Saturday, May 31, 2008

Political Wisdom

My son is running for his high school student council.

So based on what's going on in federal politics, I have offered him this sage advice: Don't offer anybody million dollar life insurance policies, have nothing to do with Elections Canada and stay away from large-busted biker chicks.

Next I will tell him how to put together effective attack ads.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Short Termism

The good folks at the Work Research Foundation invited me to attend a lecture last night, and since I never say no to a freebie I went.

The speaker was Jonathan Wellum, CEO of AIC Ltd. and the topic was "Short termism" and the market.

To be honest I expected it would be a dry boring lecture about hedge funds or something.

But it was actually a fascinating talk about the challenges we face in the years ahead from high oil prices to an aging population to misallocation of scare resources.

Wellum's main point was that an inordinate amount of the world's wealth is being concentrated in the hands of people -- Hugo Chavez, the Chinese, Oil emirates -- who are squandering capital it took centuries to accumulate.

He also says that we here in the West are forgetting that to create wealth we need to respect the right to private property, reduce the size of government and save more money.

Finally -- and this point really hit home to me -- he says the Western world needs leaders who instead of "pandering" stick to their principles.

Amen to that.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Leave it to Cleavage

Check out a column I wrote for the Toronto Sun where, in the name of political journalism, I take a long look at Julie Couillard's cleavage and explain what it means for the future of our beloved Confederation.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rise and Fall of Bernier

Sorry to see that Maxime Bernier's cabinet career has flamed out.

Back in the days when he was Industry Minister, I thought he was one of the few bright lights in the Harper cabinet.

But then he got shifted to Foreign Affairs, a post I didn't think suited him.

Too bad.

I hope one day he can bounce back.

Thompson on conservatism

Former Republican senator Fred Thompson has an interesting op ed in the Wall Street Journal offering advice to American conservatives.

First off, Thompson says conservatives should not give into pessimism.

Secondly, he laments how, "some conservatives try to avoid philosophical confrontation with liberals, often urging solutions that would expand the government while rationalizing that the expansion would be at a slightly slower rate."

To be successful, Thompson says conservatives must remain true to their principles.

That's good advice for Canadian conservatives too.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good riddance to Brodie

It seems Ian Brodie is out as Prime Minister Harper's Chief of Staff and Guy Giorno is in.


Let's face it, Brodie -- an academic -- was out of his league in the rough and tumble world of federal politics.

And while his "NAFTA-gate" gaffe was what probably did him in, he could just as easily been canned both for his general incompetence and for his disdain for true conservatives.

It's also good to see that his replacement will be Giorno, a former Mike Harris staffer. Will things change dramatically in the Harper government because Brodie is gone?

Probably not.

But at least, this is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The CBC and Me

OK was on Politics today to talk about the possibility of Premier Ed Stelmach imposing an election gag law. You can watch it here. You will have to fast forward to about the 36:46 mark.

Media Alert

On Friday I posted that I was going to appear on the CBC Newsworld program Politics to talk about election gag laws.

Unfortunately, I got bumped at the last minute.

The good news, however, is that I have been rescheduled to appear on the show today at approximately 5:10 PM EST.

So I will definitely be on today --- unless I'm bumped.

Republicans and their message

It looks like the Republican Party in the United States is heading for disaster this fall.

And American historian Victor Davis Hanson says US Republicans deserve to lose ---unless he says "they craft clear positions that won’t be compromised and then offer them as alternative choices to the voters this fall."

Here are some of Hanson's suggested policies.

Hint: They involve acting more like real conservatives.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Media Alert

I am tentatively scheduled to be on the Newsworld program Politics this afternoon at approx. 5:15 EST to talk about the possibility of Alberta imposing an election gag law.

Media Updates

Here's a couple of media bits I did recently.

First, from the World Tonight with Rob Breakenridge, is a debate between myself and Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch.

We tangled on the the question of election gag laws.

And you can hear an interview I did yesterday on the Al and Mike Show here. We talked about free speech, conservatism.

I hope everybody has a great long weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Media Alert

I will be a guest on the Al and Mike Show tonight at 8:00 PM.

I the jury

I recently got called for jury duty.

Like any other civic-minded, patriotic Canadian my first thought was: "How do I get out of this?"

But then, I realized going through this process might be a learning experience.

And it was.

I learned courthouse was a long drive from my home; I learned the steel benches me and other potential jurors had to sit on for two hours are really hard; and I learned there are all sorts of excuses people use to get excused from jury duty.

Anyway, to make a long, boring story a short boring story, all of us potential jurors got released when the accused changed his plea at the last minute.

So that's it, I did my duty and won't get called again for years.

I just hope next time they get more comfortable benches.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Media Alert II -- Gag Law Debate

I will be debating Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch tonight on The World Tonight with Rob Breakenridge at 10:00 PM EST.

Topic: Gag laws.

Conacher will argue we need gag laws to muzzle Canadians and deny them their right to free political speech and I will argue in favour of freedom.

Should be an interesting contest.

Media Alert

I will be on the radio program Calgary Today with Mike Blanchard, (CHQR) this afternoon at 5:00 PM EST to discuss my Herald column on why Alberta doesn't need an election gag law.

Say it aint so Ed

I have a column in today's Calgary Herald mourning the fact that Premier Ed Stelmach may soon impose an election gag law on Alberta.

When it comes to election speech, Alberta has always been one of the freest jurisdictions in Canada.

I'd hate to see that change.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tories and section 13

Anyone who thinks the Conservative Party isn't abandoning its principles please check out this posting on Ezra Levant's blog.

It turns out the Conservative government favours laws which limit free speech -- more specifically it favours the notorious section 13 of the Human Rights Act.

It's all in a legal memo issued by the Justice Department. I won't go into details because Levant does a masterful job of dissecting the government's weak arguments.

But let's just say the government comes across sounding like a left wing version of the NDP.

What's your evidence Mr. Dion?

Liberal leader Stephane Dion is accusing Prime Minister Harper of harboring a secret libertarian agenda:

"He wants to dismantle the main elements of what he calls the interventionist state," says Dion.

If only that were true!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An Idea for David Suzuki

Here's a little contraption my son made for a school science project.
It's a mousetrap propelled car. And it really works!
This got me to thinking. Maybe the government should mandate auto companies to make all cars mousetrap powered.
It would help save the planet; but believe me, you would have to watch your fingers!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Calling all Nichollettes

I was having lunch with a friend the other day, who told me something rather fascinating.

My friend says I have a large group of female fans out there, who call themselves "The Nichollettes."

Now it's possible he was just pulling my leg, but with my boyish good looks, well you never know.

So to all The Nichollettes, keep up the good work!

Friday, May 09, 2008

The suddenly prudish Liberals

OK the Liberal Party of Canada has officially hit rock bottom.

The party of Laurier, King, and Pearson, the "most successful political machine in Western democracy", has reduced itself to the status of the National Enquirer.

I mean, with all the important issues out there -- war in Afghanistan, possible recession, no Canadian team in the NHL playoffs -- what do the Liberals want to focus on? -- the sex life of cabinet minister Maxime Bernier!

It seems the Foreign Affairs Minister recently had a domestic affair with an ex-biker chick.

The Liberals think this little bit of gossip should be front-page news. Who knows, they seemed so worked up about it in the House of Commons yesterday, maybe they will even topple the government over it.

If they do, here's a suggested campaign slogan: "Vote Liberal -- No issue is too sleazy for us!"

I wonder what Liberal MP Scott Brison thinks about all this?

Didn't he defect from the Conservatives because he claimed they were too concerned with matters pertaining to sexual relations?

Just asking.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Carbon copy taxes

Liberal leader Stephane Dion will it seems announce plans to impose a "carbon tax" in the unlikely event he should ever become Prime Minister.

The media is spinning this as a bold move given that Canadians are already fed up with gasoline prices which are soaring faster than Michael Moore's cholesterol count.

But actually, for Dion it's a no-brainer.

A carbon tax, of some sort, is clearly in the works. Even some conservatives and libertarians support the idea.

In fact, I suspect the reason Dion spilled the beans for his carbon tax idea was to preempt the Conservatives who were probably planning something similar.

Does this make carbon taxes a good idea?

I don't think so. Once you set the precedent that raising taxes is a good way to save the planet you are guaranteed one thing -- more taxes.

I suspect that before long we will see such new measures as:

* Drive-Thru Tax
Everybody knows idling your car while waiting for you morning coffee in the Tim Horton's Drive thru adds to global warming, so why not tax it? To offset this tax, "roll-up the rim" prizes will include a one-time tax exemption.

* Toilet Paper Tax
The less said about this the better.

* David Suzuki Surcharge
This will be not so much of a tax per se, but more like tribute money paid to Canada's most famous environmentalist. He will use the money to dream up new environmental taxes.

We will be told, of course, that these taxes will be "revenue neutral", which is another way of saying, if you want to keep your revenue move to Switzerland.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A cherry coke for the emperor

I will never admit to watching Robot Chicken, but here's a little Star Wars parody from that show which for some reason makes me laugh.

Extreme Make Over: Canadian Edition

The Auditor General says the Prime Minister's residence at 24 Sussex Dr. is falling apart and needs major renovations.

The needed renovations, says the National Capital Commission, would cost taxpayers an estimated $10 million.

If you think that sounds too high, you obviously haven't hired a plumber lately.

Anyway, Prime Minister Harper has nixed the idea of any renovations, saying he is willing to put up with the bad plumbing, the faulty wiring and the ghost of Mackenzie King's mother.

I say, however, the Prime Minister of Canada deserves decent living conditions.

So here's my idea.

Let's send Harper and his family off on a week long holiday somewhere (anywhere but Mexico) and then while they're gone we invite the people from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition up to Canada.

They fix up the house lickety-split and then the whole nation can watch the emotional reveal when Harper returns to Ottawa.

The Prime Minister might even get choked up enough to shake his son's hand!

Now that's good television.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My website

I am officially announcing the launch of my website:

It's still a work in progress, but considering that when I started this project I couldn't tell the difference between a FTP and a CSS, it looks pretty good.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Anatomy of a scandal

The latest polls seem to indicate the Conservative Party has not been hurt too much by the Elections Canada "scandal."

On the surface, this might surprise a lot of people considering the shellacking the Tories have been taking from the media and from the Opposition parties over this matter.

Yet there are three reasons why we shouldn't be surprised.

First, the allegations against the Conservatives are convoluted, involving as they do a scheme whereby the national headquarters gave money to local ridings who then gave it back to the national headquarters who used it to pay for national ads, but the local ridings also received reimbursements for running local ads etc, etc, etc. A certified accountant may be able to follow all this stuff but it will give everyone else a headache.

A real scandal is one you can communicate in one sentence, ie "The governor hired a hooker."

Second, real scandals are the ones where people feel they are being personally ripped off. For instance, the "adscam scandal" hurt the Liberals because it looked like they were robbing our tax dollars to make their buddies rich. By contrast, the Tories are accused of violating some arcane election law. That might bother Canadians, but it won't infuriate them.

Third and lastly, thanks to all the government scandals we have been exposed to over the past few years, we are probably becoming used to them. It's getting harder and harder to shock an increasingly cynical population.

Still even though the Elections Canada issue won't necessarily kill the Tories, it will still hurt their image.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Repeat after me: You have a Canadian identity

This morning I was reading an article in the National Post concerning a speech Tory cabinet minister Jason Kenney gave last night.

What caught my eye was Kenney's title: Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity.

That has me a little confused.

OK I get the multiculturalism bit. That just means Kenney's job is to dole out government grants to various ethnic groups so they will stop voting Liberal and start voting Conservative.

But why the heck do we need a cabinet minister in charge of "Canadian identity"? What exactly does that mean?

Are we having some sort of national identity crisis? Do Canadians wake up in the morning thinking they are Dutch, or Koreans or Egyptians?

If so, what does Kenney do to counter-act this? Are there "re-education camps" in the woods somewhere to re-install a "Canadian identity" into people?

It's funny, I never knew there was such a thing as a "Canadian identity".

I always thought people were individuals with their own unique identities.

Is that an unCanadian idea?

Maybe it's time I checked into one of Kenney's camps.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hoy on gag laws

Claire Hoy has a good column on how Opposition parties are making a tempest out of a teapot regarding this Elections Canada investigation of the Conservative Party.

Hoy says even if the Tories did over spend in the 2006 election, it doesn't mean, as some Liberals and NDP are claiming, that the results were tainted or illegitimate.

Big spending alone does not guarantee political victory.

More important is Hoy's conclusion:

Harper is right in suggesting that Elections Canada is using its power as a grudge match against his earlier criticisms, and we can only hope that if he garners a majority in the next election - and given the weak Liberal leadership that's a real possibility - he'll not only get Elections Canada out of the business of telling political parties where they should spend their advertising dollars, but he'll nuke those dreadful "gag laws" and restore free speech to those Canadians who care enough about the political process to exercise it, whether they are on the right, the left, the middle or somewhere in cyberspace.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Post takes on EC

From today's National Post editorial: "Whether or not Elections Canada means to leave the appearance of bias against the Tories, it has. Its actions look like those of an agency with a vendetta against the Tories and their leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper."

Remember you read it here first.