What reality is Prime Minister living in? Canada will not participate in North American Missile Defence however we expect to be consulted before it is used over our airspace?

Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday that Canada has to be involved in any U.S. decision to shoot down an enemy missile in Canadian airspace...

....Mr. Martin had told reporters he expected the United States to consult with Canada.

"“Canada is a sovereign nation and we would expect and insist on being consulted on any intrusion into our space",” Mr. Martin said.

He did not explain what kind of consultation he expects out of the Americans in the event of a missile attack, and federal officials refused to expand on the scenario.

Let's just say the Yanks decide not to ask permission, what exactly will be the ramifications? What is our "or else"? The implication from the PM is that Canada would have the authority to say no to the trigger being pulled, and while that would certainly be an act of war, what if the Yanks fired away? What are we going to do?

One would think that if we were a friend and an ally of the United States, we would say fire at will, shoot down that nuclear missile being fired at you. But no, we are not a friend or an ally. We want the option to say no.

So a missile is heading towards New York and the Yanks give the PM a call, it takes a fair bit of time to conduct a poll to get a reading on the political implications in Quebec. Seriously, the very notion is ridiculous. If a missile is fired towards North America the US are going to pull the trigger and we can rely on that.

Bill Graham adds nothing of use:

Defence Minister Bill Graham, who had been a strong advocate of missile defence, attempted to play down the remark, saying that regardless of Canada's decision, the system would have always been largely under U.S. control.

He added that the United States would not likely shoot down a missile over Canada, given the objective is to intercept an enemy missile before it reaches North America.

“If it's to be successful, [the missile] has to be shot down within the first couple of minutes over the Pacific Ocean. It won't be shot down over Canada,” he said in a television interview.

“Whether we had gone in or not, the United States would have been making those sorts of decisions.”

I guess he did say something useful, and that is that the decision lies with United States.

The telling quote comes from U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci who says that Canada has given up its right to be involved in the decision making process:

“We will deploy,” Mr. Cellucci said. “We will defend North America. “We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereignty, its seat at the table, to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada.
Of course the Americans will defend North America. They are the only ones who can. The US knows that Canada's answer would be yes -we would be affected by the fallout, both nuclear and economic. It's just that our insistence that they ask implies that we might say no and that is not a viable option for any U.S. Government.

The fact is that Canada is no longer a friend or an ally of the United States. We are an enemy. It is one act of aggression after another, the latest being the demand for option to allow a missile attack against their soil. Canada is their burden. We are no longer a friend. We are no longer an ally. We are a parasite.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/25/2005 01:37:00 p.m. TITLE: MADD - No beer in the corner store ----- BODY:
From SES Research:
SES Research - MADD Canada Poll of Ontarians

An SES Research survey commissioned by MADD Canada indicates that
Ontarians believe that the planned sale of beer and wine at corner
stores will likely lead to increases in the incidents of drinking and
driving, sales to underage people and the sale of alcohol to
intoxicated persons.

Polling January 22nd and January 26th, 2005 (Random Telephone Survey
of 500 Ontario residents, MoE ±4.5%, 19 times out of 20).
Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Question - "Will the following likely increase, likely decrease or
not change if the Provincial Government allows the sale of beer and
wine at local corner stores?"

- the number of drinking and driving incidents (Likely increase 53%)
- beer & wine being sold to underage persons (Likely increase 70%)
- beer & wine being sold to intoxicated persons (Likely increase 64%)

Of course there is no evidence of this. The intuitive thought is that the access will increase the temptation. I would suggest that a lot of drinking and driving happens heading to the beer or liquor store for more booze. However, I, like the people polled, simply do not know the answer.

It is these "how do you feel" polls that create poor public policy. MADD, an organization bred from tragedy, has in recent years become more of a temperance society. Of course they do not want beer in the corner store, not because it will lead to drinking and driving but because they, like the anti-tobacco lobby, are now in the business of "de-normalizing" alcohol consumption. Political expediency rather than good public policy will prevail.

Visit St. John's Newfoundland, a place where corner stores sell beer. There are taxis on the street like you are in New York. It is a city that drinks and where drinking and driving is socially unacceptable. The cab companies even offer the "double cab" - one cab takes you home and the driver of the second cab drives your car home. The cost is double your fare. Not drinking and driving is a choice, regardless of where you are drinking.

On that note, it's off to the bar for me ... I always have been more of a bar fly than a sit at home kind of drinker
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/25/2005 12:45:00 p.m. TITLE: Low Self Esteem more dangerous than thought ----- BODY:
I was listening to CBC radio this morning and there was some startling news - there is a new strain of HIV that is spread by depression and low self-esteem. There is also some concern that body-image problems may play a roll,as well as crystal meth. All this time I thought it was unprotected sex and intravenous drug use.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/23/2005 02:54:00 p.m. TITLE: Liberal glass is half empty ----- BODY:
The Liberal convention looks to be a nothing event. With the Party in a minority situation and the new Tories having their inaugural policy convention, one would think that the Libs would want to at least make it appear that they are still vibrant. However, it appears that Liberals are used to operating on someone else's dime:

Federal Liberals are so broke they can't afford cash incentives to persuade party faithful to attend their upcoming national convention in Ottawa. Liberals say the 2004 federal election emptied their coffers and they've failed to replenish them due to new fundraising rules that severely limit corporate donations.

So delegates, who in the past depended on subsidies from their riding association, are either backing out of attending the Liberal Party's March 3-6 Ottawa policy convention or are lobbying fellow Grits in their riding to help pay their way.

Only a handful of Canada's 308 ridings have been able to fill a full slate of 16 delegates.

Liberal Party spokesman Steven MacKinnon said all 308 ridings have held elections, and he expects at least 2,000 delegates will show up -- less than half the 4,928 allowed.

"It's highly unusual for all ridings to send full slates to a policy convention anyway," MacKinnon said

With the end of the sponsorship program it is also unlikely that the Liberals will be doing any advertising in the next election.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/23/2005 01:19:00 a.m. TITLE: Paul Martin is a Bitch ----- BODY:
The latest reports have Martin, blinking first and often in his stare-down with the Quebec electorate. For his own political gain he will take an action that will have no benefit for Canada but will actually create harm ... he is going to say no to missle defence.

No more Mr. Dithers, Martin is going to put the Yanks in their place. He will follow this up by attacking the tobacco industry. How shameless is this guy
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/23/2005 12:47:00 a.m. TITLE: Bono shares his time while we share our taxes. ----- BODY:
Bono is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, confirming the value of said prize at about nil. All I want is for Bono to figure out the salary for a well paid professional in Dublin, say a brain surgeon, set himself up with a trust to guarantee that level of income (indexed to inflation of course) and donate the rest of his earnings to the causes that he asks the middle class taxpayers of Canada to pay for. But who are we to complain. Nobel Nominee Bono promotes himself, and his record sales, by sharing his presence with the world. What more could we ask.

Over at The London Fog, there is a picture of Bono's reaction. It is worth a look.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/22/2005 11:52:00 p.m. TITLE: Canada blowing with the wind ----- BODY:
Canada's insignificance in world affairs should not come as a surprise to most Canadians. We have a small population, we have unilaterally disarmed, we are rich and relatively stable. Why would anyone pay attention? Do we pay attention to Finland? There was a brief period, between Trudeau and Chretien where Canada could at least claim the ear of the United States. We were neighbor's, we were friends, we were allies. Today we just happen to live next door.

At the NATO meetings we have Minister Pettigrew offering Canada as a go-between for the EU and the USA. But neither side wants or needs that. The Yanks and the EU actually have very little to discuss, as Mark Steyn points out in today's Telegraph. Of Course Mr. Pettigrew is a man who suggested that Canada's policy on foreign affairs is not made in the interest of its citizens but to some great unknown interest. That actually explains a great deal about this government - they act in a combination of self-interest and self-righteousness, not in the interest of the citizens.

Paul Martin, noting that France has jumped on the Syria band wagon, looked around and leapt onto Iran. In today's Globe & Mail:
Prime Minister Paul Martin has taken a tougher stand on the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Martin told NATO leaders Tuesday that, while diplomacy and dialogue remain a top priority, the world community “must be prepared to stand behind its words with stronger measures.”

Under the Liberals, Canada has unilaterally disarmed. Sure we have a few guys we can hold up and call an army, but we do not pay them or give them any weapons or have the means to deploy them. It is merely a facade. How then is Canada going to "stand behind its words with stronger measures"? The only way would be if Martin is not talking about force but sanctions.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/22/2005 03:52:00 p.m. TITLE: National Post Calls for Kofi's head ----- BODY:
As Instapundit likes to call it, UNSCAM UPDATE: A Canadian newspaper, The National Post, is calling for the head of Kofi Annan. Who would have thunk? It is a members only site so here is an excerpt:
Rather than doing everything in his power to root out oil-for-food abuses, Kofi Annan was slow - and at times even obstructionist - in responding to US requests to provide information. He also stubbornly insisted his son had no connection to Oil - For-Food until incontrovertible evidence emerged showing otherwise in November.

Mr Annan's ability to lead has been further called into question by other misdeeds perpetrated under his watch, including UN peacekeepers committing sexual abuse in Congo and the theft of UN funds by staff at the World Meteorological Office - neither of which has yet been satisfactorily addressed. Given all that, it is little surprise that staff at UN headquarters voted no confidence in the body's leadership shortly before Christmas.

Mr. Annan may not be directly responsible for the problems that have befallen the UN. But his treatment of the sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Lubbers has shown, he is far more interested in protecting the UN from Scrutiny and criticism than reforming its operations. It is time for Mr. Annan to follow Mr. Lubbers' lead by tendering his resignation.
It is about time.

Canada is a funny place when it comes to its sovereignty. We spend a great deal of time worrying about giving up our sovereignty to the United States. However, our sovereign is the Queen of England and we are now unwilling to take action without UN approval. So we will give up our sovereignty to the Security Council, which has China as a member, but we will not cooperate with the state that most resembles us for fear of giving up our sovereignty. Go figure.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/22/2005 09:05:00 a.m. TITLE: The gambling rackets ----- BODY:
There is a turf war happening in the underworld over who will control the poker racket. On one side there are the citizens and on the other is the state. States gained control of gambling by outlawing the private provision of the service. State sponsored gambling is one of the largest industries in North America. Now, with the surge in private games of Texas Hold 'em, the state has sent its soldiers to the street to put an end to the competition for the gambling dollar:

As televised tournaments make Hold'em ever more popular and mainstream, Minnesota is one of at least half a dozen states grappling with a new phenomenon: poker games with little more than bragging rights at stake. Law enforcement agencies and liquor commissions in states with lotteries, racetracks and even casinos have arrested bar owners and players in recent months, threatening fines or jail time under statutes that proponents of poker see as anachronistic.

On Wednesday, even as Mr. Kleis's bill adding Texas Hold'em to the state's list of legal card games - cribbage, skat, sheephead, bridge, euchre, pinochle, gin, 500, smear and whist - is considered by a Senate committee in St. Paul, two bars in Louisiana face administrative hearings where they could lose their liquor licenses for betting that poker would bring them a full house.

In Illinois, the liquor commission has issued $500 citations to at least four bars, two of which advertised tournaments but never held them. In California, the Department of Justice has declared that even tournaments in which no money is bet require a gaming license - and there is a moratorium on new licenses.

In Texas, a lawyer for the state prosecutors' association contends that playing for any prize - even points to be redeemed later for T-shirts or trips - is illegal, and the attorney general is expected to issue an opinion on the matter in May.

The larger question in each case is what, exactly, constitutes gambling, and whether poker will remain ensconced in backrooms or become as ubiquitous as bingo.

"We target people who want to have fun in life, not the people who want to risk millions of dollars," said Shawn Riley, president of the Amateur Poker League, which runs 500 free tournaments a week across eight states. "To gamble you have to be risking something of value. If they outlaw this, they should be outlawing dominoes and Monopoly."

But while Mr. Riley's organization bans entry fees or even drink minimums, and will prohibit prizes altogether if local officials object, its 44,000 members do amass points that lead them to regional and national tournaments where they can win a seat at the World Series of Poker, which otherwise costs $10,000 to enter. That makes it illegal, said Brian DeJean, a lawyer for the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. He says any game operated as a business - people being paid to deal, for example, or bars increasing revenues from players buying drinks - is verboten.

"We're not seeing friendly games where five people show up and sit around the table, what we're seeing is games where somebody is making some money," Mr. DeJean said. "We would not be having the same conversation if every Tuesday was prostitution night in these bars."

In the vice business, the state controls everything except prostitution.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/21/2005 10:13:00 p.m. TITLE: Enshrine Marriage Canada Poll ----- BODY:
Apparently the Enshrine Marriage Canada((EMC) gang have commissioned a poll that shows Jim Prentice is on the wrong side of the gay marriage debate. The poll was carried out by the Logit Group. At Relapsed Catholic there is the press release. Here is a portion:

“Taken as a whole, the people of this riding are divided,” said Gairdner. “When we asked them about changing the definition of marriage, 50.1 per cent of all voters supported the change and 49.8 per cent opposed the change. However, 82 per cent of all voters want to be consulted. Clearly, at a minimum, Jim Prentice needs to talk to his voters. Frankly, he needs to really listen to his own Conservative voters who oppose the change.”

“So, if Jim Prentice is listening to anyone, it’s people who didn’t vote for him like Liberals and New Democrats because three quarters of Conservatives oppose him on this. He’s certainly not listening to people in his own party or people who actually voted for him in June 2004.”

The professional study was commissioned by EMC and performed by the Logit Group of Toronto from 7-8 February 2005. In it a random sampling of 400 eligible voters (with a margin of error of +/-4.9 per cent) in Calgary North Centre were asked for their views.

This is the fourth in a series of public opinion polls EMC has commissioned. The first was a national survey and two others before this one that surveyed the Avalon riding in Newfoundland held by Liberal MP John Efford and Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario held by NDP MP Tony Martin.

“Consistently, Canadian voters -– in different corners of the country, represented by MPs from different parties -– are telling their elected officials they support the traditional definition of marriage,” said Gairdner. “Jim Prentice is wrong. He’s on the wrong track and I would not be surprised if he paid a political price for his approach to this vital issue.”

Where to start? First, The Logit Group, are members of both the Professional Marketing Research Society and the Marketing Research Association and I believe it is safe to assume that they have done a credible job. The problem is that the poll is not posted on the EMC web site nor the Logit site. Essentially we do not know how the questions were framed. We are only getting the EMC interpretation.

Second, they sure picked their ridings. John Efford is a Cabinet Minister and, as such, he has been whipped; he must vote with the government or be removed from Cabinet. Anyone from Newfoundland will tell you that a poll in his district, made up of Catholics and Pentecostals, was completely unnecessary. However, if Efford was not in the dog house over the offshore revenue issue, any Newfoundlander would tell you that Efford could vote with the government on this one and still win in a landslide. Gay Marriage is the least of his problems. Danny Williams footprint on the back of his neck is the problem.

Third, there is a majority in Calgary North Centre who support gay marriage and, while EMC may believe that an MP only represents those who vote for the MP, Jim Prentice represents the constituents of Clagary Centre even if they voted Natural Law.

Finally, it is hard to believe that there is a political price to pay for Jim Prentice. If Conservative voters abandon Prentice over this issue, where will they park their vote? The Liberals? The NDP? There was a commie candidate. Prentice received in excess of 54% of the vote. The Liberal received just over 21% of the vote. It is going to take a bit of a shift to toss out Jim. I guess he could be challenged in the nomination, but I expect that the Christian Heritage guys did that the last time around.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/21/2005 06:32:00 p.m. TITLE: The Equalization Waiting Game. ----- BODY:
Saskatchewan and Ontario are attempting to keep up the pressure on the Federal Liberals for a new equalization deal. Apparently, the Newfoundland offshore deal is patently unfair to both of these provinces. Perhaps it is, but where were Premiers Calvert & McGuinty when Paul Martin was promising Newfoundland, and then at the last minute Nova Scotia, a new deal? They were silent. Why?

In Ontario the obvious answer is McGuilty had done enough damage to his Federal counterparts by breaking his promise on raising taxes. The not so obvious is that both McGuinty and Clavert wanted the Newfoundland Government to succeed. They were aware of the special deal and hoped that what was good for the goose would be good for the gander. Silence was the key to success. McGuinty even sent Danny Williams a little note of encouragement.

The media are now lock in step with Saskatchewan and Ontario. A question must also be asked of them. Where was the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail when Martin was making his promises? They were writing endorsements for the man. It is rather rich, to use the political pundit phrase of the year, for the Star or the Globe to be editorializing now that the deal is unfair when they were silent at the most salient time.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/21/2005 06:17:00 p.m. TITLE: What is the soft power doing today? ----- BODY:
Who knows? George Bush on the other hand had a big day:
  1. He told Putin to get over his dictatorial ways or kiss the WTO goodbye.
  2. Then he told Syria to get the hell out of Lebanon. He did not say "or else", but we all know that he means "or else". France, Syria's ally during the Iraq war, has switched sides on this one. They are squarely with the Yanks in getting a UN Resolution. Where they will be when Syria ignores the resolution is the big question. (Canada, Syria's ally during the Iraq war, will either have to mass its troops on the US border or climb back in with the Yanks on this one. We will have to see how the polls are looking in Quebec.)
  3. Bush concluded his day by telling Iran that it is no go on their nuclear program, even if the Russians are willing to help out.
A hard power with hard words for three brutal regimes. What was the soft power doing today? Trying to get a baby sitting job.

(Of course, the Liberals were not the only ones looking at the polls.)
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/21/2005 11:18:00 a.m. TITLE: Hey Monte... ----- BODY:
Ever hear of the Romanow Report Solberg? Give the executive summary a read sometime if you want to see the collectivist ideology of Roy Romanow. Non-ideological indeed.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/20/2005 09:20:00 p.m. TITLE: NHL Season Gone? Who Cares. ----- BODY:
The NHL season is cancelled and the polls are showing that Canadians do not care. This is being held out as a sign of the sorry state of the league since expansion. What crap. Major League Baseball cancelled the World Series and the fans swore that they would never be back. Guess what? The fans came back and in record numbers. Yes Canadians love hockey, but it is just entertainment. Despite the cries to the contrary, Thursday nights rolled on after Cheers. The Canadian Fan will be back.

Let's give credit to the owners - by locking out the players before the season started an active season was not cancelled. The lockout maintained the status quo, no hockey. Canceling the season changes nothing, there is still no hockey. The owners were even good enough to let it be known prior to the lockout that it was unlikely that there would be hockey this year. So while the guys who make a living reporting on hockey lived in hope of something to report on, the fan tuned out after the World Championships last summer.

Canada is an inward looking country. We only look out to see if anyone has noticed us. Thus, it is inconceivable that hockey could be in trouble as a sport. We love it, it is only the Americans who do not get it. Apparently Winnipeg and Quebec never happened. It is only a rumor that Edmonton asked to cease operations if a deal was struck that did not include the cap. The game is in trouble because it likes to pretend that it is a major league sport.

The NHL can only succeed as a business if the league becomes more competitive. The player response that the General Managers have to control their own spending condemns the smaller market teams to perpetual mediocrity which means less fans which means bad business. In Canada, where we love the game, it is actually bad business for the Leafs to go out and put a winner on the ice. So long as they have enough talent to be a pretender and get a couple of playoff rounds they maximize return. Hell, Harold Ballard showed that a perpetual loser was a money maker in Toronto. The same cannot be said of most cities in almost any sport.

UPDATE : Feb 21, 2005 : Add the Ottawa Senators to the list of Canadian Teams that support the cap/
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/19/2005 10:42:00 a.m. TITLE: Mr.Dithers keeps them coming back ----- BODY:
The word on the St. John's and Ottawa Streets these days is that Brian Tobin is starting to put his political team back together. This may be an indication of the trouble that Mertin is in or it may be that Tobin was so easily exposed as all fluff and no substance in the real world that he wants either (a) to get back in the safe world of politics; or (b) he needs to build up another war chest before retiring to spend more time with his family.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/18/2005 10:55:00 p.m. TITLE: More Political Advertising ----- BODY:
Advertising is the patronage plumb. Via CBC Radio:
Offshore ad contract awarded without tender
Last Updated: Feb 18 2005 07:08 AM NST

ST. JOHN'S - The provincial government is spending more than $150,000 to promote the offshore oil deal it signed with Ottawa, in a contract that has the Opposition fuming.

The contract for the advertising – which will involve television and newspaper spots celebrating the new Atlantic Accord – was not tendered. It was awarded to M5, an advertising company with strong ties to the Progressive Conservatives. M5's vice-president, Craig Tucker, was co-chair of the Tory election campaign in 2003.
Tucker was also recently appointed to the board of directors of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Opposition leader Roger Grimes says the government is funnelling money to their political friends. "It's clear that there was no process," Grimes says. "It was directed from the premier's office and a well-connected company was given an opportunity to fill their coffers."

This week's signing ceremony, the M5 contract and the newspaper and televisions ads will cost taxpayers about $200,000 in all. The federal government will cover some of those costs.

Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan says government did not have to go to tender to award the advertising contract it had to M5. He adds the cost is small compared to the $2-billion advance the provincial government will be receiving as part of the offshore pact.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with going out to the public and making the people feel good about an issue," Sullivan says. Sullivan says this advertising campaign is modest in scope, especially when it is compared to marketing blitzes conducted by previous Liberal administrations.
The Liberals under Tobin/Grimes set the standard for using the public purse for partisan advertising. Tobin learned at Chretien's knee. That is the problem Grimes faces - he came out of a corrupt regime thus he loses the right to criticize. Newfoundlanders, however, should ask why the Williams government is starting down the same road?

What purpose, other than political, can this advertising campaign have? The Tories were strong critics of the Liberals for larger scale versions of the same thing and Williams promised nothing during his election campaign except that it would not be business as usual. The reason that the Newfoundland economy is such poor shape is that successive governments have spent too much time and money buying votes by "making the people feel good about an issue".

The Government should learn a lesson here, if they want to make the tough choices that will be good for the province in the long term, there cannot even be a whiff that they are using the public purse inappropriately. It would be like buying a private jet on the day that you are about to ask your employees to take a pay cut. It just won't do. And neither will political advertising on the public dime.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/18/2005 10:22:00 p.m. TITLE: No Freedom Under Religion ----- BODY:
You do not have to be a historian or even that knowledgeable of current events to realize that there is no freedom under religious laws, regardless of the religion. Via Relapsed Catholic, we see that there is a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to preserve the traditional (religious) definition of marriage. Please do not sign.

The Charter sets our rights and freedoms for individuals, including freedom of religion. It is this freedom of religion that prevents the government from dictating that religious organizations must perform or recognize any form of marriage. If the Catholic Church will not perform an inter-denominational marriage, then that is the Catholic Church's business.

Once we start on a process that, in effect, limits a Charter right then it will be fair game for every interest group to act in that manner. Traditional marriage today, censorship tomorrow.

Freedom of religion yes. Freedom under religion? Never. Look at Iran and see how they are making out in the individual freedom department. Look at Quebec in the 1950s. Read up on your dark ages. There was a guy named Galileo who found out the hard way about subversive thought. Ever hear of a witch hunt? Let's not start down this road.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/18/2005 02:01:00 p.m. TITLE: Wanted: Baby Sitting Job. Call Ken Dryden ----- BODY:
The Feds cannot seem to get that baby sitting job that they always wanted. With the extra cash they were going to pay for adequate health care. Who knows, there may even be some left over for defence.
Ontario's doctor shortage is taking a turn for the worse as the last six physicians in the town of Geraldton are quitting en masse, presenting another headache for Health Minister George Smitherman.
The move will leave the local hospital and thousands of patients with no physicians when the departures take effect in May — unless months of failed efforts to recruit replacement physicians suddenly pay off. Losing its doctors will likely move Geraldton to the top of the list of about 140 cities and towns in the province officially designated by the government as being short of doctors. About 100 of those are in southern Ontario.
The Ontario Medical Association estimates one million Ontarians don't have family physicians and says that number is likely to grow with hundreds of doctors — many of them over 65 — within a few years of retiring.
Its a good thing that Smitherman stopped the American hordes ( otherwise known as private C.T. Scan providers) from crossing the border. Now he simply has to pass a law stopping the Doctors of Geradton from leaving town.

Big Doctor announces: The number of doctors is up 300%.Waiting lists are non-existent. There is no doctor shortage. There never was a doctor storage. Big Doctor loves you.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/18/2005 01:48:00 p.m. TITLE: Canseco did not cheat ----- BODY:
Former Red Sox outfielder, Mike Greenwell wants the world to know that Jose Canseco cheated him out for the 1988 MVP by using steroids:
In his heart, Mike Greenwell knows that he will never be able to capture the MVP trophy that he lost out on to admitted steroid user Jose Canseco back in 1988. However, Greenwell thinks that some good can come out of Canseco's brutal honesty.

"Jose is actually a good guy. I was teammates with him [in 1995 and '96]," said Greenwell. "I think sometimes he's gotten a bad rap, but I consider him a friend. I never said a word. Why would I say anything now? The only reason I'm saying something now is because he brought it to the table, so I want him to know, and I want the people to know, [Canseco won the MVP] cheating."

Greenwell sympathizes with many other players who might have lost awards or records to players who were using illegal supplements.

My question for Greenwell is, what rule was it that Canseco was breaking?

The press reporting on the baseball steroid scandal is as disingenuous as the reporting on the Liberals' adscam. Everyone knew that there was something going on, they just looked for a different story. Everyone knew that Canseco was a juice monster. Everyone knew that there were plenty of steroid users. There was no testing and no one was asking for testing. The rules were not in place.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/18/2005 08:37:00 a.m. TITLE: George Bush is Stupid ----- BODY:
What a maroon ... check this out:
"And it is clear that, if the Syrians are in Lebanon, it is because peace should be kept, and there was certainly a failure."
What? He never heard of the UN Resolution calling for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon? He thinks that they are peace keepers?...... wait a second.... this is a quote from Paul Martin. Well he's from Canada so he cannot be stupid. He must be misquoted or something. No, apparently the irony was missed:
"If in speaking ironically about the fact that the Syrians believe that they are there to maintain the peace and explosions of that kind occur, that is not maintaining the peace," Mr. Martin said. "If honourable members have difficulty understanding that, then let me again repeat the Canadian government's position, the position that we have had from the very beginning. We support the United Nations resolution. Syria should withdraw from Lebanon."
Martin isn't stupid, the opposition is stupid. And so is George Bush.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/16/2005 08:35:00 a.m. TITLE: How we found ourselves in the Kyoto Mess ----- BODY:
Jean Chretien is no policy wonk, a master politician perhaps, but a policy wonk no. Yet it was this man, when the first smell of the sponsorship scandal hit, who committed Canada to Kyoto to get the bad political story off the front page. Excellent politics, poor policy. But policy be damned! The job of Chretien was politics and it is politics that keeps the Liberal government heading down this economically destructive road.

The United States has not signed on, nor India, nor China. The Russians came in late, but they did so only to sell emission credits for good old hard currency. It is estimated that Canada will have to spend billions upon billions purchasing these credits to meet our Kyoto goals. Who will we be buying them from? From every tyranny and Banana Republic on the face of the earth. We are then supposed to delude ourselves into thinking that the governments of these states are going to act in the exact opposite way than they have always acted - that they will use this money to better the lot of their people, to build the institutions and infrastructure that is necessary for prosperity. It is aid without the human rights string attached. The money will be used to line the pockets of the ruling elite and to build up military power. Military power to be used against their own people. I'm sure Mr. Chretien's friend Robert Mugabe wishes he was 20 years younger.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/15/2005 09:52:00 p.m. TITLE: Anti-Terrorism Bill, The Tamil Tigers and Liberal appeasement ----- BODY:
The Anti-Terrorist Bill and Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan came under some scrutiny yesterday before the Senate committee. The Star focuses on the racial profiling aspect. The Globe & Mail sees it the same way. However, if anyone watched Don Newman they would have seen the more interesting part.

The Bill allows for the listing of terrorist entities that are banned from operating in the country. Not on the list are the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) and Conservative Senator John Lynch-Staunton took the Deputy Prime Minister to task about it. (The following "quotes"are from notes I took so they may not be verbatim. You can watch the whole thing here)

Senator: The Bill allows for the listing of terrorist entities ... why are the Tamil Tigers not on that list when they are banned in the United States, Britain and elsewhere?

McLellan: The list is constantly being reviewed and updated. It is not static. I continue to monitor that situation very closely.

Senator: What more information do you need when you know that the United States, Britain, Australia, Malaysia's and others have banned them?

McLellan: It was related to me ... because there was hope for peace talks in Sir Lanka it was hoped that the process would lead to some sort of peace negotiation and it was perceived that it would not be helpful if this country listed the Tigers. But I want to reassure everyone here that I review the organization on a regular basis and I will continue to review that situation.

Senator: But money is being raised in Canada and shipped over to Sir Lanka to be used for terrorist activities. That is a known fact. That is a known fact, yet the government refuses to put the name where it belongs - on the list of terrorist entities so the government can move in, seize bank accounts and arrest people who continue to support rebels and terrorists.

McLellan: Senator, I take your point.
For those who are wondering why the Tigers are not on the list, know that 300,000 Tamils live in the Toronto area and hold the balance of power in up to 10 federal seats. For some background on Tiger activities you can read this

A look at the Tamil Tiger's website gives you this:

Subject: Re: Attendance at FACT Fundraising Dinner 2001
Date: Tue, 09 Jan 2001 10:43:27 -0500

There has been a lot of media coverage given to the Federation
Association of Canadian Tamil's Fundraising Dinner 2001. Newspapers
ranging from the Toronto Star to the National Post have written about
Paul Martin and Maria Minna's attendance at this "terrorist fundraiser".

However little has been mentioned about the other members of government
from the federal, provincial, and municipal level.

The following is a list of attendees obtained from The World Mirror.

Paul Martin, Cabinet Minister, MP, Liberal
Maria Minna, Cabinet Minister, MP, Liberal
John Nanziata, former M.P., Independent
Roy Cullen, M.P.
Tony Ianno, M.P.
John McKay, M.P.
Judy Sgro, M.P.
Tom Wappel,M.P Byron Wilfert, M.P. Jim Karigiyanis,M.P.
Joseph Volpe,M.P.
Carl Defaria MPP,
Gerry Phillips, MPP,
Dan Newman MPP,
Steve Gilchrist MPP
David Caplan MPP
Monte Kwinter MPP
Rosario Marchese,MPP.
Bas Balkisson, Toronto City Councillor
Pam McCornel, Toronto City Councillor
Raymond Cho, Toronto City Councillor
Norman Kelly, Toronto City Councillor
Mike Strobel, Editor of the Toronto Sun

The $60 a plate fundraiser has been portrayed as an event held by a
front organization of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

In light of this fact, do you plan on attending any future event
organized by FACT?

A response would be appreciated.

I recognize a lot of those names and while they are no longer attending Tigerfest, one guy sure is still hanging with the Tigers (via Proud to be Canadian):

An atrocious comparison
National Post editorial
September 28, 2004

It is bad enough that on Saturday the Ontario legislature became the scene of a so-called Tamil “peace” rally—at which flags of the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist group based in Sri Lanka, were proudly waved.

But far more disturbing was the presence of federal NDP [New Democratic Party] leader Jack Layton at the event. Mr. Layton’s decision to participate lends an endorsement to the Tamil Tigers, a radical and violent terrorist group that has perpetrated dozens of suicide bombings during its long campaign of terror against Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority, including the assassination of Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Mr. Layton took the stage in front of a huge picture of Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, then proceeded to compare the Tamil terrorist head to former South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela.

Comparing Prabhakaran, who is wanted by Interpol for murder and terrorism, to a statesman such as Mr. Mandela is atrociously ignorant. Mr. Prabhakaran presides over a cult-like group that has murdered thousands, recruited children at gunpoint to fill its ranks and extorted millions of dollars from peaceable Tamils.

It would be interesting to hear Mr. Layton explain how exactly this figure can be compared to Mr. Mandela, a champion of the campaign against South African apartheid. Those operations was often violent. But Mr. Mandela and his comrades were generally careful to avoid civilian casualties. Certainly, they never precipitated the sort of wanton slaughter that has been attributed to Mr. Prabhakaran.

Can Mr. Layton really not see the difference between the two? Or—as we suspect—is he aware, but willing to cynically overlook them in an attempt to find favour with an influential ethnic community? What a sad display from a man who purports to be the principled leader of Parliament’s most humane party.

So, is anyone still wondering why the Tamil Tigers are not on the terrorist list? Have a look at Jim Karygiannis, MP's website. He was really hanging with the Tigers.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/15/2005 09:20:00 p.m. TITLE: Free Vote? Part 3 ----- BODY:
The Tories are having a free vote on the gay marriage issue. The position of the party is no position, but they have run ads opposing the legislation, they have become the new multi-culturalists, and now the leader is going to review the speeches of his MPs before they are delivered in the commons.

The Liberal spin is that Harper is attempting to strong arm his MPs. The reality is that Harper is probably more concerned about what the Randy Whites of his party are going to say. The official Tory line certainly indicates this:
Opposition Leader Stephen Harper's office defended a policy Monday of asking to see Conservative MPs' speeches on same-sex marriage before they're delivered in the House of Commons.

It is necessary to ensure that arguments made on either side of the issue by Conservatives are clearly focused on the definition of marriage and nothing else, said Harper communications director Geoff Norquay.

Brian Pallister puts it another way:

MP Brian Pallister indicated the vetting would avoid a polarized view of the issue.

"We've got to get beyond this . . . one side accusing the other of homophobia and the other side saying the other side is going to burn in hell," he said.

"We have to talk about this sensitively and that's what we're doing in caucus."

Cutting through all of this, one would assume that a free vote would include a free debate.
If Ms. Gallant or Mr. White have some strong opinions on this subject, let's hear those opinions clearly.

From a strategic point of view it would be best for the Conservative Party if all positions were aired in the House for two reasons:
  1. The vetting of the speeches is only going to give rise to more talk of a hidden agenda.
  2. The vetting of the speeches only takes away from the fact that a large number of Liberals are going to vote against the legislation.
Of course no one should be surprised by Harper's actions. The word on the street in Ottawa is that the leaders office is doing whatever it can to control the resolutions that come to the floor at the policy convention.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/15/2005 09:18:00 p.m. TITLE: Blog Problems ----- BODY:
Some time this morning I could no longer post to this site. Let's see if it's working now.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/15/2005 08:31:00 a.m. TITLE: I cannot find it in the bible ----- BODY:
Evangelical Christians are having a Public Relations problem:
"Recognizing that many Americans worry about their influence following President Bush's re-election,evangelicals are saying that they have been misunderstood : -- and in some ways -- remain underdogs in a nation they consider hostile to public talk about faith."

I have opined a couple of times that the religious right, for the most part, want simply to be respected . However, there is more to the equation than simple optics. A component of the evangelical movement cannot seem to separate their beliefs and rights from government action that affects the rights of non-evangelicals. From getting creationism taught in the schools to the ten commandments in the court, the evangelical movement has gone beyond public speech to push for imposed public speech.

The thing that I cannot understand, as the fundamentalist Christian votes in hope of a judicial appointment that will overturn Roe v. Wade, is the motivation. There is nothing in the bible to support such activity. Jesus commanded his followers to spread his word, and if it was not accepted, to shake the sand form their sandals and walk away. He did not command his followers to get elected, or appointed to the bench, and then impose their beliefs.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/14/2005 01:53:00 a.m. TITLE: Lebanese PM Dead in car bombing ----- BODY:
A car bomb has gone off in Beirut killing former PM Rafik Hariri and at least 8 others. Hariri was known for being opposed to the Syrian occupation of the country.

UPDATE: CBC News World gave Robert Fisk a gig on this one.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/10/2005 04:31:00 p.m. TITLE: I have a bomb so pay attention to me. ----- BODY:
Peaktalk is questioning the latest Nuke announcement by North Korea and with good reason: Kim Jong Il's is quoted in a press release as saying:
Pay attention to me! Not Iran! Me! ........ I have nukes!!!!!!! Big Nukes!!!! They can reach Hawaii!!!!! ...................Hello?????? I just bought an iguana..... .

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/10/2005 03:14:00 p.m. TITLE: Martin testimony is over ----- BODY:
Martin, only the second sitting PM to testify before a commission of inquiry, has finished up his testimony. To sum up: Martin knew nothing...nothing I tell you! He was saving the country from deficit while Chretien was saving the country from the separtists. Actually, an interesting thing was the testimony showed the distance that there was between Chretien and Martin. Even back in 1995 Martin was not welcome with the Chretien gang.

Another interesting thing was that Gomery questioned whether the Sponsorship Program was really a "program". The inference being that it was just a big old money pit, or as Wente called it today, a slush fund.

With the end of the first phase of the Inquiry it is safe to conclude that another institution killed by the Chretien Liberals was ministerial responsibility and accountability. Chretien owned the program but he is not responsible for its mismanagement. Neither were Gagliano, Dingwall, Martin or anyone at Treasury Board. A slush fund was created in the name of saving the country from the separtisits, but it was used for the whims of the politicos. A movie to be shown in China, neck ties for foreign trips, golf balls for the PM to give to foreign dignitaries, the Blue Nose and the list goes on. Each sponsorship creating commissions on top of commissions for ad firms who,in turn, gave donations upon top of donations back to the governing Liberal Party. And every politico who testified indicated a complete lack of responsibility.

Let's forget that Gagliano has changed his story, as has Guite. Let's ignore the fact that the PM co-signed Treasury Board requests to ensure that they went through. Let's forget that virtually every civil servant has testified about political decision making. The politicians have set the standard - unless they struck the deal themselves, called up the ad firm, asked for a donation and then picked up the cheque in person while being videotaped, you should not even be asking whether they are responsible. They were all too busy running to country, not that they are responsible for anything that went wrong while they were doing so.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/10/2005 02:28:00 p.m. TITLE: The Politics of Advertising ----- BODY:
Via Norman Spector:

The Ottawa Citizen’s Jack Aubry reports:

“Written by Peter Daniel, the Finance Department's assistant deputy minister of communications, the memo concludes they had reached "an intractable difference of opinion between Finance (the client) and APORS (Advertising and Public Opinion Research Sector)," which is operated by Public Works to contract out the work.

The memo said while Ekos had shown "a high level of sensitivity and understanding" of "the political context" of the program during interviews for the contract, the winning bidder, DJC, lacked "the knowledge and sensitivity" required for the job.

"Given the profile the program will have, it will be crucial to get good press for what the government is attempting to accomplish at the outset. Failing that, all the advertising and other promotion we could do is not likely to bring the expected results," wrote Mr. Daniel.

The memo is part of the paper trail showing Finance Department officials intervening to split up the contract and give half, or $300,000, to Ekos/ Earnscliffe.

Charles Guité, the bureaucrat who operated the scandal-plagued sponsorship program for the Liberals, has alleged that Mr. Martin's staff intervened in public opinion contracts and another memo regarding the matter has already been tabled at the Gomery commission.”
The sensitivity that is being discussed is in the "political context". In other words, the political interest of the Liberal Party. The Liberals want is to know if you will vote for them but they want to pay for the knowledge with the taxpayers money. Government advertising is for the Liberal government. As Mr. Martin testified today, the government wants the credit. What he means is that the Liberals want the credit.

This is not to suggest that the other parties would have done otherwise. But herein lies the fundamental problem with the government controlling or regulating just about anything: in a political process the first consideration will always be politics.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/10/2005 12:11:00 p.m. TITLE: Paul Martin's Big Day ----- BODY:
Prime Minister Paul Martin is testifying before the Gomery Inquiry. Thus far he has acquitted himself quite well. With new polls showing the Liberals sliding in popularity this is a big day for the PM. If he comes across as frank, truthful and respectful, he may well be able to put the sponsorship mess behind him, leaving it in the lap of Chretien, Gagliano et al.

Sponsorship existed in a "everyone knows what's going on, but no one knows what's going on" world. That Martin knew of the sponsorship program there is no doubt. He "knew" that Chretien and his gang had some play money that was designed to keep them in power. He "knew" that the money was being misused. But he can honestly say that he was out of the loop and well he was. Chretien kept Martin out of the his power base. Martin never stopped being a leadership rival. Chretien was not going to have Martin playing in his backyard. Martin did not want to get caught up in Chretien's antics, whatever those antics may well have been.

Thus while Martin knew what was going on, he had no idea what was going on.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/09/2005 07:42:00 a.m. TITLE: Another Isolated Incident ----- BODY:
What more can be said about the petty corruption of Canadian police?

The institutions of this country are becoming a joke. The court is attacked from the right and the left. Judicial appointments are blatantly political. We have provincial governments attacking the rule of law through legislation, including privative clauses and disallowing defences. (first they came for the tobacco industry but I did not care because I was not a smoker. Say what you like, if the state can get away with it on tobacco, it will not stop with tobacco).

The Parliament has been stripped of not only its power but its dignity. Promises to rectify the democratic deficit have been ignored. The power vests with the PM and now that we have a minority, the government that so many pundits and the NDP told us Canadians wanted, we see the juvenile politics of the nanny state in full play. Name calling and worse case scenarios. The politics of fear. There has not been a serious debate in Parliament since T.V. cameras were allowed. Commissions of inquiry are shut down at the first sign of trouble.

The media begged off responsibility a couple of years ago when they refused to report what Chretien was saying and reported what his spinners said he meant. Clarkson is GG and Moskovitz is a VP with the BDC. Sponsorship money was accepted for advertising with no questions asked, no stories written. An AG report telling reporters what they already knew but could not be bothered to report.

The police have run amok, taking sponsorship money, targeting critics, extorting money, selling drugs, violating election laws. From the Ontario drug squad, to the Police union boss endorsing politicians. There are unconstitutional surveillance cameras place on the streets by the RCMP. The RCMP took sponsorship money and covered it up. In Newfoundland there is an inquiry ongoing into the wrongful convictions for murder of three men who were railroaded by the police.

There no longer can be police forces investigating police forces. The standard for discipline must be set out in legislation, removing it from the bargaining table. Police Associations and forces must be apolitical. We do not allow the Franciscans to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by Christian Brothers, why do we allow the Quebec provincial police to investigate the RCMP or the OPP to investigate the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary?

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/09/2005 12:54:00 a.m. TITLE: Chretien's contempt ----- BODY:
Chretien did his best today .... He denied knowledge, he staged a comedy show, he ruled the day. But what will it mean in the end for the man? Most of the evidence before the commission does not look favorable for his legacy. It is unlikely to get better when Prime Minister Martin or anyone else testifies. Chretien staged a show and the press and his loyalists loved it. But to what end? The fact remains that money was paid to advertising firms for little or no work and those firms in turn donated money to the Liberal Party. The fact that they are Nationalists in Quebec does not mean that they must be Liberal supporters Federally. The fact remains that political direction was given for disbursement of monies often for inappropriate goods and services.

Sure Chretien made his point on the small town cheap comment with the golf balls, but herein lies the rub. Chretien's orchestrated golf ball show was designed simply to show his complete contempt for the process and the Commissioner. He succeeded. However, the fact remains that these balls were paid for out of funds that were supposed to be for promoting national unity. Why were they purchased in the wrong manner? Doesn't the PM have a budget for this sort of thing? The fact that the PM had golf balls with his name on them is not the issue, it is the manner in which they were procured. The balls show the contempt that Chretien held the taxpayers and Parliament.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/09/2005 12:13:00 a.m. TITLE: More Aid Please ----- BODY:
The UN is calling for more foreign aid but:
In Sri Lanka, corruption is hampering aid operations. Officials have been accused of plundering relief supplies, demanding bribes from tsunami victims and being drunk on duty.

Several people were suspended last week, with others under investigation.

The UN World Food Program will soon dispatch more food aid monitors to try and "abolish any corruption within the government system," co-ordinator Dawit Getachew said.

As I noted here, the answer is to keep throwing money at the problem.

But I do have a question, what exactly are the UN Food Program's Food Aid Monitors going to do to abolish corruption within the government sysem of Sir Lanka? I mean if the UN has had the means to end corruption with food aid monitors, and they have been holding out for a tidal wave, then I'm sure there are a lot of pissed off Mexicans, Russians, Indians, ........
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/08/2005 07:30:00 a.m. TITLE: Gay Marriage Poll ----- BODY:
The SES Research Poll on same sex marriage is out. (You may recall that Nik Nanos of SES was pretty well the only pollster company to call the last Federal Election correctly). Check out the whole thing.

This is the synopsis I received via email from SES:
The SES Research Poll completed last week indicates that Canada is a nation divided on the issue of same sex marriage. A majority of Canadians 54% think that MPs should reflect the views in his/her riding. Fifty-three percent of Canadians would not vote against their MP if their views differed while 42% would vote against their MP (5% were unsure). Random telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted by SES Research between Jan. 28 and Feb. 2, 2005 (MoE ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20). Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding. Question - Some people think that same-sex couples should be allowed to be legally married and be recognized like couples made up of a man and a woman. Other people think that only marriages between a man and woman should be legally recognized. Which of these two opinions, if either, best reflects your views? 46% Marriage only a man and a woman 45% Allow same-sex couples to marry 5% Neither 4% Unsure Question - If your local Member of Parliament had views different from your own on the issue of same-sex marriages, would you vote against your federal MP for that reason? 53% Would not vote against MP 42% Would vote against MP 5% Undecided Question - Thinking of the upcoming vote on same-sex marriage should your Member of Parliament vote based on..[ROTATE] 54% The views in his/her riding 22% His/her personal views 16% His/her official party position 8% Undecided For any media use of the polling data, please refer to the research as the "SES Research Poll". Visit to get the latest polling results or to sign up for instant e-mail polling notifications. Feel free to forward this e-mail.

I have done my fair share of communications and policy consulting over the years. I first heard of SES from a buddy of mine back in 1999 when, during the Newfoundland Provincial election, they did a political poll that seemed so skewed that the press would not publish it (the poll showed the Tories trending upwards and predicted an increase in the number of Tory seats. The conventional wisdom was that Brian Tobin would reduce the Tories to one, maybe two seats) It turned out that the poll was dead on. During the last Federal Election, SES did daily tracking for CPAC. They came the closest to getting it right.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/07/2005 03:30:00 p.m. TITLE: The Eagles are terrible ----- BODY:
I was not going to post on the Pats Super Bowl victory ... I congratulated the Pats weeks ago... however, I think that I feel compelled to comment on just how bad the Eagles were. The Pats gave the game away - key penalties, no first downs, no points off of turnovers. If the Eagles were even a half decent team they could have beat the Pats who played the worst playoff game that they have played in the last four years. So its again congrats to the Pats ... you got away with one... and to the Eagles ... thanks for showing up.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/07/2005 03:20:00 p.m. TITLE: Mid-East Players ----- BODY:
Look out for a big role for Canada in middle east peace talks:

"Canada can be a suitable honest broker because of its long-standing good relations with Israel and its good rapport with Arab countries," Pettigrew said.

"We want our credibility on both sides to be used, just as Canada's excellent ties with the European Union and the United States can be effectively utilized to facilitate the Middle East peace process."

But you have to check out the reply:
In response, Shalom said: "This is a great time of optimism for all of us in the region and around the world, and we're determined to seize this opportunity."

Wow! Pettigrew's got game! Of course the opportunity that Shalom references is not the opportunity to have Canada in the middle of things.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/02/2005 05:27:00 p.m. TITLE: Havel for Secretary ----- BODY:
On any given day I am not sure if I have any readers... so for what it is worth, I add my vote for Vaclav Havel as the next UN secretary. His admonishment of the EU in this article is great.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/02/2005 03:05:00 p.m. TITLE: Rand's waiting room ----- BODY:
Ayn Rand would have been 100 years of age today. To commemorate the author of Atlas Shrugged, let's look into her waiting room:

Over 5m Germans were without a job last month, more than at any time since the Great Depression. The government cannot solve the unemployment problem without first making it worse

Wednesday February 2nd by Germany’s Federal Labour Agency. More than 5m Germans were unemployed last month, the agency revealed, the most since 1932, when the economic devastation of the Great Depression brought the Weimar Republic to an unhappy end.


Labour markets rarely function perfectly. But Germany’s labour market is not really a market at all. It abjures free competition, which it likens to the law of the jungle. Firing is a last resort. Wages are negotiated collectively. These clubby, consensual arrangements served Germany well for several decades after the war, winning the country an enviable industrial peace. But they have now become, in effect, a conspiracy of insiders against outsiders. The 5m outsiders, who lack a job, might be prepared to work for less than those who have a job. But employee protections and union rules insulate the insiders from any competitive threat the outsiders might offer. As a result, the insiders maintain wages above the level that would make it profitable for employers to hire those out of work.

The longer they remain out of work, the less the unemployed make their presence felt in the labour market. Writing about the Great Depression, Brad DeLong, an economic historian at the University of California, noted that the long-term unemployed become “discouraged and distraught”. After a year without work, “a job must arrive at his or her door, grab him or her by the scruff of the neck, and throw him or her back into the nine-to-five routine if he or she is to be employed again.”

In Germany, jobs are hardly knocking at the door. But thanks to the Hartz reforms, the long-term unemployed are having their collars felt a little. Employment agencies, which used to passively process their benefit cheques, are now supposed to take an active role in placing them in new jobs. They will employ as many as 600,000 of them in jobs that pay €1 per hour plus unemployment benefits. Those who turn down a job offer will have some or all of their benefits withheld.

Opponents of these reforms argue that there is simply not enough work to go round. Such arguments often lapse into what economists call “the lump-of-labour fallacy”, which retains its commonsensical appeal however often economists prove it false. In any economy, the fallacy says, there is only a fixed amount of work (a lump of labour) to do. There is, then, no point throwing the unemployed back into work. Instead, if everyone works a little less, the lump of labour can be sliced more evenly among the population. The French enshrined this fallacy in law in 1998, ruling that no one could work more than 35 hours a week. But such a restriction has proved hard to live with. The law has been weakened several times, and on Tuesday the French National Assembly began debating ways to remove the last of its teeth.

The demand for labour is not a fixed lump. Employers will keep hiring until it ceases to be profitable to do so. The ultimate limits on an economy are on the supply-side: eventually, the labour market will tighten and inflationary pressures will emerge. France’s 35-hour week, which restricts the supply of labour, lowers this limit. Germany’s overhaul of the benefit system, by contrast, raises the supply of labour, relaxing the limits on the country’s economic performance.

Unfortunately, the German economy is still far from testing those limits. Inflation is low, leaving plenty of room for the economy to expand. But the animal spirits of households and firms are falling short. Indeed, some economists worry that efforts to resolve Germany’s supply-side problems may be worsening the economy’s demand-side difficulties. A reform that adds 222,000 people or more to the jobless totals may do little to bolster household confidence and spending. Retail sales fell in December, for the third month in four.

There are some signs, however, that Germany’s spirits, though low, may be improving modestly. The ZEW indicator of economic expectations rebounded in January. Voters also now seem to accept the need for reform. An opinion survey for Stern magazine, conducted in the third week of January, put Mr Schröder’s coalition ahead of the opposition (albeit by less than the margin of error) for the first time since his re-election in September 2002. The Weimar Republic could not survive 5m unemployed. Mr Schröder may yet do so.

Also waiting...

France may lengthen 35-hour week
By Caroline Wyatt
BBC News, Paris

The French government is proposing plans to ease the rules on the country's 35-hour working week.

However, a recent poll shows that the majority of French workers do not want to work longer hours.

The French parliament was due to begin on Tuesday afternoon a three-day debate on a bill that would relax the rules.

The reform would allow workers to put in more than 35 hours a week in return for more pay if they reach a collective accord with their company and union.

The government says this reform is aimed at stimulating the economy and creating jobs.

French workers have been demonstrating over the past weeks in protest against the government's plans.

A recent poll showed that three-quarters of the French workforce want to stick to the current 35-hour working week, brought in by the last Socialist government.

Only 18% say they want to work longer hours. But French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin says action is vital to keep the French economy competitive and to create more jobs.

There is no need to exerpt the next one:
Zimbabwe announces election date
We cannot leave out fear mongerer David (the sky is falling! The sky is falling! The government must hold it up!) Suzuki:

Leaders must back Kyoto

Way back in 1997, world leaders responded to scientists' warnings that global warming had the potential to disrupt ecosystems, cause great damage to the global economy and harm our quality of life. Thus the Kyoto Protocol was born.

In less than two weeks, the protocol will finally enter into force and become international law. This means Canada will be legally obligated to reduce the heat-trapping emissions that are causing climate change.

Now, we've known about this obligation for eight years. And in that time we've done - nothing. Well, next to nothing. The federal government has vaguely pondered the issue and discussed the protocol with industry. But that's about it. In eight years, we haven't reduced the heat-trapping emissions that are causing the problem one bit.

In fact, our emissions have continued to climb - to more than 20 per cent higher than they were in 1990. That shouldn't be surprising. Business tends to continue as usual if there are no plans to change it. And the federal government has never had a plan.

Reducing emissions is both technically feasible and affordable. Other countries around the world have shown that you can reduce emissions and maintain a strong economy. In fact, reducing emissions makes an economy more competitive in the long term by making it more efficient. So as the years tick by and the science of climate change builds, Canada falls further behind. Most recently, results of the biggest-ever climate simulation were published in the journal Nature. According to the report's worst-case scenario, if carbon dioxide levels double this century as expected, temperatures could rise by an average of 11 degrees Celsius - to levels higher than they were when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

That increase is far outside the range of two to five degrees predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The reason for the difference is that this particular simulation looked at more possibilities than other models. This doesn't mean it's likely to happen, but it is one possible future if we don't get serious about climate change.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/01/2005 11:04:00 p.m. TITLE: Some Conservatives are more organized than others ----- BODY:
Over at Recovering Liberal there is this quote from The Ambler:
Every so often I come across the paranoid fantasies of liberals concerning what "conservatives" would do to Canada if ever they got the chance. Stop worrying. Canada's "conservatives" couldn't organize an orgy in a whorehouse or a piss-up in a brewery or your joke here.
It all depends on how you define conservatives I guess. The reason the CPC will not be forming a government next time around is due to the fact that religious conservatives, the law and order guys, the imposing morality conservatives, are far too organized. They get out to nominate their candidates. The problem is that there just are not enough of them to win in an election and they frighten away those who would have common cause on the economic front. It would seem that people would rather the big nanny state they loathe over the imposition of morality that they fear.

For those who have no stomach for the tax and spend Liberal Party, its increasing regulation of our lives, its corruption and complete disrespect for sound public policy, there is really no place to call home these days. You can be a socialist or an evangelical. Faith in the state to look after your needs or faith in the state to save your immortal soul. Not much of a choice.

However, the place to park your allegiance is probably the CPC. Fiscally, they have policies that at least resemble reasoned. The moral brigade have abandoned the Christian Heritage Party because they know that they will never succeed without the cover provided by a broad based party. It will not take that many new active members of the CPC to blow this cover.

( I am not convinced that the "religious right" electorate in this country want much more than to be left alone and respected. It is their leadership who want to use the mechanisms of the state to restrict the private behavior of individuals.)

Perhaps the resurrection of the Christian Heritage Party would indeed be a good thing for fiscal conservatives. They would become the NDP of the Right. The CPC then would become the option for less government, not just less economic regulation but less moral regulation as well.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/01/2005 03:50:00 p.m. TITLE: Note to PM: The Chinese do not have any rights ----- BODY:

The PM took a bit of heat during Question Period yesterday about his behavior in China. Conservative Party MP Jason Kenny stood in the House of Commons and mentioned that he had gone to give his condolences to the family of the late Zhao Zhing (a former Chinese leader who had at least allowed discussions of democratic reforms) while the PM was hanging out with the “Butchers of Beijing”, who had imprisoned Zhao and crushed democracy at Tiananmen Square.

The PM answered that the family of Zhao had asked for privacy and it was Kenny who was out of line. The PM accused Kenny of “turning tail and running” rather than meeting with the opposition parliamentarians in China. Kenny then spoke the great unspoken by Western leaders: he rightfully pointed out to the PM that there is no opposition in a totalitarian police state. Those who would be opposition are in forced labour camps or dead.

The PM response was lame; he had brought up the issue of Human Rights with the Chinese leader, and while the opposition was not the same as in Canada, Mr Kenny should look at the new “appointments” and realize that it is at least the beginnings of an opposition.

The beginnings of totalitarian government's appointed opposition? If this “opposition” actually begins to oppose the government, the opposition would get a quick trip to jail and the removal of their names from every possible record. The members of the “opposition” would never have existed. They bring forward issues that the state approves. Nothing more.

The PM'’s claim that he brought up Human Rights with the Chinese is fluff. The Chinese have gotten used to accepting the comments on human rights and then doing whatever it pleases. Martin knows this. From the Globe & Mail:

Wenran Jiang, a China expert at the University of Alberta, said Beijing has become somewhat inured to public and private pleas for human rights when receiving Western leaders.

Prof. Jiang said the Chinese government has come to realize that visitors have to make comments to satisfy public opinion back home.

"There is almost an arrangement set up now between Chinese leaders and those of foreign advanced industrialized countries: They expect Canada and others to raise these issues," Prof. Jiang said. "It's formulaic."

The problem for the PM and everyone else who talks about rights in China is that they ignore the obvious - individual Chinese have no rights. There are only privileges which may be revoked by the State arbitrarily and without notice. There is no court system to which an individual may complain. The court is simply a front for the dictatorship. The rule of law is the whim of the dictator. Any talk of greater good or interest in the people is part of the continuing lie that is heard in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Cuba. The government rules in the interest of the government, unfettered by any law.

The Prime Minister, then, has praised the non-existent rights granted by a totalitarian police state. The whims of the dictatorship. He did not attempt to meet with the Zhao family and perhaps he should not have, but to pay lip service to the truth is a damning thing.

China is making considerable strides in reducing abuses of human rights, Paul Martin said yesterday, even as its government was clamping down on public displays of mourning after the death of reform-minded leader Zhao Zions.

The death of Zhao Zhing, the former leader who had attempted to bring democratic reforms to China and for his efforts he spent the last 15 years of his life under house arrest, was just bad timing for the PM. He had to talk up human rights while the Chinese government was controlling the press and assembly surrounding the death. A Canadian TV crew was briefly detained for attempting to shoot footage of Zhao’s home.

Mr. Martin claimed that the family had requested privacy. I’m sure they did after the police told the family that it was going to be a private affair. That is why Chinese security officials were guarding the entrance to the home. In a police state, the people say what the police want. To say otherwise, firstly will not get reported, and secondly will certainly land your ass in jail, if you are lucky.

Martin raises rights issues with China to avoid criticism at home. The Chinese know that it is simply domestic politics at play. Martin knows that he is just playing politics. The Chinese smile and say, "we’re on it", and the PM smiles and knows that nothing will become of it. Martin, however owes the people of Canada and the people of China a little better than that. A true freedom fighter Mr. Zhao hardly was, but Canadian society is based on the concept of individual rights and the rule of law. Prime Minister Martin should remember who and what he is representing.

So, thanks for showing up Mr. Martin. I expect that the people of China can now have that second child that they always wanted.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/01/2005 02:42:00 p.m. TITLE: Bush was right ----- BODY:
Not a headline you see everyday: Admit It: Bush was Right on Iraq.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/01/2005 02:07:00 p.m. TITLE: Aristotle & Hockey ----- BODY:
This letter to the Editor of the Toronto Star :
It is ludicrous to continually see the two sides in the NHL hockey negotiations described as having "philosophical differences." Philosophy is the search for wisdom, ultimate reality and the general causes of universal things. To apply this term to hockey bargaining might make sense if one side were advocating for Epictetus and the Stoics while the other stressed the importance of Descartes. But since all they are debating is how much money each side should have, it is presumptuous and out of place for them to describe their positions as "philosophical." Aristotle would not be impressed.

Stephen Van Houten, Toronto

Words do have multiple meanings. A check with an Merriam-Webster's online dictionary gives as a definition of Philosophy:
a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought <>philosophy of war> <philosophy of science>
Seeing as how the owners are talking about a salary cap or a split of the revenues and the players are talking about a free market with a luxury tax. And the owners are looking at competitiveness across the league while the players are looking at maximizing earnings over the course of a short career, I would suggest that philosophical differences, or the different theories underlying the operation of the NHL, are at the heart of the matter.

Philosophy is also defined as:
the most general beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group
The Players are a group, the owners are a group. Both groups have a different concept on the operation of professional hockey, thus different philosophies.

As for Aristotle, one would expect that he would have had a fuller understanding of his language.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/01/2005 11:30:00 a.m. TITLE: Sorbara & The Star's Strange Timing ----- BODY:
Herein lies the problem with Canada ... Newfoundland gets a deal with the Feds on equalization and Ontario (the home of the auto pact, Canadian ownership rules, and Canadian content in RRSP contributions) is looking for the following:
Finance Minister Greg Sorbara insists the federal government should give Ontario an extra $4.8 billion this year, because Ottawa is in the black while this province is deep in red ink.
With Ontario generating 40 per cent of the economic activity in Canada, Sorbara says it is only right that Ottawa give the province 40 per cent of its expected surplus this year, which amounts to $4.8 billion.
Sorbara backs up his claim to the money by noting Ontario taxpayers send $23 billion more to Ottawa than they get back.
While these arguments are not particularly persuasive, no one can blame Sorbara for laying claim to a share of the federal surplus after Prime Minister Paul Martin caved in last Friday to the demands of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Where was The Star and the Minister Sorbara during the Federal Election when the PM made the promises to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia? They certainly not saying anything negative about the promise. They were not telling anyone in Ontario that the promise would not be fair to Ontarians. Why not? Would it interfere with Liberal re-election?
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 2/01/2005 10:55:00 a.m. TITLE: Gomery refuses motion to recuse ----- BODY:
To no great surprise, Gomery has refused Chretien's motion forrecusal. Gomery had this to say:

He said it was a result of his inexperience with the media.

“I realize now, with the benefit of hindsight, that it was an error for me to agree to be interviewed by the media,” Gomery said in a televised address to the inquiry.

But he said the key issue is whether he was biased or had closed his mind.

“After giving the matter careful consideration, I am firmly of the opinion that a reasonable, well-informed and fair-minded person understands the difference between committing an error and being biased.”

Now the Chretien team will have a decision to make: will they go to the Federal Court to have Gomery kicked off, or will they wait for Chretien to testify and then bring a motion to have the whole report of the Commission tossed?

I'm pretty sure that they will choose the latter.