Show on CHQR Calgary to discuss Senate reform at 10:45 AM EST.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Senate Reform

One of the items mentioned in the Throne Speech was Senate reform.

Certainly, this is an issue that needs debating. Our current Senate is an archaic, undemocratic national embarrassment.

Of course, fixing it won’t be easy.

Here are my thoughts on the subject from my column which appears in Report magazine.

Self-promotional Update:

I will be discussing Senate reform on Charles Adler Online, at 4:03 PM EST.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Gag Law on Last Legs?

One interesting promise in yesterday’s Throne Speech was the bit about “electoral reform.”

“This government,” declared Governor-General Michaelle Jean “will seek to involve parliamentarians and citizens in examining the challenges facing Canada’s electoral system and democratic institutions.”

Media pundits seem to think this is about studying things like rep by pop.

But I hope it’s more than that.

I hope Prime Minister Stephen Harper is also thinking about scrapping the notorious election gag law, which denies all Canadians the right to free speech during elections.

Certainly, Harper opposed gag laws when he was president of the National Citizens Coalition.

As I noted a few postings ago, Canadians want better government.

And restoring free speech is the best thing a government can do.

Media Alert:

I am scheduled to be a guest on CHQR's Dave Rutherford Show at 11:30 Alberta time to discuss the Throne Speech.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Play Ball

I know this is blog is supposed to be about politics. And I know that means I should write something about today’s Throne Speech.

But Greg Weston, who covers the House of Commons for Sun Media, today writes “While throne speeches have the fancy-sounding purpose of setting out the government's agenda for the new Commons session, they typically rank high on the list of parliamentary traditions ordinary Canadians can safely ignore.”

Read his whole column here.

Anyway, I will take Weston’s advice and ignore the Throne Speech so I can concentrate on something much more important: Opening Day for the Toronto Blue Jays.

To get everybody in the proper mood for what should be an exciting season here is a list of some great baseball sites I like to visit:

Major League Baseball’s official site: This is a great way to get the season stats and standings and scores all season.

Baseball Reference: The best place to get the history of any major league player that ever played or any major league team that ever existed. Be warned this can be a real time waster for anybody who loves baseball history.

MLB Rumours: Want to get the latest trade gossip about your favorite player; this is the place to get it.

Baseball Think Factory: This section of the Baseball Think Factory is sort of a clearinghouse for links to baseball columnists across North America.

Puresim Baseball: This is a cool PC game I own. It allows you to simulate any year in baseball history or to create your own fictional leagues. Check it out.

Hope you enjoy these sites. Hope you enjoy the upcoming season.

That is unless you are a Yankee fan.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Self-Promotion Alert

Had an op-ed published in the Windsor Star on Saturday.

It's based on a blog I posted here a few days ago.

New Parliament for Canada

A new Parliament convenes today.

But Canadians want and need more than just a new Parliament; they also need a new attitude of governing.

That means we need government that is honest; government that is accountable; and government that is simply better.

Of course, Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces the difficulty of heading a weak minority government.

Yet all parties have an interest in bringing about reform.

Canadians want to turn the page.

And woe to any political party that fails to heed that message.