Which right wing Canadian party would you rather vote for?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Harper Clings to Power

Stephen Harper has clung to power, managing to get his budget passed thanks to $700 million in kickbacks for Quebec, in return for the Parti Quebecois voting in favour of the new budget.

What do I think about this?

I think it will backfire disastrously and spell the end of the Conservative Party for at least 4 years after the next general election.

Harper's continued favouritism towards Quebec is not a popular idea in the rest of Canada. I predict Harper's continued ignoring of environmental needs and the needs of Canada's other provinces will eventually cause many Canadians to vote Liberal to spite the Conservatives.

Plus there's the matter of overspending... Harper has spent more in this years budget than any previous Canadian budget. To paraphrase comedian Rick Mercer on the issue, "Harper is spending Canadians tax dollars faster than a drunk liberal."

Conservatives should be spending frugally and not breaking the bank like Harper is currently doing in vain attempts to win votes in Quebec.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hey Big Spender

Mr Harper's latest over spending on the budget is coming with a price tag attached.

He's raising income taxes 16.5%.

That means Canadians will be paying an extra $1.4 BILLION in income taxes.

The overspending includes $700 million in income tax cuts for Quebec, and tax cuts for oil-rich Alberta.

So the rest of Canada is having their income taxes going up, and Quebec's income taxes are going up.

If you could see my face right now you might have a better understanding of how ANGRY this makes me.

The budget also includes tax savings for parents, roughly $310 per child.

"We made a choice," Harper says. "We chose to support hard-working families."

What he should say is that he's trying to buy votes from families, Alberta and Quebec.

So big spender, how about spending a little more on British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Labrador, Newfoundland, PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the territories? Why only give money to Alberta, Quebec and "families"? What about the poor, the elderly or students?

Hey big spender, you'll get no votes from me.

Memos raise questions on Stockwell Day's nomination

Mar 22, 2007 05:56 PM

OTTAWA – Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day's journey into the House of Commons nearly seven years ago faced renewed allegations of impropriety Thursday, with the Liberals asking the RCMP to investigate the circumstances.

The Conservatives shot back by saying the Liberals were engaging in a "drive-by smear," a favourite phrase these days in an increasingly acrimonious Commons.

Liberal MP Mark Holland said documents the party discovered last week raise new questions about whether Day's office negotiated payment to a sitting MP in exchange for his stepping aside in a B.C. riding, something prohibited in the Criminal Code.

The RCMP made some initial inquiries into the issue six years ago but said then that it would not launch a full investigation.

The force said Thursday it had received the documents and is reviewing the matter.

Holland says he believes the RCMP would not have seen the documents in question, which were found among old files in the opposition leader's office.

"Given the gravity of these allegations and the clear nature of the documents presented, will the minister of public safety, the minister responsible for Canada's national police force, do the prudent thing and step down until the RCMP is finished its investigation?" Holland said during question period.

Back in 2000, Day was the newly elected leader of the Canadian Alliance but did not have a seat in the Commons. MP Jim Hart stepped aside in July to allow Day to run in a byelection in Okanagan-Coquihalla, which he won handily that fall.

The main document released Thursday, a fax penned by Hart, outlines the agreement he believed he had negotiated with Day's then chief-of-staff, Rod Love. In it, Hart notes that he would be compensated for lost severance, income and pension benefits for resigning his seat early, an amount totalling about $62,000.

At the time, party officials said Hart had already decided to quit the Commons for another job and left early to help out Day. They said the compensation was negotiated months later because Hart's job offer later fell through.

But Hart's first letter to Love detailing a compensation deal was dated two days before his actual resignation. He also made note of the job he was to start three months later, and states that he wouldn't have quit if compensation hadn't been agreed to beforehand.

"Please realize that I took this step of resigning in good faith," Hart wrote. "I could have remained in office until the general election, finished my term and not experienced these losses. My resignation was contingent upon this negotiation."

Hart, who now lives in the Republic of Georgia, could not be reached for comment. Day defended him in the Commons.

"The only problem with drive-by smears is that innocent people get hurt," Day said. "Mr. Hart is being hurt in this process. In every conversation I had with Mr. Hart from the time I knew him, he has only been honourable about this. He deserves an apology."

Another key question around Hart's resignation is whether public funds were involved in the transaction.

Two documents penned by Canadian Alliance party officials say there was an understanding that the party would pay for half of Hart's living expenses amounting to roughly $20,000. A motion approved by the Canadian Alliance's Fund board, marked carried, says ``the intent is to get half of this amount from the OLO (Office of the Leader of the Opposition) and half from the party."

A fax cover letter from party executive director Glen McMurray to Day's office, attached to Hart's pleas for payment, reiterates the understanding and tells the office to "figure it out."

The budget of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition is paid for through the House of Commons.

At the time, Day's director of communications Ezra Levant said the payment was not an issue for the leader's office because it had been made through the party.

There is no evidence in the documents that any payment was made by Day's office. Hart eventually took the party to court to recoup his money and later settled.

Senior party officials mentioned in the documents, including Love and his deputy Hal Danchilla did not immediately return calls. Peter White, former director of the Canadian Alliance fund, said he would not speak to reporters.

Former Canadian Alliance party whip Dick Harris, now a Conservative MP, would also not respond. Neither Day's office nor the prime minister's office would answer specific questions about the documents.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said the case had already been closed.

"There is absolutely nothing new here," Van Loan said. "The RCMP investigated this matter. It looked into all the things that (Holland) has alleged and concluded that there was no wrongdoing."

During the last federal election campaign, the Conservatives called for then finance minister Ralph Goodale to resign over the leak of information into the government's income-trust policy. The NDP referred the matter to the RCMP.

Goodale's name and that of other Liberal politicians was cleared earlier this year, and a finance department bureaucrat charged in connection with the leak.

Harper's generosity to Quebec backfires

Provinces angry after Charest uses equalization payment to cut taxes
Mar 22, 2007 04:30 AM

OTTAWA–Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to mend strains in the federation appeared on the verge of backfiring after the Quebec government earmarked $700 million in new "equalization" money from Ottawa to cut Quebecers' income taxes.

The promise by Premier Jean Charest is stirring an angry reaction and more criticism of Monday's Conservative budget, which is pouring an extra $2.3 billion of federal cash into Quebec annually.

About $700 million of this federal money, intended under the "equalization" program to allow Quebecers to enjoy social programs equivalent to that of richer provinces, is being channelled into income tax cuts by Charest, who is in the final days of a hard-fought election campaign. Coupled with Charest's earlier promised tax reductions, it would allow a couple in Quebec to save about $750 a year.

Saskatchewan Finance Minister Andrew Thomson said this development has Westerners fighting mad.

"We had feared all along that that was exactly what the Prime Minister was going to do – use western oil money to buy votes in Quebec," he told the Toronto Star. "But none of us expected it to be so blatant."

Many provinces are complaining about being shortchanged in the budget. But Saskatchewan, along with Newfoundland, is accusing Harper of betraying a promise not to include non-renewable resources in the Tory-created formula for determining how much provinces receive under the federal-provincial wealth-sharing program.

The provinces say that Harper's equalization plan is a "sleight-of-hand" scheme that has cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues.

Thomson said people in Saskatchewan are even more upset "to see that in the budget this week, that there were no tax cuts for Western Canadians but tax cuts for Quebecers delivered through the equalization program."

Federal Liberals, though rooting for their provincial cousins in the March 26 Quebec election, nonetheless expressed outrage over Charest's decision to use federal money meant to equalize social services in Quebec to finance tax cuts.

"We want Charest to win but we didn't think we would have to pay for it like this," snapped Liberal MP Roy Cullen (Etobicoke North), who said he was appalled by the Quebec premier's decision.

In the Commons, the Liberals charged that Harper's approach to federal-provincial relations, far from winding down long-standing tensions between Ottawa and the premiers, is threatening national unity.

"A prime minister is supposed to unite and not divide, and a federal government is supposed to act on behalf of all Canadians," deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said in the daily question period.

"The people of Saskatchewan, B.C., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador are wondering today, `Why don't we count?'

"Why did the government introduce a budget that so obviously divides the country?"

Harper countered that his government's overhaul of federal-provincial wealth-sharing arrangements was based on the recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the previous Liberal government.

"Every single province gets more money under this budget and a lot more money as the years go by, $39 billion more," the Prime Minister said.

"This budget rewards families, it rewards seniors, it rewards truckers, it rewards farmers, it rewards soldiers. I could go on and on. The one thing that unites members of the Liberal Party is they are voting against all of them."

The blow-up over how various provinces were treated in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget appeared increasingly divisive.

In Newfoundland, radio station VOCM reported that, in an interview, Conservative MP Fabian Manning (Avalon) said he had lobbied to have non-renewable resources taken out of the equalization formula, but if he votes against the federal budget, he's as good as out of the party.

And another Conservative MP joined in the verbal jousting between the Harper government and Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert over the equalization issue.

"The premier's lying through his teeth," outspoken Saskatoon MP Maurice Vellacott told Canadian Press.

He added that Calvert, an NDP premier, is a socialist who would rather keep his province "on the federal dole" than achieve prosperity.

Calvert responded by saying that the federal Conservatives, having betrayed the provinces, can only resort to name-calling.

On the election campaign trail, Charest was unapologetic about his decision to apply his $700 million federal equalization windfall toward tax relief.

"We are making decisions in our areas of jurisdiction, and we have the full power to make decisions according to our priorities."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hybrid Cars Suck! Buy an Audi A8!

Actually hybrids don't suck.

But they're not spectacular either.

Not when you compare them to cars built using traditional aerodynamics, a more fuel-efficient engine and are built to be lightweight.

Cars like the Audi A8.

Not too long ago Jeremy Clarkson of the popular BBC television show "Top Gear" drove an Audi A8 from London England to Edinburgh Scotland and then back to London again... all on a single tank of gasoline. (It took him a day to drive there and another day to drive back. People usually fly or take the train there because its such a long hilly drive.)

Now THAT is fuel efficiency. Not even a hybrid can achieve that. A Smart Car would be able to do it, but a Smart Car is really more like half-a-car so its really no wonder. But an Audi A8 is a regular car.

Better yet, its practically a sports car.

So its sexy AND efficient.

Why spend so much money buying a hybrid car with its extra heavy electrical/gasoline engine and extra heavy batteries to run the electric half of the engine?

Granted, not everyone can afford an Audi A8, but then again most people can't afford a hybrid either. So if you're rich enough to buy a hybrid, why not use that money to buy a normally fuel efficient car? If you compare the actual fuel efficiency for the hybrids and the other normal fuel efficient cars I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

Also, why aren't they building hybrid SUVs? People keep complaining about their fuel consumption why not just build SUVs that are more efficient?

Myself I'm a classic british car fan. I'm saving up to buy a 1976 Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

Sure, like all cars built in the 1970s its not very economical in terms of fuel efficiency, but I don't care. The '76 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a thing of beauty. Its a work of art. I'd stick it on a platform in my living room as a sculpture/loveseat and then only drive it on special occasions.

The primary problem with cars from 1970s is that they really were designed for looks. They looked fabulous and futuresque, but they drank gas like a turbo charged ice cream truck.

Which begs the question: Do fuel efficient cars have to be ugly?

No, I don't think they do.

And the very sexy Audi A8 proves my point.

Best of all if you buy an used Audi A8 I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the price.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Homelessness in Canada

As a Christian I find it appalling that Canada treats its homeless so poorly and ignores them so much.

Nobody wants to be homeless. There is a stereotype that homeless people take a "vow of poverty" and "like being homeless". This is simply not true. Regardless of what TV may teach you about homeless people NONE of them actually want to live in the gutter.

And it isn't a matter of laziness. If homeless people were lazy they would be on welfare, inside and safe, content on leeching off the rest of society. No, homelessness is really a combination of bad luck and governmental neglect.

Some people also say the homeless are "crazy", but if they are crazy its likely also because some of the homeless people really belong in an old age home, but due to senility wandered off and have since become missing persons.

Which in my mind means that senior citizen homes should be held accountable and should be SUED when the people they are hired to take care of wander off and get lost.

Its difficult to track Canada's poverty. There is no official census of how many homeless people there are on the streets. Soup kitchens and street missions may try to keep track of how many people use their services but the fact of the matter is that nobody really knows how many homeless a particular city has and how many there is overall in Canada.

Also there is a lot of debate about how to fix the homeless problem. Some people argue in favour of ignoring them, cutting funding to soup kitchens/homeless shelters and even "arresting" homeless people for vagrancy. Others argue that we need more action helping these people find work and getting them into a safe/warm place.

I agree with the later. It is a Christian Duty to help those less fortunate.

And I have an idea on how to accomplish at least part of the task.

You know how Alberta is always looking for workers and can't find enough people to do even the simplest of jobs? So much they are recruiting in faraway Newfoundland?

Well, how about they start recruiting on the streets of Toronto and Vancouver? Find homeless people who are willing to relocate and work in Alberta, help them get to Alberta and set up a program to help them find jobs there.

That is not just a great idea, its a BRILLIANT idea. It solves two problems with one program (which means its more efficient and saves tax dollars).

We would also need a 2nd program to track old homeless people, find out who they really are and reunite them with their families so they can live in the safety/security of a senior citizens' home (or with their family).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Did Charles Moffat really destroy Stockwell Day's career?

During the Winter of 2001 one man from Ontario played a major role in the downfall of Stockwell Day: Charles Moffat.

Charles Moffat is many things. An art historian, an artist and a behind-the-scenes political activist. He is the guy who painted the now famous "United States Censorship" painting which has been plastered all over the internet in recent years and even made its way into an American documentary about censorship.

Apparently in the Winter of 2001 Charles Moffat started to play a prank on Stockwell Day, a prank which would involve an embarrassing interview/biography of the then leader of the Canadian Alliance party. But then Moffat thought about his intended goal and aborted his plan, but not before writing a scathing letter to every seated MP of the Canadian Alliance party and urging them to revolt against Day's horrible leadership gaffs.

And revolt they did.

Led by MPs Chuck Strahl and Deborah Grey (central figures in the old Reform party) the party almost collapsed from internal bickering and the revolt eventually toppled Stockwell Day from power.

Which led to Stephen Harper's rise to leader of the Canadian Alliance, the merger with the Progressive Conservatives and the forging of the Conservative Party of Canada, which won a minority government in 2006.

Indeed, without Charles Moffat's prank Stephen Harper would never have had the opportunity to run for leader when he did and he never would have become Prime Minister of Canada.

Stockwell Day is now Public Safety Minister, a less important post.

So Charles Moffat's prank did ruin Day's chances of becoming Prime Minister, but it didn't entirely ruin his career.

Overall Moffat's prank was very good for the right wing of Canada because it allowed them to finally unify under one banner and finally win a minority government.

As a firm Progressive Conservative myself I still can't find myself to vote for the new Conservative Party. They are TOO right wing for my tastes and not progressive enough. I miss the old days of Brian Mulroney and I'm much more likely for Trudeau junior than I am to vote for Stephen Harper (whom I consider to be a heartless bean counter).

In the next decade (after Stephen Harper is gone) I predict the Conservative Party will become more progressive and lean more towards the centre of politics. Maybe then they will get my vote.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Should Canada get rid of its Welfare System?

Isn't it time Canada eradicated poverty by replacing its welfare system with a "Canadians with Disability Program", a "Workfare Program" and a "Training & Apprenticeship Program"

There are jobs out there that need doing, plenty of them. Roads to build, houses/apartment buildings to construct, rivers to be bridged over, data that needs computing, paperwork that needs to be processed and filed. It may not be the most exciting work to do, but there is a lot of it.

The problem is finding people with the proper training, the skills and experience required.

There is also people out there who want jobs, but lack the proper training and experience to do them. How do you gain experience if no one will give you a job in the chosen career?

Thats why Canada needs a Workfare Program, coupled with a Training & Apprenticeship Program. Together these two programs could finally eradicate poverty in Canada.


First, lets explain the Training & Apprenticeship Program.

Essentially this would be a government operated service which helps Canadians to train and learn a variety of work-related skills that aren't taught in highschool. Such a program would place more emphasis on college and university education (higher education is pretty much mandatory these days to find a job that doesn't pay minimum wage).

There are existing programs in Canada that are similar to this, but many Canadians don't take advantage of them. These programs need to be more strongly promoted so that more Canadians are aware of them and will take advantage of them.

Next, the Workfare Program.

For people having difficulty finding work and paying their rent/feeding their family Canada needs an alternative to the welfare system. Essentially this would be a combination of labour jobs and clerical work, stuff that needs to be done but no one has thought to do it. The jobs would be reasonably well-paid and its workers would benefit from a much higher living standard than they would be on welfare.

Scrapping the welfare system and replacing it with a "Canadians with Disability Program" means only people who are legitimately disabled would benefit from it. However, that doesn't mean they can't still be productive members of society. The program would facilitate training the disabled for careers they can do, and helping them to achieve that goal so that eventually they are not a burden on society. Most disabled people don't want to be a burden and want to contribute to the rest of society and "stand on their own two feet" so-to-speak.

Canada is also suffering from what I call a "Ghost Town Effect". There are small towns scattered around Canada where vast numbers of the town's residents are on welfare. The people refuse to leave the town and so go on welfare just so they can stay. Despite the fact that the town has little or no industry and is essentially a Ghost Town they stay because welfare gives them the ability to stay. As is expected, such towns also have abnormally high crime and suicide rates. This is a problem that needs to be fixed.

Canada needs a Workfare program in those towns, along with an Entrepreneurial program to help start up new businesses and industries. Once people start working again the towns will flourish and people can indeed stay where they are if they desire to do so.

One Example of an Industry in Canada that needs Improvement: Greenhouse Products.

Canada has a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables (especially in the winter). We import many such fruits and vegetables from the USA and other countries, but in reality we have the ability/technology to be growing such plants here in Canada under the warm windows of greenhouses.

Best of all, greenhouses don't need fertile soil. They can be built on rocky ground that is useless for anything else.

Family-owned greenhouses can sell their products to the local grocery store (or open their own grocery store).

Wait there's more!

Canada also has a shortage of bakeries, buying a lot of their bread from factory-style bakeries like "Wonder-Bread". Despite the advent of breadmaking machines people prefer to buy bread from their local grocery store. But if small bakeries started up right next to the grocery store and people had a choice between so-called Wonder-Bread and freshly made bread in 20 different varieties and zero cost of shipping... well, personally I'd pick the fresh bread. It just tastes better.

Basically whenever you see a product that is shipped to Canada from overseas (or made in some big Toronto factory), stop and ask yourself: "Couldn't we make that here in our little town?"

Years ago (and still today according to some people) stone houses were considered the epitome of what a good house should look like. Stone houses simply look more beautiful, they are well insulated (which saves on heating costs), they have a better resale value, they last a lot longer and are less likely to burn down in a housefire.

But stonemasons as an industry has almost entirely disappeared. Almost everyone has switched to brick or aluminum siding. And yet becoming a stone mason is really a quite simple task. Everything you could ever want to learn about stonemasonry can be found either online or in your local library.

Furthermore, stone and mortar are relatively cheap compared to brick. Its the amount of labour required that is the problem. Stonemasons must be physically fit and able to lift stone on a constant basis, and as such usually command very high wages (due to a combination of supply of demand, there is a shortage of stonemasons hence higher wages, plus only rich people seem to be able to afford to buy stone houses and thus they can afford to pay the stonemason).

Over the past 20 years a lot of stonemasons have retired, hence there are very few left at all. There's also no college programs in it, which means people seeking to learn stonemasonry must either teach themselves (which isn't too difficult, but will require some trial and error to learn the basics) or apprentice to somone who is a stonemason (which is difficult because there's a huge shortage of them).

My suggestion: If you own a house that has aluminum siding now is your chance. Renovate your house and reface it with stone. Get together with a few hardworking friends (or other people interested in stonemasonry) and start your own stonemason company. Renovate all of your houses with stone until you've gained enough experience doing it. Afterwards you have a choice: Work for other people renovating their houses, build new stone houses or buy crappy houses, fix them up, reface them with stonework and sell them for a profit.

If stonework isn't your thing, take notice of the greenhouses above. There is huge potential in Canada for workers who build greenhouses (possibly even out of old recycled glass to cut costs). My parents have a tonne of glass windows and doors stored in their barn that has been sitting there for years. Given the time and opportunity I would love to build a greenhouse out of the pieces (possibly even using stonework for the flooring and base of the building). Sadly my mother doesn't see the point of building a greenhouse because she doesn't like tropical plants and has no interest in growing her own tomatoes and citrus fruits.

I know some of the ideas I've mentioned above seems pretty left-wing for a conservative eccentric like myself, but lets face it: Getting rid of the welfare system is VERY RIGHT WING. The problem is that if we do get rid of the welfare system we have to make certain that all those people currently on welfare are somehow provided for (either through the disability program or the workfare program). If we don't provide jobs and encourage people to start up their own businesses then they will eventually resort to crime to feed themselves.

And the last thing we need is soaring homelessness and crime rates.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Harper's Empty Promises

Between February 9th and March 9th 2007 Stephen Harper has made over $6.9 billion dollars worth of empty promises for everything from subways to farmers to military spending to Quebec.

He's also promised to lower the GST another 1%.

But those promises are tied to a budget that has yet to be approved, and Harper knows full well that the budget will never be approved.

This is what I call another example of "dirty politics". Harpers promises sound grand on paper, but even if re-elected prime minister (either through a minority or majority government) but in reality not even the farmers approve of what he is doing.

Harper's promise of $1 billion to help subsidize farmers comes at a time when Harper wants to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board and remove their monopoly and price control on wheat and wheat products.

That price control is the only thing keeping poor farmers in business. Without it they would have declared bankruptcy a long time ago.

The Canadian government created the wheat board in 1935 in response to plummeting grain prices during the Depression that threatened to destroy the industry.

The CWB followed in the footsteps of previous attempts to temporarily stabilize the grain market in Canada in times of crisis.

The Board of Grain Supervisors was appointed in 1917 to market grain during the First World War. Another board was created to deal with a post-war crash in grain prices, but the government, determined to let market forces determine the price of grain, disbanded it after a year.

In the 1920s, western farmers formed their own grain marketing co-operatives, first in Alberta and then in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The three wheat pools got together in 1924 and formed a central selling agency, the Canadian Co-operative Wheat Producers, but the fall in grain prices following the Depression nearly wiped out the pool system altogether.

The Canadian government stepped in with financial aid to save the pools and eventually replaced the selling co-operative with the CWB.

The board was originally a voluntary agency, given the mandate to market Canadian grain at a fair and stable price for all its members.

But since 1943, Canadian wheat farmers have been compelled by law to sell their crops only to the board.

Barley and oat farmers also came under the board's control in 1949. Oats were removed from the CWB's jurisdiction in 1989. The CWB now has control of all wheat and barley grown in the West that is destined either for human consumption in Canada or for export.

The board is based in Winnipeg and doesn't handle the grain itself, or own any rail cars or elevators. The CWB's 365 employees negotiate deals to sell the grain at a single fixed price it determines.

The law governing the CWB was changed in 1998, so that the board is no longer a Crown corporation. Instead of being run by a handful of government appointees, the board now has 15 directors, 10 of whom are elected by Western farmers and five of whom, including the president, are appointed by the government.

However, the federal government still guarantees to cover any losses the Wheat Board suffers. Since 1943, Ottawa has spent $1.3 billion covering the board's deficits. Most of that money was spent in 1991, when the board lost $673.4 million after a U.S. export program drove down wheat prices. In 2003, the CWB reported an $85.4-million loss, mainly caused by a surging Canadian dollar, the board said.

Monopoly, open market or mixed?

Some farmers say the board has outlived its usefulness, that selling grain through one government agency - the "single desk," they call it - no longer works.

Defenders of the CWB say that without it the price of grain would fluctuate day-to-day and farmers themselves would have to negotiate their own price.

Opponents of the board say that's exactly what they want. These farmers say that, with the internet, they can monitor the price of their crops as they change, and negotiate accordingly. These farmers say they could sometimes get a higher price than the one negotiated by the CWB.

Somewhere in the middle are farmers who believe that pooling wheat and negotiating a common price might be a good idea for some farmers, but that they shouldn't be forced by law to sell their grain only to the CWB. These farmers support a dual market system in which farmers could sell their crops either to the board or on the open market.

In 1997, a referendum of barley producers found that nearly 63 per cent of the farmers support retaining the CWB's monopoly. Critics of the referendum, however, pointed out that the dual market system wasn't an option on the referendum.

In a plebiscite of Alberta farmers in 1996, 66 per cent were in favour of the dual market system.

The board also survived a court challenge in 1997. A group of Alberta farmers argued that the Canadian Wheat Board Act infringed on their freedom of association and the right to earn a living. A federal judge ruled that the monopoly was legal and a reasonable infringement on the farmers' freedoms.

Pressures from abroad

The CWB has also faced pressure from south of the border. The U.S. market represents about 10 per cent of the Canadian Wheat Board's sales, or about $400 million a year.

In 1993, Canada exported 2.8 million tonnes of wheat to the U.S. The record flood of Canadian wheat into the U.S. market had American farmers and senators from farm belt states crying foul.

Canada agreed to a temporary cap of 1.5 million tonnes on wheat exports for one year, from September 1994 to September 1995. After the cap expired, Canada again faced pressure to curb wheat exports to the U.S. The Canadian government resisted.

U.S. agriculture officials argued that the practices of the CWB constitute unfair trading practices and give Canadian farmers an advantage. Canadian officials responded that the CWB passed an initial audit in 1993 and a dispute settlement panel of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The George W. Bush administration issued a report in February 2003 that claimed the board enjoys advantages such as low-interest loans and use of government-owned rail cars, and that its monopoly status protects it against market risks. Canadian grain trade organizations replied that the WTO allows for bodies such as the CWB, as long as they comply with commercial business practices.

In February 2004, the World Trade Organization cleared the CWB of American accusations of unfair trade practices. The CWB called it a victory for western farmers. The WTO ruling was the 10th time in 14 years that trade rulings have backed the CWB.

In August 2004, however, the WTO approved a plan to cut subsidies and to require state bodies to stop practices that distort trade. Trade Minister Jim Peterson said the ruling could jeopardize the CWB, as well as government supply management of egg, dairy and other producers.

Mission Statement

This blog will be dedicated to providing a conservative viewpoint on politics, but with an eccentric and weird twist.

For starters, as conservative as I am, I don't always vote conservative. Instead I regularly vote Liberal. Why? Because I like to weigh my options. Sometimes the conservative leader is TOO conservative, too right-wing for my tastes. Sometimes the leader just plain scares me.

Case in point: Stephen Harper, the current minority leader of the Conservative Party in Canada, and for the moment, the Prime Minister of Canada with a minority government.

I did not vote for him. Why?

Because he really does scare me.

He's a bean counter. An accountant. A heartless bastard.

And thats not what I'm looking for in a leader of Canada. I'd much more prefer someone like Joe Clark, because he has feeling and heart and personality.

I also don't like the current Conservative parties policies when it comes to war, the economy and the environment. I think they are flirting too much with American politicians (the George W. Bush Administration) and with Big Business like the Alberta Oil Industry.

As an Ontario Conservative I also don't like how Alberta is bossing around the rest of Canada because of Alberta's economic prosperity (which is driven purely by the high prices of oil recently).

So it really comes down to voting for the lesser of two evils. I don't trust the Conservative Party and there's no way in hell I will ever vote NDP or the Green Party...

And so my options have been limited down to voting Liberal, which is a centrist party. I actually rather like Stephan Dion. He reminds me of Chretien (whom I once hated but now find to be one of Canada's greatest prime ministers).

For me its all about being practical and trying to make the RIGHT decision.

Let me illustrate:

Stephen Harper wrote in a letter to the Canadian Alliance members that Canada can't afford to fight global warming, that Kyoto was a scam created by communists countries and that so-called global warming is caused by pollution.

I read this and thought to myself: "Harper is full of total BS."

Canada can afford to fight global warming and here is why: It would take less than what we spend on the military (which isn't a lot I admit) to invest in research/technology that would allow Canada to fight global warming, become a leader in it and eventually make a profit selling the technology to other countries.

Communist scam? Who is Harper marketing to? Old people from Cold War? He made no sense whatsoever.

Fact: Global Warming/Climate Change is not caused by "pollution", its caused by Green House Gases (CO2) from coal plants and inefficient automobiles.

All Canada needs to do is invest in more efficient automobile technology (ie. hybrids, hydrofuel cells, etc) and get rid of the coal plants and switch to nuclear/renewables.

The biggest contributor to green house gases is coal plants. Get rid of those and we've at least accomplished half of the goal.

Methinks the real reason Harper doesn't like the whole Kyoto plan is because he hails from the Alberta Oil Industry and is basically a dirty politician working on their behalf.

And there's nothing I hate more than a dirty politician.

I think Canadians need to step back from the situation and weigh their options. Be practical about things and try to think conservatively. We need to conserve oil, not waste it. More efficient cars is a good idea.

We need to stop using coal (a 18th century technology) and starting using more nuclear (a 20th century technology) and more solar/wind power (because I'm all in favour of paying less for my hydro bill).

Think about it. Maybe the most conservative thing to do is to vote Liberal. I may not agree with them on some other issues, but those issues aren't really as important as the ones currently facing us and the Liberals are actually on the right track.

Sometimes being conservative means doing nothing, which seems to be Stephen Harper's approach. Sometimes being conservative means doing everything we can to save what we have, and perhaps that time is now.

So yes, thats right. I'm conservative and I'm voting Liberal. How eccentric is that?