Which right wing Canadian party would you rather vote for?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Harper's 2007 Budget

Stephen Harper's GST cuts are supposed to be combined with higher taxes on corporations.

The idea is to give more money to consumers so they can spend more, and tax the corporations a higher rate for their increased revenues. That way Canadians have more money and the economy is boosted, corporations see a rise in profits and Canada maintains tax revenues by simply changing the source of the revenues.

Except Harper hasn't increased corporate taxes. Instead in the 2006 budget Harper cut income taxes for Quebec (bribe for the PQ) and cut income taxes in Alberta (bribes for the Alberta oil industry where Harper enjoys a 76% approval rating). He raised incomes taxes in the rest of Canada and lowered them in Alberta and Quebec.

Talk about playing favourites.

And now in the 2007 budget (which passed thanks to help from the PQ) Harper has stolen billions of Atlantic Accord money from the Atlantic Provinces, for which the federal government is going to be sued for breaking contracts. But what else does the 2007 budget do?

  1. There was a very non-controversial 50% increase to capital gains exemptions on income taxes.
  2. $409,000 to help support and promote Canadian horses for sale overseas. The funding will be matched by equine industry execs dollar for dollar to boost and support Canada's equine industry.
  3. The budgets ignores the Atlantic Accord in lieu of a fatter equalization payment. The Atlantic Accord give the provinces full control over their resource revenues, but Harper is breaking that contract and effectively stealing money from the Atlantic provinces with a measly increase to the equalization payment (which is supposed to be there anyway).
  4. The budget also steals resource revenues from Saskatchewan's tiny oil/gas industry.
  5. $4.5 billion to clean our air and water, reduce greenhouse gases, combat climate change, as well as protect our natural environment.
  6. A a new Working Income Tax Benefit of up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families. This will reward and strengthen incentives to work for an estimated 1.2 million low-income Canadians, helping them over the "welfare wall."
  7. $45 million over three years to contribute to the cost of improving physical accessibility for persons with disabilities.
  8. $6 million per year to combat sexual exploitation and trafficking.
  9. $10 million per year to combat elder abuse and fraud.
  10. $10 million per year to Status of Women Canada towards real action in key areas such as combatting violence against women and girls.
  11. $400 million for Canada Health Infoway to support early movement towards patient wait times guarantees.
  12. $300 million for a vaccine program to protect women and girls against cancer of the cervix.
  13. Etc, ect. See more at www.budget.gc.ca/2007/overview/briefe.html
The new budget is not controversial for the most part. The biggest concern is Harper's theft of Atlantic Accord money in exchange for equalization payments.

Note: H
arper promised during the last election campaign not to clawback equalization payments because of oil dollars. He does manage to keep this promise, but at the expense of stealing money from the Atlantic Accord.

The budget passed with 157 votes in favour and 103 against. 48 MPs didn't even bother to show up.

There was never any doubt that the Conservative minority government would survive the final budget vote. The Bloc Québécois was going to see to that so many MPs didn't even bother to show up.

This budget still needs to be approved by the Liberal senate, which could send it back for revisions, and might insist that the Atlantic Accord be upheld (negating the need for the Atlantic provinces to take Harper to court).

If it is approved and the Atlantic provinces take Harper to court we might see a tipping point in Harper's approval rating in Atlantic Canada, which has dropped 10 percentage points.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Electoral Reform

Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon are getting ripped off in elections.

And here's why:

Prince Edward Island has 34,000 people living there and 4 electoral seats.

Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon have 3 times the population of tiny PEI, but only have 3 seats (a single seat per territory).

If we're going to be fair Canada's territories should be treated on the same basis as PEI. They should get 4 seats each, bringing their total to 12.

They're not the only ones getting ripped off.

The maximum quotient for a MPs seat is 107,220 people. Any number over that and that area is supposed to be split into smaller sections and gain another seat.

Ontario has an average of 107,642 people per riding. They should be entitled to an additional 1 seat to bring their average down below the quotient. Likewise British Columbia has an average of 108,548 voters per riding. They also are entitled to 1 additional seat. Alberta currently has an average of 106,000. In a couple years (depending on population growth) they may deserve an additional seat.

Some provinces see their votes count for more in the legislature. Depending on what county and province you live a couple hundred votes is all it takes to make a difference.

Q: How is the Quotient determined?

A: The calculation is done by taking the minimum 282 seats and subtracting the three territories to equal 279 seats. The population of Canada is then divided by 279 to equal the electoral quotient.

N.S. Premier in Ottawa to battle Harper's lies and corruption

Nova Scotian premier in Ottawa as battle over resource revenues continues.

June 12th 2007.

OTTAWA - The premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland kept up their attacks on Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday as the House of Commons prepared for a final vote on the federal budget, a document the Atlantic premiers have denounced as a betrayal.

Nova Scotia's Rodney MacDonald took his fight to Ottawa, where he met with Harper in a last-ditch effort to resolve a dispute over offshore energy revenues before the vote, scheduled for 5:15 p.m. ET.

In Nova Scotia, MacDonald's minority government placed newspaper ads urging residents to call on their 11 MPs to reject the bill because it effectively negates the Atlantic Accord, a federal-provincial agreement that was supposed ensure the province is the "main beneficiary" of its offshore energy sector.

"The 2007 federal budget effectively rips up the accord and breaks the deal made with Nova Scotians," the ad says, echoing sentiments expressed by Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams.

"The federal budget comes to a vote this week. Contact your member of Parliament now and demand that the federal government keep its agreement - and its word - to the people of Nova Scotia."

The federal government was set to limit debate on the contentious bill before the vote.

MacDonald said he hopes to enlist the aid of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and some senators in fighting the change.
Harper has responded to the latest salvos from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan by challenging the provinces to bring the dispute before the courts.

Williams took to the airwaves to describe the prime minister's behaviour as "childish."

"Stephen Harper is the de facto leader of this country ... and it's about time he started acting like one instead of trying to pit provinces against each other," Williams told CBC.

Williams said Harper's suggestion that the matter should be settled by the courts was a blatant bid the make the issue go away.

"The federal government has badly mismanaged this. Their communications strategy has been an absolute disaster," he said, suggesting that the federal Conservative caucus is now bitterly divided as the party's popularity plunges in Atlantic Canada.

Meanwhile, a Nova Scotia municipality has passed a resolution that confirms its support for MacDonald's stand.

Truro Mayor Bill Mills is calling on other communities to do the same, saying the province should be united in its fight against Ottawa.

Mills said the changes announced in the March 19 federal budget amounted to "knocking the legs from underneath us."

Saskatchewan threatens to take Harper to court

June 12th 2007.

REGINA - With Prime Minister Stephen Harper daring provinces to take the federal government to court over its equalization policies, Saskatchewan Government Relations Minister Harry Van Mulligen said that just might happen.

Speaking to reporters at the provincial legislature on Monday, Van Mulligen said Premier Lorne Calvert will lay out the Saskatchewan government's equalization strategy within the next two weeks.

The premier recently mentioned the possibility of legal action, and Van Mulligen said that's one of the options on the table.

"I think that would be a primary consideration for us," he said.

Saskatchewan has called on Harper to live up to the Conservative campaign promise to exclude non-renewable resource revenues from the formula for equalization funding, which it says would mean an additional $800 million in federal cash for the province annually.

The Conservatives say they kept their promise because the March federal budget allows provinces to choose a formula that would pull non-renewable resource revenues from equalization. However, it also put an unforeseen cap on payments, meaning Saskatchewan gets $226 million this year and is slated to get no equalization funding in 2008-09.

Saskatchewan has been joined in its unhappiness over the Conservative budget by Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, which had signed the Atlantic Accord side deals with the previous Liberal government. Those agreements excluded offshore energy revenues from the equalization calculations for those provinces.

Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative Premier Rodney MacDonald, who has called on all his province's MPs to vote against the budget, says the new equalization formulas violate the Atlantic Accord. But Harper said Monday if MacDonald believes that to be the case, the province should take the federal government to court.

"I am concerned about this allegation that we've broken the accords," Harper said at an Ottawa news conference.

"We've done no such thing. It's a contract. We don't break contracts. We respect contracts.

"Normally I expect that if somebody says you've broken a contract, they're going to follow that up by going to court to make you abide by the contract, but I don't see that happening. It's an allegation without substance."

Van Mulligen took exception to what he called the prime minister's "belligerent attitude."

"It's Mr. Harper's tone -- that 'If you don't like it, lump it' attitude and 'Take us to court' and so on. That's no way to run a country."

Van Mulligen said while Saskatchewan's strategy hasn't changed, the tough words from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and the possibility that a second Nova Scotia Tory MP will join MP Bill Casey in voting against the budget, undermine the Conservative argument about the budget's benefits.

The Saskatchewan government has been tight-lipped about a potential legal challenge since Calvert mentioned the possibility a month ago. Van Mulligen declined to provide further details Monday.

Harper embarrasses Canadians at G8 Summit


With the recent G-8 summit now behind us, many Canadians are feeling embarrassed and disillusioned. Until recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his team had refused to even acknowledge that climate change was happening and only took action when public demand left no alternative. Harper's attempt at the G-8 summit to try to sell the world on the merit of intensity-based emissions targets, when the world needs deep overall emissions reductions, is not only irresponsible but also reneges on our international Kyoto commitments.

In the area of foreign aid, Harper is also failing, falling well short of reaching the Lester Pearson-envisioned target of 0.7 per cent of the GDP, despite a flourishing economy and a hefty budget surplus. Harper's alleged attempt to sabotage G-8 advancement on its Gleneagles agreements on increasing foreign aid is beyond reprehensible.

Despite campaigning on the concept of accountability, Harper seems only to be accountable to the five-year plans of Big Oil and the foreign policy objectives of the U.S. – neither of which are meeting the needs of his own country or the world at large, but instead serve only the US economy and not Canada's.

As one observer noted: "Mr. Harper does indeed seem to be out of touch with the people of this country." It is now up to Canadians to demand true accountability from our government.

Harper Kicks Casey Out

Casey at the bat: three swings and he's out

Harper Conservatives can't say they weren't warned in vote against Budget by well-liked Nova Scotia MP.

Bill Casey with Truro councillor Raymond Tynes and Harper in happier daysBy Stephen Kimber

Federal Tories couldn't have been surprised when Bill Casey stood in the House of Commons on principle — and against his party — in last week's budget vote.

In truth, the veteran Cumberland-Colchester- Musquodoboit Valley MP has been out of step with Stephen Harper (and in touch with his own constituents) from the day the former Reformer was sworn in as prime minister.

That grand occasion also marked the first day Casey publicly questioned the PM's wisdom — for welcoming yesterday's Liberal, David Emerson, into his cabinet.

In February, Casey was deep in the doo-doo again after he criticized Harper for currying favour with Quebec voters by handing out aerospace contracts to firms in that province when companies in his own riding didn't get a whiff of the lucrative work.

All of this, of course, has always played much better in Casey's home riding — where he's been re-elected in four straight elections — than it does inside the Conservative caucus in Ottawa where leader loyalty is the sine qua non of promotion. Which is why he isn't in the caucus anymore.

"Our association to a person is supporting Bill," local riding president Scott Armstrong told the Amherst Daily News.

"He's been a wonderful MP for our riding and we support him."

Others in the riding agree — at least if you believe reader responses on the Amherst paper's website.

"The Tories don't realize what they have lost," wrote Shawna Richardson.

"I know that (I and) a lot of others voted for Bill, and not necessarily the party... Whatever party is in power makes no difference to me. But who represents my interests in Ottawa is very important and, therefore, as long as he is in politics... Bill will always have my vote."

"Mr Casey remembers where he comes from and, more importantly, who put him in Ottawa," explained Jennifer Boyce from Pictou. "It wasn't Stephen Harper."

Although he insists he's made no decisions about his long-term political future, Casey mused last week that "even I was surprised that I didn't mind sitting as an independent."

All of which raises an interesting question. How will Harper ever win his elusive majority if he keeps alienating his own supporters?

Answer: He won't.

Stephen Kimber, Casey at the bat: three swings and out, The Daily News, June 10, 2007
Casey's budget vote a surprise, MacKay says, CBC News, June 7, 2007

Harper's Trigger Happy Gun Panel

Harper's Gun Advisors are Trigger Happy Wackos

OTTAWA – The Conservative government's firearms advisory committee, appointed and operating in virtual secrecy, is made up almost entirely of pro-gun advocates opposed to the firearms registry.

Its dozen members include a man who argued that more guns in the hands of students would have helped in the recent Virginia Tech massacre, in which 32 people were killed, and another shooting aficionado who described a weapon used in last September's Dawson College killings in Montreal as "fun."

The committee's pro-gun tilt lends to the perception that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is out of step with urban concerns on firearms violence – especially in Toronto. Jordan Manners, 15, was killed last week in a school shooting, days after philanthropist Glen Davis was gunned down.

Over the Easter weekend, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day quietly extended a long-gun amnesty program to allow those firearms owners yet more time to register their weapons – pleasing registry opponents but angering those fighting for tougher laws.

In background research obtained and confirmed by the Star, members of the Conservatives' committee have shown themselves to be vocal proponents of gun use.

"If even 1 per cent of the students and staff at Virginia Tech had been allowed to exercise their right to self defence, then this tragedy would have been stopped in its very beginning and dozens of lives would have been saved," Dr. Mike Ackermann, a Nova Scotia physician, wrote in a letter to the Ottawa Sun in April. "There are never any mass killings at shooting ranges; only at schools and other so-called `gun-free zones.'"

Gary Mauser, a Simon Fraser University professor renowned for his work opposing gun laws, wrote an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun in February: "Firearm laws divert scarce resources from alternative approaches that might actually improve public safety."

The Public Safety Minister's office recruited the panel members but did not, as has been the practice in previous governments, issue any public announcement about the appointments. Nor does it seem to have included any panel members with expertise on suicide or sociological factors behind gun crime, as previous governments have attempted to do.

The only apparent acknowledgment of the committee's membership was found in a letter by MP Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton Melville) to constituents in which he pointed to the makeup of the panel as evidence of the Tories' intent to be more gun friendly.

"In October, the minister's new firearms advisory committee met in Ottawa for the first time. The difference between the Liberal government and the Conservative government is obvious by the people that make up the committee," Breitkreuz wrote in the letter dated Dec. 15, 2006. He named Ackermann, Mauser and 10 other members:

Tony Bernardo, Canadian Institute of Legislative Action.

Linda Thom, Olympic gold medallist in pistol shooting.

Alain Cossette, Quebec Wildlife Federation.

Greg Farrant, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

Linda Baggaley, firearms expert and dealer from Alberta.

Stephen Torino, Quebec firearms expert and dealer.

Louis D'amour, New Brunswick firearms expert.

Gerry Gamble, Sporting Clubs of Niagara.

Robert Head, former RCMP assistant commissioner.

John Gayder, Niagara police.

Murray Grismer, Saskatoon police.

Mauser, reached by the Star, said panel members do have disagreements, though he did not want to elaborate on their discussions or advice they've given Day after their meetings, which he said occur every few months. Panel members are not paid but travel expenses are covered.

"I can't tell you what that advice is ... and I certainly can't tell you whether they followed it or not," Mauser said in a phone interview.

At least some committee members have ties to the National Rifle Association in the U.S.

NRA president Sharon Froman spoke at an annual gathering of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association last November, for instance, noting her admiration for Torino.

Torino was also on the committee when Liberals were in power. At that time though, as when the panel was set up by former prime minister Kim Campbell, there was more of a balance between pro-gun and anti-gun advocates.

"Steve was one of the beacons of hope in a room full of enemies determined to eradicate your gun rights," Froman told the conference as she described working with Torino at a United Nations meeting on limiting the spread of firearms.

Froman praised Bernardo in that same speech, recalling work they have done together on the international stage. Bernardo appeared in a Canadian Press story, discussing the type of weapon used by Kimveer Gill in the Dawson College shooting.

"It's very accurate. The firearm is just one of those firearms that's just a lot of fun to spend a day at the range with."

Inquiries to Breitkreuz and the Public Safety department were referred to Day's office, but Day was travelling and his officials responded with only general information.

Harper threatens Atlantic Provinces

Stephen Harper Breaks Contract with Atlantic Canada
Provinces Prepare to take it to Court.

June 12th 2007.

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is threatening to take the Atlantic Provinces to court to rebut critics who say he is breaking his word and shortchanging Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

"We don't break contracts; we respect contracts," Harper told the Commons yesterday in reply to sharp criticism from Conservative Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald on the heels of months of protest from Newfoundland's Danny Williams, and the ouster last week of Tory MP Bill Casey.

Another Nova Scotia Conservative MP, Gerald Keddy, planned to meet with the Prime Minister last night to discuss his concerns about the dispute.

"We're between a rock and a hard place," said Keddy, who hinted that his support for the government's March 19 budget was wavering.

"I'm not going to make any decisions until I get a chance to talk to the Prime Minister," he told The Canadian Press.

Harper disputes the charge that his government breached the Atlantic Accords, and broke an election promise to let those provinces keep 100 per cent of their offshore oil and gas revenues without suffering hits to their federal-provincial equalization payments.

Yesterday, a combative Harper first dared the provinces to take him to court if they are serious.

"That's a serious allegation: the federal government's breaking the law. We're not breaking the law. And if Nova Scotia believes that they would take the appropriate action."

Harper added he was still open to talks to resolve the dispute as voters expect leaders to do, "like adults." But Harper said there would be no more "side deals" with provinces.

Then, Harper – who has long held that courts should not intervene in political decisions – said if the provinces don't do so, he would put the whole question of whether a contract was broken to some kind of judicial review.

"I don't think we can let this stand. At some point, we'll consult the courts to see if we've respected the contract," said Harper.

It prompted his political opponents to denounce Harper's descent into a war of words with the provinces, less than three months after federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty declared that "bickering between provincial and federal governments is over."

"When the finance minister announced the end of federal-provincial bickering, he did not say that meant `We will sue you if you disagree with us,'" Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said in the Commons.

It also prompted a warning from MacDonald, Nova Scotia's Conservative premier, that Harper's threat of court action could backfire on the federal Conservatives because emotions are running high in his province.

"The most important court is the court of public opinion, and I can tell you that the court of public opinion in Nova Scotia is that the federal government has broken a deal," MacDonald said after a private luncheon speech to Bay St. executives.

"There will be a political price to pay in Nova Scotia unless they honour the agreement," he predicted yesterday.

"We may be a small province in Nova Scotia, but we will not be bullied by the federal government."

On Sunday, MacDonald called on Nova Scotia MPs and senators to follow the lead of MP Bill Casey – ousted from the Conservative caucus for voting against the budget over his belief it broke the party's promise on the Atlantic Accords.

Casey yesterday echoed MacDonald's warning about the party's Nova Scotia prospects, saying voters there have shut out political parties in past elections to show their displeasure.

Moreover, Casey disputed Harper's contention that there are no "side deals" to be discussed, saying he was involved in talks to achieve just that, up until last week's vote and his eviction from caucus.

MacDonald said his call on federal Conservatives to vote against the budget was not an easy one. "As a Conservative premier myself, this is a major stand."

It came after closed-door talks between federal and provincial officials collapsed last week, and following publication Saturday of a public letter by Flaherty in a Halifax newspaper declaring there would be no side deals, and that it was an "urban myth" that Ottawa was not respecting the Atlantic Accords.

That letter was the straw that "broke the camel's back," said MacDonald.

He said all Canadians have a stake in how this matter is handled because the federal government's reputation for keeping its word is at issue.

"It's in the best interest of the country because if any of my colleagues from any province or territory is going to be signing agreements we need to know they're going to be kept.

"This goes to the very principle of Confederation."

Nova Scotians are angry, and talking about it "on the streets, in the stores, in their workplaces and at the supper table," said MacDonald.

"The offshore agreement was an agreement which Nova Scotians saw as an opportunity to move forward, to be a `have' province, to contribute to our country.

"And now that is being taken away," the premier said.

MacDonald said he last spoke with Harper on Sunday night, but would not reveal details of their conversation.

Harper insists his 2007 budget gives the provinces a clear choice between keeping their non-renewable resource revenues under the 2005 accords and the old equalization formula, or choosing a new equalization formula, which he said gives Nova Scotia an extra $95 million this year alone.

But Dion said Harper is "trapped" because he made a promise he that could not keep – to not claw back the Atlantic provinces' offshore energy revenues when calculating their federal-provincial wealth-sharing transfer payment under a newly-revised equalization program.

Accord primer

The governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia are accusing the federal government of undermining their versions of the Atlantic Accord.

Q: What is at stake?

A: The two provinces had long complained they were being penalized under the federal equalization formula, which offered smaller payments to both provinces as they earned more money from their burgeoning offshore oil and gas industries.

In 2004, on the eve of a federal election, the previous federal Liberal government agreed to update the Atlantic accords to help each province overcome their "unique economic and fiscal challenges."

The revamped agreements, signed in 2005, gave each province 100 per cent protection from clawbacks of equalization payments.

That protection applies until 2011-'12, as long as the provinces continue to receive equalization.

Q: Does the federal budget affect the Atlantic accords?

A: The provinces say the March 19 budget undermines the accords in that it requires them to give up their full protection against equalization clawbacks in order to participate in a new, richer equalization formula.

That formula includes non-renewable resource revenues in equalization calculations, as well as a fiscal cap.

Both provinces say despite the larger equalization payments, the new arrangement could hurt them in the long run because the clawbacks returned and the fiscal cap puts a limit on what the provinces can receive from Ottawa.

But the federal government says the budget doesn't affect the accords because it offers each province a choice: either stick with the original agreement or opt into an enriched equalization formula.

The provinces say the federal government had pledged an improved equalization formula, so offering the status quo is far less than what was promised.

Q: Why is Saskatchewan also angry over the federal budget?

A: Saskatchewan has charged that, with the new formula, Prime Minister Stephen Harper broke a promise to fully remove resource revenues from new equalization formula calculations, costing the province hundreds of millions of dollars in transfer payments.

But Harper says the budget actually offers more money to the province, and that the budget restores the equalization formula to a principle-based program that treats all provinces fairly.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Stephen Harper = Normal Guy

Stephen Harper is actually a pretty normal Canadian guy.

Like most normal guys Harper is: Christian, homophobic, stuck in his ways, stubborn, has 2 children and is an avid hockey fan. He also collects records of AC/DC and the Beatles.

If anything Harper is... quite boring. And very nerdish. He worked as a computer programmer during his 20s for an oil and gas company and later studied a masters degree in economics.

So he knows his numbers. He's a bean counter and he still maintains his close ties to the oil and gas industries.

He didn't even really want to be Prime Minister of Canada. He preferred to be the puppet-master telling old Preston Manning what to say and do and wrote speeches and ideologies for the Reform Party in his early days in politics.

A strong economy needs 3 things: Safety/Stability, cheap and ample supply of food for the masses, and affordable transportation for transferring goods/foods and people to and fro.

Oil and gasoline does play a very important part in Canada's prosperity. As a cheap commodity (thanks to subsidies it costs less to buy a litre of gasoline than it does for a litre of water). It allows us to transport food at cheap costs and bring cheap food quickly and easily to the masses.

It also allows us to transport other trade goods such as automotives, fashion, furniture and the like. Keeping the prices low = less cost for the consumer and more profit for the seller.

So logically one would think that using hybrid cars to keep costs down seems like a logical conclusion. Assuming of course that the car in question is affordable, has very good gas mileage and only marginally more expensive than a regular car.

For example if you were driving a 450 horsepower Lexus GS Hybrid and paid $77,000 for a new one you're not really saving any money. Its got a tonne of horsepower and torque that a lambo from the 1980s would be jealous of.

On the other hand you could also buy a 187 horsepower Toyota Camry for $31,000, still get tonnes of umph for your pleasure and the same fuel efficiency as a tiny Yaris.

As a typical boring nerd Stephen Harper probably doesn't know a lot about cars. He may know a fair bit about oil, gasoline and economics... but methinks he doesn't understand cars very well.

I lean towards Jaguars, Aston Martins and Mustangs myself. I've long had a dream of owning a gas guzzling 1970s powerhouse of a car... and sticking a hydrogen fuel cell engine in it to prove a point.

My father has a 1973 Plymouth Duster in green (he didn't like purple or orange so he went with puke green) that has been rotting in his shed since 1985. The car hasn't run in over 20 years. Fortunately he filled the engine with diesel to preserve it so it doesn't rust. It just needs to be cleaned out, replace anything that has been ruined, a lot of bodywork and a new paint job... that photo on the right is not the same car, but it is what it would have looked like when it was brand new.

For me however I'd be very tempted to just toss the engine out. Sell it for scrap. Fix the car up, stick a hydrogen fuel cell engine inside it, paint it cherry red or glossy black... and then take a vacation across Canada with it.

My reasoning? Thanks to the previous Liberal government there is a growing network across Canada of hydrogen fuel cell technology and ways to refuel a car that runs on that technology. Basically the idea is that people will be able to refill their cars with fuel anywhere they can find electricity.

Because all that is needed to collect and store hydrogen is electricity and water.

So the only real trick to this is how much will it cost to refill the car using hydrogen gathered using electricity, and how much will the electricity itself cost? And where is that electricity coming from? Coal plants?

Coal-burning electrical plants are the cause of roughly one quarter of Canada's greenhouse gases. More coal plants would hardly be good for the environment.

An important point is that coal isn't cheap. It cost the Ontario government 9 cents per kWh to make coal power, but they only sell it for 6 cents/kWh. Ontario taxpayers pay for the other 3 cents. Other sources of power are comparatively cheaper.

My hope is that someday I will be able to drive my "gas guzzling" car from the 1970s across Canada thanks to a network of cheap/environmentally friendly electricity.

Which I admit makes it sound like I'm some kind of freaking hippie. But I'm not. Like Stephen Harper I also like hockey, economics and I am a little homophobic (most guys are). But at least I'm not too stubborn and stuck in my ways to realize change is coming whether I like it or not and I am willing to embrace that change.

So when I say I hate Stephen Harper the truth is I don't "hate hate" the guy. I just don't like how stubborn he is and I don't agree with a lot of his policies. Especially his more wacko Christian ideas like bringing prayer back to public schools.

In short... I miss Brian Mulroney and the old Progressive Conservative party. At least then we'd have a government which was progressive with the environment instead of trying to ignore it.

I'd vote for Mulroney again given the chance.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Parties Threaten to oust Harper if he doesn't ratify Kyoto

Coalition threatens election over Kyoto

June 6th 2007.

MONTREAL - With Prime Minister Stephen Harper trying to persuade European politicians he has the right plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, four federal parties and Quebec environmentalists teamed up to call for his environment minister's head and threaten an election.

"It's not impossible that we will get to that ( an election on Kyoto)," Quebec Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez said in reference to Conservative stalling tactics in the Senate to block Bill C-288. A private member's bill piloted by Rodriguez, the bill is designed to ensure Canada honours its Kyoto protocol commitments despite the minority Conservative government's opposition to the accord.

Bloc Quebecois MP Bernard Bigras added that the critical moment, as far as he's concerned, will come if the government fails to take action in the 60 days after the adoption of Bill C-288.

"If it does not, it is clear parliamentarians will have to assume their responsibilities," Bigras said in a vague threat.

The two politicians made the comments at a Montreal news conference where they were joined by representatives of the New Democratic Party and Green Party in upping the pressure on the Harper government to end its filibuster on the bill.

They said the Conservatives are using their minority in the Senate to block final adoption of Bill-C-288. Also attending were members of a pro-Kyoto Quebec group and an industry representative from the Cascades paper giant, which has been reducing its emissions for years.

"He (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) is doing what he promised he would never do," said Rodriguez. "He is using his minority in the Senate to go against the will of the elected majority in the House of commons.

"We are here to send him a clear message. Respect the will of Quebecers. Respect the will of the majority of Canadians. Do it for your children and grandchildren."

In Ottawa, the Liberal majority in the Senate is threatening to sit through the summer in order to pass the bill.

At the Montreal meeting, Quebec candidate Thomas Mulcair said Harper's efforts to thwart Kyoto prove the Conservative government never had any intention of respecting its international obligations.

"Mr. Harper, all of us here today are giving you one clear message: stop being such an international embarrassment, start respecting our international obligations."

The four parties are also calling for federal environment minister John Baird's resignation in an open letter to be published in the Montreal media Wednesday.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The How's and Why's of getting called a Cunt

Most women never deserve to be called a cunt.

Most women are generally nice people and deserve to be treated with Respect.

But when you go out of your way to mean to other people there are specific instances when I think those particular women deserve to get the C-word as a response.

Here's two examples wherein I have personally called a woman a Cunt and I feel in those circumstances they deserved it.

I was in Toronto, at the Yonge/Bloor subway station carrying a box of breakables and I was walking parallel to the train rails (right on the yellow line for anyone familiar with the TTC subway) and this 30-something woman ahead of me was walking the opposite way carrying nothing but a purse.

Had she been pushing a baby carriage, or been pregnant, disabled, or carrying an even bigger box I would have stepped aside and let her pass. Nope. She was carrying nothing but a purse, so I kept walking in a straight line figuring she would have no trouble stepping to one side.

But she did have trouble with it. Apparently "I" got in her way. So when she did finally step to the side she took her time to say "Asshole."

I was immediately shocked that she could be so rude to a man carrying a box, but I was quick witted enough to very quickly say "Cunt."

And I feel she deserved it.

In the second example I was standing in the line at Tim Hortons (an instance all of us Canadians have done at some time). It was a long lineup and I was waiting for 20 minutes, possibly going to be late for work. Just as I near the counter the woman in front of me starts letting not one, but ALL of her co-workers (about 5 of them) to butt in front of her.

At which point I politely asked "What are you doing? What about the rest of us waiting here?"

"Well these are my co-workers and she's going to buy me a coffee."

"And what about the rest of us waiting here? Are your co-workers planning to buy us all coffees?"

She just laughed at me.

I was so furious I very nearly punched her. She got off lightly with being called a Cunt.

So yes, I think you will agree, there are women out there who are so rude that they deserve to be called a Cunt. If the particular instance warrants I fully agree with people using the word.

Bitch just wouldn't satisfy the full gravity of the situation.

Only Cunt is the proper word to express in certain situations.