Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why No Canadian Law On Abortion? Blame The Pro Life Movement...

That isn't a typo in the subject line, Canada has absolutely no laws with respect to abortion, and the reason is because of the Pro-Life lobby. Why am I blaming the Pro-Life camp? I'll get to that later, first let's see if this situation is unique.

Sweden regulates abortion, Australia's laws vary from state to France abortion is permitted on demand during the first 12 weeks. Norway, the United States, Israel, Finland...all have laws governing this contentious procedure. Canada stands alone among developed countries in that we're the only one with absolutely no legal restrictions whatsoever. In fact according to Pro-Choice group ARCC (Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada) there are only 3 countries in the entire world with no laws governing abortion*.

Already have three girls and hoping for a boy? No problem...if number four is going to be a girl then get rid of her and have another go. Is that a cleft palate on your future little angel? Don't worry, you can have an abortion and try again for the perfect child. A teenager in denial about being pregnant? That's understandable, there's no legal restriction even if you're in the third trimester, so take your time.

Some will contend that Late Term Abortions are "never" preformed in Canada except in cases where the mother's health is at issue. That's not what Pro-Choice lobbyists, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada says. Quoting from their Position Paper #22...

"Most women who terminate their pregnancies after 20 weeks wanted to have a child, and were forced to consider abortion for medical reasons. Other women may be in desperate social circumstances, such as an abusive relationship, or they may be very young teenagers who have delayed abortion care because they were in denial about the pregnancy". (Emphasis Mine)
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
How do Canadians feel about this? There have been a number of polls conducted, with the results varying widely depending on the context of the question. In 2001 Gallup posed this question:
  • Do you think abortion should be legal under all circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?
The results...Only 32% responded legal in all circumstances, with 52% and 14% choosing only under certain circumstances and illegal in all circumstances respectively.

You can spin these number two basic ways. Pro-Choice advocates will point to the fact that these results show over 80% of Canadians in favour of allowing women access to abortion. Pro-Life supporters will contend that the majority of Canadians wish to see restrictions placed on abortion procedures. The bottom line? Both spins are in point of fact accurate.

The difficulty is that most Canadians aren't even aware that Canada has no laws on the books whatsoever to deal with this issue. Angus Reid recently conducted a survey which found that 92% of Canadians weren't aware that abortion is legal in Canada during an entire pregnancy. -NewsWire Story Here, My Blog Entry On The PR-.

While the Pro-Choice camp may scream about the poll being paid for by a Pro-Life lobby group, that's simply a case of blaming the messenger, in this case Signal Hill.

So...why do I think its the Pro-Life lobby which is responsible for Canada being one of only 3 countries with no laws on the books respecting abortion? Quite simply it is because there are a significant number of Canadians who do not think an abortion should ever be allowed...and they tend to be the loudest and most active members of the Pro-Life lobby.

Victims of rape or incest? To these bright lights of the Pro-Life camp its, 'too bad so sad dearie'...that fetus' rights trump all over your's. Clearly the vast majority of Canadians firmly believe in a woman's right to access abortion services at least "in certain" circumstances....But because of a small but loud minority of Canadians who view life as sacred from the point of conception, Canada has no laws whatsoever. Having to choose between these two extremes, Pro-Choice will win every time.

The Pro-Choice side should take care not to become too much like their intolerant, slogan shouting opponents though. The video below demonstrates that Pro-Choice proponents can be every bit as intolerant as their Pro-Life "sacred from conception" counterparts. An information session conducted by a Pro-Life group at St. Mary's University down east was hijacked by screaming Pro-Choice advocates....Take away the slogans and the tactics are the same as with some Pro-Life zealots...Watch for yourself:

***I'm trying to find out the other 2 countries that stand with Canada in this regard, if you have a source please forward it***

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow On FaceBook

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Planting Seeds of Hope - Paying It Forward

In my last entry I committed to taking the advice of a Roman Catholic official who suggested celebrating the Lenten season by giving $10 to a stranger and asking them to give it someone in need of a helping hand. I haven't done it yet, but I will be in the coming days. I took some time to think it over and I decided that simply handing $10 to a random stranger would be stretching my faith in humanity to the limit.

I also want to do it in such a way that it won't neccessarily be viewed as something with religious overtones. Because frankly I consider myself a: Christian, Budhist, Jewish, Sikh, Shinto, Pagan, Druid and Hindu. Ooops, almost forgot Budhist, but then we Budhists aren't a proud lot.

Qwen71n commented on the entry saying:

Doesn't giving a religious significance to a good deed, such as charity donation or something, diminish its value? That way one is just buying himself out of the Hell, instead of being good for the sake of it.

I share that sentiment, believing in the law of kharma as most good Hindus do. So with that in mind I composed a letter to accompany the $10 gift. This is what it says:

I recently asked a stranger if he or she knew of anyone who was struggling or having a rough time. I then asked them to give this letter and the attached $10 to that person. I know it isn’t much, I’ve been through a rough stretch myself. Use it for whatever will help you right now. I know some may find it difficult to ask for or to receive help, but know that you’ve given me something in return, the satisfaction that comes from helping someone…anonymously.

Keep trying and never give up. I know that you will make it. And when you do all I ask is that you ‘Pay it Forward’. When once again the wind is at your back, strike up a conversation with a stranger, and when you sense a kind and giving spirit, give them this letter or a copy along with $10 and the same instructions I gave, to help someone out who’s having a rough time.

You’re going to make it, keep having faith.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
Things are pretty bleak for a lot of people out there, and while I don't have the resources to make a truly meaningful impact on anyone's financial situation...I do think a simple gesture like this could have an enormous impact on someone's spirits. And it isn't about any religion for me...I was careful in choosing the wording, leaving out anything that might hint at Christianity or any other religion. I did hesitate about using that last, but then I reasoned that faith is something that stretches beyond religion. People can have faith in themselves, in others...that things will work out in the end.

I'd be interested in reading any thoughts or ideas readers might have. I'm also wondering if others might be inspired to do the same or something similar? I watched Obama's speech to Congress last night and was genuinely moved by many of the things he said. The greatest challenge facing both Americans and Canadians right now is in maintaining hope and rejecting despair. I think something like this letter and a simple $10 bill might actually help.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow This Blog On FaceBook

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pay It Forward On Ash Wednesday

My morning read of The Toronto Sun included a column by Neil MacCarthy, Director of Public Relations & Communications Archdiocese of Toronto. It was actually a Letter To the Editor, but it was given (deservedly) column treatment.

Now...I wish to point out that I'm not a religious guy, in fact I haven't attended a church service in over a year. And I'm not particularly fond of the Roman Catholic faith, some of its teachings and the pedophile priests that Rome has sheltered and protected. With that being said it would be unfair to totally dismiss those aspects that are positive and life affirming.

I did grow up in a Christian Mother was the daughter of a United Church of Canada minister, so I'm not completely out of my depth when it comes to the Christian faith and its observances. I know that we're entering the season of Lent, which is the 40 days which lead up to Easter. For those of a more secular bent, Easter is of course when the Easter Bunny finally emerges to shower us with candy.

If you come across some devout Roman Catholics tomorrow you'll likely notice their foreheads marked by a cross with ashes. In his letter Mr. MacCarthy has a recommendation for those who do not wish to partake in this religious ritual, even for those who don't ascribe to any particular faith. He says:

"...if you'd rather concentrate on charity, hand a stranger $10 and ask them to give it to someone they think will need a helping hand".

What a great idea!!! And its a suggestion I will act on tomorrow. I do have religious friends and acquaintances who during this pre-Easter season have asked me..."What are you giving up for Lent"? I typically offer up a smart ass joke about forgoing skydiving or bowling....because seriously, I don't really see the significance. I get the whole self-sacrifice thing, it just isn't for me. But this is about helping people in the best possible way, anonymously. Giving $10 to a stranger with the instruction to 'pay it forward' is brilliant, irrespective of the time of year.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
Now...for those curious about the actual religious significance of Ash Wednesday, I'll draw upon my years in Sunday school...the times I wasn't sleeping, and try to give you the basic story.

Jesus left the city of Jerusalem and went out into the desert, just 40 days before he was to be crucified. It was a Wednesday and people were burning palm leaves as he left, and his sandals left a trail of ashes behind him. Moses too was out wandering in the desert and he came across the path that Jesus had left. Moses followed it and they met. Moses and Jesus then came across a man, his wife, and their son's and daughters. The man's name was Noah and he was building an ark, a large ship to house a multitude of animals because God had told Noah that he was going to cause a great flood.

The ark was finished but Noah was having difficulty locating all the animals he needed to save. Across a large river were two pigs, but Noah had no way to retrieve them. Casting his eyes to the heavens Moses commanded the waters of the river to part, which allowed Jesus to cross and collect the two pigs. However once Jesus had them in his arms the waters ebbed back and his path was again blocked. Undeterred Jesus walked across the waters and delivered the two pigs to Noah. This is why Christians to this day relish in eating pork, with many having a traditional ham dinner for their Easter meal.

Now Moses and Jesus were unaffected by the great flood, and Jesus was able to return to Jerusalem after the event because God promised them that they and the city would be spared if they both agreed to give up one thing for the next 40 days. Moses is said to have given up being so serious all the time, and spent the next 40 days telling Jesus every joke he had ever heard...which is why to this day so many of the Jewish faith have gone on to successful careers as comedians. And Jesus abstained not only from sex...but also from thinking about it. Which is why the early church required priests to remain celibate. Jesus clearly got the better of the bargain as his only companion during this time was a guy who was several hundred years old.

There you have it, I might have erred on some of the finer details but that's the general thrust. And yes, I do know I'm going to hell...but that's okay. When I die I want to be with my friends.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow This Blog On FaceBook

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Do Christians Support Harper's Conservatives?

Having been brought up in a Christian household I thought this might be as good a time as any to blog about something I've pondered for a while. That being the strong support Stephen Harper's Conservatives have with Canada's Christian community. It is Sunday after all, and even though the Bible commands followers to keep the 7th day (which is Saturday) holy, most have adopted the Roman tradition of Sunday as the day of observance. Sunday of course being in honour of the Sun, long worshipped by people the world over for thousands of years.

A quote I've heard attributed to Mark Twain goes: "If Jesus were alive today, he wouldn't call himself a Christian". Extending that quote to what Stephen Harper calls our "Northern European Welfare State" I can't help but wonder if Jesus would ever vote for Stevie's Reform come Alliance come Conservative party?

After all the Jesus of the Gospels never held a steady job, although it is said he had a trade as a carpenter...with some translations saying stone mason. But he never used his skill in any of the writings available to us, instead he wandered about from town to town. He was never in one place long enough to settle down, preaching in the sanctuaries of the day he was invariably getting booted and chased out of town by the religious zealots of the day.

With no social assistance programs to rely upon Jesus and his followers would shack up with whoever would take them in. Some Biblical scholars have opined that Jesus must have had some wealthy benefactors, perhaps Mary Magdalene among them...who bankrolled the saviour's journey through the holy lands.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
But on the whole Jesus' followers were mostly the poor and disenfranchised, and he often criticized the wealthy. Jesus didn't speak out against taxation, in fact he said taxes should be paid...rendering to Caesar that which was Caesar's. The man was pretty clear with his opinions on those who possessed wealth and privilege in fact. Give to everyone who asks of you, and don't ask to have returned that which is stolen from you. Hey, if someone swipes your coat...then give them your sandals too.

Harper and his cronies seem far more like the Pharises and Sadducees of the Bible.. Let the poor fend for themselves, or leave them to beg for whatever crumbs fall off the master's table. The poor may inherit the Earth...but in the meantime let them eat cake, or whatever else they can manage. Until their grand inheritance comes in, leave the rich to their wealth, the poor can wait...and maybe pray.

It used to be that the NDP was something of a haven for Canadian clergy...but no longer. American style evangelical churches with their Calvinistic approach have taken over in attracting Canadian Christians...and pushing them to the Conservative Party of Canada. Of course if the second coming, which so many Chritians believe in, does indeed come to pass...Jesus will probably be kicked out of the congregation.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow On FaceBook

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why Is Canada In Afghanistan...And Not The Congo?

Canadian soldiers are doing much of the heavy lifting in southern Afghanistan, attempting to secure an area vitally important for a long desired natural gas pipeline route. Over one hundred of our nation's best killed, in what is largely framed as a humanitarian battle against Islamic extremists...with little reporting of the long proposed TAPI pipeline. Our European NATO allies have been reluctant to commit to the battle, with many seeing the war in Afghanistan for what it truly imperialistic land grab over resources and geopolitical gamesmanship.

Meanwhile in another part of the world a far deadlier conflict has been raging for the better part of the past decade, with casualties numbering in the millions. The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is the centre of the widest war in African history with involvement of at least 9 other African states. While the DRC lacks huge deposits of natural gas and oil, it is rich in many other resources...which is is ultimately fueling the conflict.

In Afghanistan much has been made of the plight of women. Canadians are proud to see our nation's military involved in a struggle that is helping many Afghan girls attend school for the first time...a justification the Soviets used when they invaded. Meanwhile in Central Africa an even more insidious and disturbing war is being waged against women and girls...rape on a massive scale.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
Perhaps this is part of the reason why our attention hasn't been riveted in this direction. Some news is just too disturbing, which makes ignoring it all the easier. Reading stories about Islamic fundamentalists throwing acid on girls attempting to attend school gets us angry, while reading about the gang rape of a child is too unsettling making it convenient to ignore.

For those with the stomach to educate themselves about this conflict and the way in which rape is used as a tactic of war, then I suggest watching...THIS VIDEO. Be warned however, the content is incredibly disturbing, which is perhaps why there is so little coverage. Mainstream media hasn't totally ignored jt, 60 Minutes did a story as well with the video and write-up available HERE.

But we don't see emails invading our in-boxes exhorting us to do anything about this conflict, no suggestions that everyone wear a certain colour of clothing one day a week to show our solidarity with the pop-gun UN security presence in this forgotten region of the world.

Canadians to a large extent have willingly bellied up to the Kool-Ade bar and drink up with thirst the propaganda being fed to us about our mission in Afghanistan....while we turn a blind eye to a far greater evil. Meanwhile the mining of Congo's resources continues, with western companies reaping huge financial rewards....Of course that's what war is almost always about, economics. Humanitarian concerns are just a sidebar story to convince brave men and women that the lives they're sacrificing are worth the price.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow On FaceBook

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama Wrong On Afghanistan

Now that the euphoria over Barack Obama's visit to Canada has had time to wear off its easier to take a step back and examine exactly what was said. A large part of the conversation and coverage had to do with Canada's mission in Afghanistan, with Obama heaping praise on Canadians for our commitment and sacrifice, with over 100 of our service men and women killed.

The new President has a ton of political capital to expend, and with his combination of charm, charisma and intellect its difficult to take exception to any of his initiatives. What a contrast to George W. Bush! Even on those very rare occasions where 'Dubya' actually got something right (nothing springs to mind immediately) you still wanted to oppose the dullard regardless.

But make no mistake about it, Obama is wrong on Afghanistan. And while we're not yet being asked to extend our mission date beyond 2011, only a fool would believe that request isn't coming. Obama's handling of this issue has been masterful, going to great lengths to laud our efforts while not even hinting that Ottawa will be asked to extend our combat operations. Like a good manager who lavishes praise, it will make it very difficult if not impossible to refuse when the eventual request does come. And when it does come, Canada should say no...we shouldn't even be there now.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
Everyone knows the old saw, 'those who fail to recognize the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them'. Former U.S. NATO commander Dan McNeill is on record as saying that if counterinsurgency doctrine were properly followed NATO would need 400,000 troops to win this war. The Soviets sent in almost 200,000 soldiers backed by about 200,000 more Afghan communist forces when they invaded...and the Soviets were still forced to withdraw.

And why are we there? Obama's tack has been to categorize Afghanistan as a potential incubator for terrorists, one that must not be allowed to resurrect itself under the leadership of the Taliban. This is the same Taliban which enjoyed friendly relations with the United States up until their refusal to approve a U.S. led consortium's bid to build a massive natural gas pipeline. Obvioulsy there's the whole 9/11 issue, but that attack could have been used for justification to invade any number of nations, including U.S. client state Saudi Arabia...which is Osama Bin Laden's country of origin.

Things are bad in Afghanistan and getting worse. Supply routes are so vulnerable to attack that Washington is cutting deals with countries like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, nations which could easily be labeled 'terrorist states' were they not complying with Washington's foreign policies.

Here we are in the midst of a global economic meltdown that's being compared to the Great Depression...yet both Canadian and US taxpayers are footing a bill in the billions of dollars to secure natural gas and oil pipeline routes. The cost in terms of dollars and human lives is only going to climb higher and higher. Obama is talking about increasing U.S. troop numbers by 30,000 to 60,000....that's a long way from the needed 400,000.

I blogged on this previously here: Afghanistan’s Pipeline – Canada’s War

You can read about General McNeill's comments on troop levels back in June 2008 on BBC: Nato 'needs more' in Afghanistan

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow On FaceBook

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Long Before The First Run On 'The Bank'?

If you're looking to avoid bad news, then stay away from the financial pages. In the U.S. most states are prohibited from running deficits, so in times such as these they have to slash and burn to balance the books. The other alternative is to raise taxes of course, which in this economy is the equivalent to choosing between a noose or arsenic. President Obama is making billions available to help beleaguered home owners meet their mortgage payments stateside, but when people find themselves out of work...that assistance won't go very far.

Canadians shouldn't feel too complacent in this environment, regardless of how highly regarded our economy and banking system is perceived. There's a global virus infecting the world's markets right now...and while our immune system may be strong it is not impervious. It was only in August and September that concern over the economy gripped our American friends, at a time when Canadians were being told that everything would be okay...sure our economy would cool off, but there was no need for real worry. Our federal government wasn't even going to run a deficit.

I'm something of a contrarian at heart, and for those unfamiliar with the term 'contrarian' means swimming against the stream of general sentiment. The tone I'm hearing from most of our media is that...okay, things are bad...but don't worry too much, solutions are on the way. Its an important message, because our economy runs as much on mass psychology as it does on dollars and cents. Even currencies like the U.S. and Canadian dollars are "fiat" instruments. There's no gold or silver standard, no vaults underground with precious metals to backstop their valuations. Our currencies trade based largely on supply and demand factors, and at the end of the day it comes down to a simple matter of confidence.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
In contrasting the current environment with that of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the biggest difference between now and then in my opinion Seventy five or eighty years back there was no television, and radio was a relatively new technology. The ability of government officials and other interested parties to mass communicate a message was severely limited.

In the absence of comforting words available on TV, people were left to their own devices to a much larger extent than now. Yes there was print journalism, but words on a page don't resonate as well as a CNN special report. People's confidence was shaken, and fearing for their financial well being many wanted their money closer at hand. That meant going to the bank and withdrawing it, and when that sentiment took hold with enough people there was a run on the bank.

Most everyone over the age of 30 has probably seen the Christmas classic, "Its A Wonderful Life". In the movie depositors flocked to the Bailey Building & Loan seeking to withdraw their deposits. That wasn't just Hollywood...that was real life. But in the real world version there were few George Baileys around to calm depositors nerves, and banks failed. The money simply wasn't there. It had been invested...and when the markets tanked it evaporated.

According to Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S Federal Reserve, perhaps the biggest lesson of the Great Depression was in the Federal Reserve not stepping in to prop up the banks. As we've seen repeatedly over the course of the past few months, that is a 'mistake' that is not being repeated. Billions have been injected into the banking system worldwide, even here in governments have stepped in to inoculate financial institutions form their exposure to bad, (or toxic) debt.

Without this aid there undoubtedly would have been failures at several large banks, particularly in the United States. But beyond that limited benefit the question must be asked. Is it working for the economy as a whole? While banks have been able to shore up their balance sheets there appears to be little if any loosening of available credit. The banks got their's, yes....but to date they appear to be guarding 'their cash' very cautiously.

Did the U.S. government make a big mistake in handing over hundreds of billions of dollars over to Wall Street? If banks were to fail there would at least be redress for depositors in the form of the FDIC and CDIC in Canada. For those unfamiliar with these agencies, they are government insurance programs that protect depositors up to a maximum of $250,000 in the U.S. and $100,000 in Canada. Insurance programs such as these were not available when the Great Depression started to take hold.

While banks have been able to stave off bankruptcy for the moment, its worth asking if this is on a temporary fix. Banks take money from depositors and put it to work in various instruments. But if the avenues normally used by financial houses aren't returning a profit...Could insolvency not be the unavoidable result?

Hopefully this will remain a topic for academic discussion...But if a run on a major bank does happen I would see it as the proverbial 'canary in the coal mine'. One bank failure would lead to another and then another with only the strongest surviving. In a way though that's is the very precept of our free market economy. It may sound cut throat, but the alternative might turn out to be National Socialism...another result of our last Great Depression.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow On FaceBook

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Does Pro-Choice Mean Anti Free Speech?

There's been a fair bit of news about reproductive technology and procedures in the news lately. The question of Late Term Abortion or LTA for short, multiple births through the implanting of eggs, a procedure available to even senior post-menopausal women...the question of gender selection in determining whether or not to abort a viable fetus.

I get the distinct impression that certain members of the Pro-Choice lobby don't want discussion on anything that touches on reproductive technologies or on the rights of women to access these procedures. But given that these services are often performed at a cost to our Health Care System...a system we all fund through our tax dollars, it is something I think we should be discussing.

Advances in medical technology have made so many things possible in terms of reproductive choice, but questions of ethics do come into play. Just because a procedure is possible, does that mean it is something that should be left to individual choice? Obviously for those on the extreme end of the Pro-Choice lobby the answer is yes.

Any attempt to discuss placing restrictions on these procedures may very well be met with loud protestations and the screaming of matter how reasonable a proposed limitation might seem. Discussion is shouted down and public debate is squashed, which is exactly the goal of this extreme element.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
As things now stand in Canada there are no laws to prevent an individual from opting for an abortion because the fetus is a girl. There is no legislation to stop a Grandmother in her 60's from giving birth to twins. A teenager in denial about her pregnancy into the 3rd trimester can still access abortion services paid for by the Health Care System.

There are "guidelines" in place of course, set out by the Canadian Medical Association. But are mere guidelines preferable to regulation backed up by legislation?

I fully expect to be screamed at just as has happened when I've written about this previously...with another blog site telling me to "Shut The F### UP". But if those opposed to free speech haven't figured it out by now, I don't give into bullies and I'm not easily intimidated.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow On FaceBook

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama In Canada - Whoop Dee Doo

So Barack Obama is coming to Ottawa, big deal. Canadians' hearts were all a flutter when it was announced that President Obama's first foray outside of the United States would be north of his border. That's as it should be, we are after all each other's largest trading partners. While we may not always agree with our southern neighbours, they are our closest friends and allies. With the relationship we share you'd think at least an overnighter would be warranted, but too bad so sad for us.

No state visit for little Canada, Obama will pull up to the drive-thru window long enough to grab his coffee and bagel, exchange some chit chat...then be back in Washington in time to tuck his girls into bed. I'm not suggesting this visit is totally devoid of significance, photo-ops are after all very important in this modern age. With only a couple of hours of face time between our PM and the US President I just don't see that anything of substance can be accomplished. Why not just talk on the phone until something more meaningful can be arranged?

Would it have been so bad if Canada had been shunted to the 2nd, 3rd or even 10th country that Obama will visit? Let some other countries get the drop-ins and arrange a true state visit, complete with giving us Canucks the oppourtunity to witness at least something of the event. And if Obama is too busy to be out of the US for more than just a few hours, why not have our PM spend a few days down in D.C.? Its not like Ottawa can't afford to be shut down for a few days, hell our national government was on a self imposed time-out for over a month.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
Wouldn't it be nice to see our leaders sitting down and mapping out joint strategies on the economy, on our military commitment in Afghanistan, on what to do about Omar Kadar? There are a ton of issues that need to be dealt with, any one of which cannot be truly worked upon with a whirl wind meet and greet.

Don't get me wrong here, I greatly admire the new U.S. fact I consider myself a huge fan. But I'm also a patriotic Canadian and I hate seeing Ottawa being treated like a roadside diner with photos of every celebrity who stopped in for toast and coffee.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home
Follow On FaceBook

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do You Keep Up With The Jones'? You Know You Do

In one of my previous incarnations as a financial planner I made it a standard part of my spiel to ask prospective clients: "Do you keep up with the Jones"? Without exception everyone would say they had no interest in "keeping up". I would then proceed to ask another series of questions, and at least 90% of the time the answer to these questions was...Yes.

Do you have cable or satellite?
Do you have call waiting?
Call display?
Hi-Speed Internet?
X-Box, Playstation or some other gaming console?

Can you imagine living without these conveniences? Having to choose between just 10-20 TV stations. Leaving callers to hear an annoying busy signal if your telephone is engaged, inconveniencing them and forcing them to call back. Not knowing who it is calling you before you pick up the phone. Trudging along in your surfing with a cheap and slow dial-up modem. Having to entertain yourself with something as mundane as a book or a board game.

And that's just the tip of the ice berg for a lot of people. Let's not forget health clubs, with their ever escalating membership tiers. "You want to use the new machines? Oh, well they require a special membership...but don't worry, its only $10 more per month". What do you mean your child isn't attending a Montessori school??? Oh my GAWD!!! Little Johnny will never be able to compete with the kids who are already doing long division at age three.

Our consumer driven society knows no bounds, and with cheap and readily available credit who can refuse. Marketing professionals and sales people know exactly which buttons to push, the art of psychology has become so refined that high pressure tactics aren't even needed anymore, although they're still used by some.

Anyone with kids knows which of their friends already have cell phones, game consoles, the latest fashions, tickets to the best sporting events and concerts. I remember how traumatic it was when my Dad refused to buy me a pair of $50+ "designer" jeans...with the fancy pocket stitching. I had to go around in my GWG 'scrubbies' which only cost $10 or $15 while my friends would walk behind me singing the GWG advertising song, "bum bum buh-buh-buh-buh bum bum".
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
So strong was my need for those coveted pair of Sergios that I went out and got myself a job at the golden arches...making something like $2 or $3 bucks per hour and working 2 or 3 shifts a week. After about a month I'd earned enough to finally purchase the object of my desire. But after realizing the countless times I'd asked "do you want fries with that" in order to earn the cash...they suddenly lost their appeal. Strangely my 'bum bum' jeans seemed to suit me just fine.

Maybe I'm tilting at windmills, or worse...maybe I'm a subversive out to destroy the North American economy. After 9-11 the mantra became, 'stop spending and the terrorists win'. It was as though our existence as a free and democratic society hinged on consumers snatching up whatever piece of expensive crap was foisted upon us.

With all of our innovation and technology you'd think our market driven economy could solve all the world's problems, or at least a good chunk of them. Or could it be that we're so busy trying to keep up with, or stay ahead of our peers...that there just isn't enough creative energy left to tackle the really big problems?

And now with the global economy teetering on the edge of disaster...or so we're told, we're seeing hundreds of billions of dollars tossed around the globe in an effort to perpetuate the very culture of consumerism which got us in this hole in the first place. Ah well, its not like its money out of our pockets....its borrowed money that our kids and grand kids will have to pay back.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Follow On FaceBook

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Forgotten Lessons of The Great Depression

My late mother's Aunt Lyla lived to the ripe old age of 98, having been born in 1901. I am thankful for her longevity because she is the closest touch point I have to a painful period in Canada's history, The Great Depression. While history books teach us that the starting point was the stock market crash of October 1929, the actual bottom of the downward trend wasn't reached until 1933.

That would have put dear old Auntie Lyla in her twenties and thirties when Canada's economy spiralled downward with the rest of the world. She knew first hand what it was like to see a father lose his business, how hard jobs were to find when unemployment soared to nearly 40%. She hardly ever spoke of these things, but looking back I'm able to fill in some blanks and get a better understanding about many of the behaviours exhibited by Lyla and her generation.

I'm sure there are many who had (and some who may still have) older relatives who would engage in the same gift opening ritual I observed many times. When presented with a birthday or Christmas present Lyla would always comment: 'What lovely wrapping paper'. Then after prefunctionary comments about how the wrapping was too fine to be discarded, she would open it carefully so as not to tear the precious paper...and after removing the gift the paper would be neatly folded and stored for later use.

In my younger days I used to marvel at this little show, after all wrapping paper is pretty cheap. Personally I've always believed presents should be torn at anxiously, with excited fervor so as to get at the hidden treasure all the more quickly. But then I never lived during a period when people saw their wages steadily decline, if they were lucky enough to be among those who remained employed.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Speed up your PC
Gardening is something many of us view as a hobby, not a task meant to save money. Picking up carrots and other vegetables at the grocery store is certainly more convenient than weeding and caring for a plot of land in back of the house. Backyard vegetable gardens in and around my part of Toronto are pretty rare sights least as far as I've noticed. Far more common are expensively arranged and tediously cared for flower beds, among other pricey landscaping projects.

There are many skills that seem to have vanished from our modern world, things people used to do for themselves just a few generations ago. Oh, I know there are still people out there who can mend and make clothes...who still can fruit and preserve other garden staples like tomatoes. But in most cases I suspect these are hobbies, with any cost saving being an afterthought at best. But 70 to 80 years ago I'm sure there are many who would have preferred simply buying things had the money been available.

I suspect that even when the money was at hand though many were still mindful that 'money doesn't grown on trees'. And with deflation being the norm it was wise to hold onto your cash, because it would buy even more down the road when prices dropped. Credit was shunned, instead buying on 'layaway' became very popular. Stopping by a shop and paying a few dollars a week until the wanted item was paid in full...and THEN brought home. What a shift from our current 'why wait' hedonistic thinking...gimme it now and I'll pay later.

The Depression so affected an entire generation that the maxim 'waste not want not' was more than just a platitude, it was a way of life. My Dad (now 70) remembers the joys of simple desserts, like bread pudding...don't discard that stale bread. My grandmother (Dad's mom) wouldn't even throw away the styrofoam packing from a package of ground beef.

Maybe this recession we're in will prove to be just that...a cyclical downturn that only lasts one or two years. But if it isn't, if it turns out to be another some are now suggesting, I can't help but wondering how society will cope. Will we take the time to learn the skills earlier generations had handed down as a matter of course? Will backyard gardens and homemade garments become the accepted norm?

I don't think that would be such a bad thing, perhaps we've become too used to living on cheap credit just as happened in the time leading up to the dirty thirties. To quote another old saw, if we're handed lemons...we can make lemonade. But rather than going out and buying a package of crystals or frozen concentrate, we can learn how to make it ourselves, from scratch.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is It Time For Harper's Obituary Yet?

I'm certain this isn't the script Harper was planning to follow. Narrowly missing a majority then watching the opposition rally behind a new and stronger leader, one who has pulled the Liberals even with the Tories in the polls. His inner circle shrinking, with the departure of of a senior advisor and a campaign strategist...with speculation that more will soon follow. Some are even contemplating Harper's own exit, perhaps seeing him go back to the only coalition he likes, the NCC.

Ignatieff has thoroughly outplayed his more experienced political rival in his short time as leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition. The Liberal leader can now sit back and watch Harper take the blame as the economy worsens and the stimulus package proves ineffective. In fairness to the Tories, no amount of spending was going to forestall the economic hard times we've been experiencing, and will continue to experience for the foreseeable future.

While it's unfair to blame Harper for the global economic slide, it is absolutely fair to take the Prime Minister and his government to task for the manner in which they've handled it. November's economic statement was nothing short of a joke, an attempt to portray the nation's finances as balanced in case of a vote of non-confidence and an ensuing election. Dion may have been a weak and ineffective leader, but he put Harper back on his heels by signing a coalition agreement with the NDP and getting the Bloc to support it.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Valentine's Day
Speed up your PC
With time no longer on their side Harper and Flaherty had to finally come clean on the state of Canada's finances, and the picture isn't pretty. The budget they presented in response was every bit as ugly as the country's fiscal prospects. With each passing day more and more flags are being raised, even Harper's appointed watchdog has chimed in on the budget's many failings.

At a time when our national treasury is going to be bleeding red ink, those who are lucky enough to remain employed are getting tax breaks. The rationale being that the money saved in taxes will be spent and spur economic activity. News flash, in a recession...people tend to hang on to their cash. That's something the Tories should have considered when our economy was still growing, before piddly little cuts to the GST cut billions from Ottawa's coffers. Billions that could be sorely used now.

It might seem premature to be contemplating Harper's exit from public life. I'm sure there are die hard Tories at work, plowing their way through Iggy's background hoping to find some mud to fling, and hoping in vain that something might stick. Maybe they'll stumble upon a Jeremiah Wright association? Perhaps they can get "Joe The Plumber" to take out citizenship and ambush Iggy during a town hall meeting?

At least the home renovation rebate program will provide Messieurs Harper and Flaherty with some solace. They can install new toilets in their private residences, and when the time comes to contemplate their time at Canada's helm, they can flush for a symbolic pictorial of their political careers in Ottawa.

The Great Depression of the 30's gave rise to the Bennett Buggy, a car pulled by a horse and named in honour of Conservative PM Richard Bennett. Years from now many of us may be sitting on what will be referred to as the Harper Crapper.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To CanadianSoapbox Home

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh Canada - Oh bother...Here's A New National Anthem.....

You may have heard some of the kerfuffle over a New Brunswick Principal's decision to stop having the singing of Oh Canada as part of opening exercises at his elementary school. It hit the news about a week ago, and I didn't give it much thought. But it does seem to be generating a fair degree of discussion in both the blogosphere and through traditional media. Funny thing is the school went a whole year without singing it...and nobody noticed.

Frankly I think there are slightly more serious issues that Canadians need to be worrying about right now. On the other hand this kind of debate about nothing does help us take our minds off more pressing concerns. Personally I like our anthem just fine, and I have no issue with it being sung at the start of the school day. I think it teaches our kids that they are part of a larger community, that they have connection to a greater slice of humanity. I can however see the point about it being a form of indoctrination, and how some might take offense at pledging allegiance (as it were) to a transient political body.

With that in mind I thought I'd write a new anthem for proverbial s##ts and giggles. Without further adieu I give you the new and improved Oh Canada, coming soon to a sporting or cultural event near you:

Oh Canada
The place I now reside
I think it’s nice
You need not take my side

With tolerance
I sing this song
About my nice country

From north to south
And east to west
In town, burb or city

Please let me sing
Softly in this crowd

Oh Canada
Where dissent is allowed

Oh Canada
Where dissent is allowed

Click To Vote For This Post At Progressive Bloggers!!!

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Monday, February 9, 2009

Harper - Dismantling The Nanny State

Its no secret that Stephen Harper is not a big fan of Canada's social safety net, in fact its a matter of public record. A previous entry here made note of several Harper quotes, available on line via CTV. Among them were a couple of gems:
A welfare state? Okay...I guess, depending on one's perspective. Personally, like many other Canadians, I am proud that our country attempts to look after its citizens through socialized programs like Health Care, Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan...among many others. That doesn't mean I don't understand those who share Harper's view. There are many in this country who find our social safety net cumbersome, expensive and ultimately a barrier to greater prosperity. Its not a view I share however, and I suspect even Stephen Harper realizes that to campaign on a plan to dismantle our social programs would give him zero hope of ever attaining a mandate strong enough to begin acting on his true agenda.

The Toronto Sun recently published excerpts from soon to be published memoirs by Gerry Nicholls, a colleague of Harper's from his days with Canada's National Citizens Coalition (some coalitons are okay), the title "Loyal To The Core: Stephen Harper, Me, and the NCC". Included is this little snippet wherein Nicholls writes of Harper's decision to go back into politics and the reason why:
But how do you dismantle social programs that took years to establish? Pierre Trudeau is largely credited with establishing and/or strengthening our national social programs. But it didn't happen overnight, and it didn't come cheaply. Canadians carry a substantial tax burden, the cost of looking after the weakest and most vulnerable members of society, and ensuring a minimum base standard for all Canadians.

That doesn't mean Harper and company haven't been working at eroding the foundation however, and that foundation is our system of taxation which funds our social programs. By lowering the GST by 2 points the Conservatives have weakened the national treasury to the tune of billions of dollars. Individually it only adds up to a penny or two saved here and there...unless you're regularly making purchases in the tens of thousands of dollars. I know there are some out there who do buy new cars worth $50,000 or more every year among other luxury items.

Were I lucky enough to be in that economic strata I might like Harper's plan. social conscience and morals would still get in the way. But if I were self centred to such an extent that I only cared about myself and viewed others as leeching off of my get the idea.
(Blog entry continued after advertisements)
Valentine's Day
Speed up your PC

By wiping out the surpluses previous Liberal governments had operated on, Harper has undercut our national government's ability to even maintain the national programs on which so many Canadians rely, programs upon which many of us base our national identity...We're not the United States, we look after ALL of our citizens! Yes I know it ain't perfect, but it sure as hell beats a user pay system with no minimum standards.

The current economic crisis has allowed Harper to further pursue his agenda. By instituting tax-cuts in the most recent budget the Tories are further hamstringing Ottawa's ability to play an active role in the social welfare of the Canadian people. We'll be racking up over $100 billion in deficit spending over the next 5 years, a lot more if Flaherty's record of forecasting is any indication...and when this crisis is over we're going to be left with one hell of a bill.

Every tax dollar that is spent on servicing the national debt is a tax dollar lost that could be used to fund programs like Health Care, Education, Welfare, Disability, Old Age Supplement...its a long list. And therein lies Harper's chance at success in fulfilling his mission, seeing that his children don't grow up in 'socialist country'. If Canadians ever give Stephen and his Conservatives a majority none of our children will be growing up with the social programs relied upon by all. Better hope those tax cuts can fill the void in a new User-Pay Canada.

Click To Reccomend This Post At Progressive Bloggers!!!

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Scammers Sending Canada Revenue Agency Letters

In a tough economy scams can abound, here's one that looks very sophisticated, sophisticated enough for the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) to issue a warning.

A letter is being circulated that appears to come from the CRA, it asks for detailed personal information including bank account numbers. I haven't seen an actual hard copy of the letter, but the PDF version looks official enough to fool many who might otherwise be skeptical.

People being told that their refunds will be held back until this information is updated could easily be fooled. Communication is the best way to thwart this kind of activity so let everyone you can know about this. The warning is from August of 2008, but as we enter tax season this is something to keep an eye on.

Here's the official word from CRA's website:

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pro Choice To The MAX!!! 60 Year Old Gives Birth To Twins

Canadian Press is reporting that a 60 year old Alberta woman has given birth to twin boys. Apparently the woman and her husband had tried unsuccessfully for years to conceive, both naturally and with medial help. Undeterred the couple traveled halfway around the world to India where they tried yet again, this time successfully. The woman was implanted with donor eggs and became pregnant with triplets. One of the fetuses was aborted however to ensure the survival of the other two.

A Globe & Mail article reports that a Canadian fertility clinic refused treatment, which prompted the trip to India. The woman's own obstetrician is quoted as saying he has ethical concerns about providing fertility services to a woman of advanced years, as was the case here. The article goes on to state that in Canada the age cut off for fertility treatment is 50.

I don't get it??? Why does Canada impose limits on a woman's reproductive rights? If a woman decides she wishes to become pregnant at 50, 60 or 70, heck why not 80... and can find a doctor willing to provide the service, why should she be refused? Why is this country forcing women to travel great distances and incur significant expense to obtain services that could be made available right here?

Some might try to make the point that it is not "as" safe for a post-menopausal woman to have a baby as opposed to younger mothers, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. So long as a woman is made aware of the risks involved shouldn't she be left to make the determination in consultation with a doctor? And if her doctor refuses she should have leave to find a physician who agrees with her choice and is willing to provide treatment. Would it be unreasonable to mandate that Doctors must be willing to provide such services regardless of their own moral or ethical concerns? I don't think so.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Valentine's Day
Speed up your PC

This could be a potential growth industry. We should strive to make Canada the geriatric fertility capital of the world! With an aging population surely this couple's situation isn't unique, there must be countless other couples who would love to be raising children while their friends worry about keeping regular and where they left their teeth.

I know some will bemoan the potential health difficulties of the children conceived by Moms who are senior citizens, and the strain in could place on our Health Care system. But this is Canada, where individual rights and security of the person are enshrined in our Charter. If we're willing to fund abortion procedures then surely our system can handle the costs associated with the potential health complications these kids might have.

Let's can the debate over morals and ethics, those are matters of personal choice in this country. If there are women out there willing to pay the bucks to undergo fertility treatments we shouldn't be restricting access on the basis of something as arbitrary as age. The state has no place legislating a woman's reproductive rights.

Globe & Mail Story
Canadian Press Article

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back to Canadian Soapbox Home

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Will Christian Right Stick With Harper's Conservatives?

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have done very well in attracting Canada's Christian constituency. In our most recent federal election polling indicated that Harper's Tories garnered roughly 75% of the votes among those who attend Evangelical Churches. That percentage is roughly equal to the number of Evangelical Christians who typically vote Republican south of the border. VANCOUVER SUN STORY

The obvious question is...Can it hold?

Harper has done nothing on issues important to Christian voters, and by all indications he has no intention of touching any of the contentious issues near and dear to many social conservatives. Two of the biggies are obviously Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage, but Harper never addresses either of these concerns. Christian voters must be deeply disappointed in a Prime Minister who won't even discuss many of the issues they feel most passionate about, let alone act on them legislatively.

Of course some might ask if there's any other alternative. Disaffected Progressive Conservative Christians were a major part of the impetus which saw Preston Manning's Reform Party vault to national prominence, which in turn nearly wiped the old PC party off the political map. Manning though was never able to achieve the political power Stephen Harper has achieved, and yet Christian voters continue to see their concerns ignored.

So what will it take? Does another Preston Manning have to emerge on the scene, creating a new party for Canada's social conservatives? Perhaps not. There is already a party which would likely appeal to many of Canada's devoutly Christian voters.
(Blog entry continued after advertisements)
Valentine's Day
Speed up your PC

The Christian Heritage Party has been around since 1987, fielding its first candidates in the 1988 general election. It was de-registered for a while, during the time when the old Reform/Alliance parties were attracting a lot of social conservatives. It was re-registered in time for the 2004 election and has continued to field candidates ever since. In the 2008 federal election the CHP received over 26,000 votes nationally, roughly the same number they had in the 2006 election when overall voter turnout was much higher.

In 2008 they elected a new party leader in Jim Hnatiuk, a veteran of Canada's Armed Forces who is currently a deacon with Emmanuel Baptist Church. There is a complete platform available on their website: which includes a Pro-Life stance on abortion as well a commitment to the traditional definition of marriage.

For those concerned that the CHP doesn't have policies outside of the socially conservative Christian realm, don't worry...they do. Their policies cover everything from Economy to Immigration, from Foreign Affairs to Resource Management:

Rather than waiting and hoping in vain for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to bring attention to the issues most important to socially conservative Christians, maybe its time to rally behind a party that won't bend to political expediency. I don't think any rational individual would hold out any hope of the CHP achieving overwhelming electoral success when we next go to the polls. But even the election of a single MP would give the CHP a platform from which to speak, and the ability to bring issues such as Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage to the table. Something the Conservative Party of Canada in general and Stephen Harper in particular are totally unwilling to do.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Iran Flexing Its Muscle, Wants U.S. Apology

Iran launched its first ever satellite yesterday, an achievement which has many western nations fearing the military capability that could ensue. The timing coincides with Iran's 1979 revolution which overthrew the U.S. backed Shah. It also comes as Barack Obama is attempting to foster diplomatic negotiations in an attempt to halt Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions.

Obama, as he stated during his campaign, is willing to engage Iran in direct talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying, "We are reaching out a hand, but the fist has to unclench". Iran however is apparently insisting that the United States, often referred to as the "Great Satan", must first apologize for past wrongs.

What wrongs has the U.S. committed against the people of Iran? A good starting point might be the overthrow of democratically elected Prime Minister Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh

Mossadegh had nationalized Iranian oilfields, which resulted in the British and American governments conspiring to overthrow the democratically elected PM in a plot code named Operation Ajax. After the successful coup the hated Shah of Iran was installed as a western friendly dictator. Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, better known as the Shah Of Iran, was a much for the U.S. promoting democracy. Anyone who did not join his Rastakiz Party was a traitor.

To quote 'The Shah' directly:

"A person who does not enter the new political party and does not believe in the three cardinal principles will have only two choices. He is either an individual who belongs to an illegal organization, or is related to the outlawed Tudeh Party, or in other words a traitor. Such an individual belongs to an Iranian prison, or if he desires he can leave the country tomorrow, without even paying exit fees; he can go anywhere he likes, because he is not Iranian, he has no nation, and his activities are illegal and punishable according to the law”

(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Valentine's Day

If that's not sufficient then there's the U.S. backing of Saddam Hussein when he launched an invasion against neighbouring Iran. The result was an 8 year war which is said to have killed 500,000 soldiers and civilians. There was a time when Iraq had weapons of mass destruction as well as chemical warfare agents like mustard gas, they'd been supplied by the Americans to be used against Iran.

It would seem there's plenty the U.S. should apologize for, but doing so would probably be political suicide for America's new President. Obama though could point to the apology already offered back in 2000 by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during the first Clinton administration wherein she called Operation Ajax. "a setback for democratic government".

Obviously the Iranians are not about to be bullied by the west, they've already been down that road and I doubt they want to go back. They've opened their own Oil Exchange or Oil Bourse, which refuses to deal in U.S. dollars, something Iraq did just prior to being invaded.

Obviously the launch of a satellite is of concern, there are only 9 countries which have accomplished the feat. And of those 9 only Japan has not later developed missile technology.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back to CanadianSoapbox Home

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NY Times & Manhattan Blog Laud Ignatieff - Comparisons to Obama

I heard this on the radio yesterday, about a NY Times article on Ignatieff entitled: "Running On Book Sense And Charm" and about a popular NYC blog called gawker posting an entry with the title: "Is Michael Ignatieff Canada's Barack Obama".

The comparisons are inevitable, Canadians often use the U.S. as a measuring stick, especially with politicians. I myself couldn't resist Iggy-Obama musings back on December 10th when I posted this entry: Will Canadians Get Jiggy With Iggy

Now that we've seen far more of both Ignatieff and newly installed President Obama...I don't think the comparisons hold water at all. Barack Obama is hip and cool in ways that no 61 year old former career academic can be. On top of that Obama's speeches can send chills down my spine, his keynote address to the Democratic convention in 2004 is still one I enjoy listening to. Ignatieff is far too pragmatic and middle of the road to stir any passion. Obama is willing to stake out his ground and lead, Ignatieff strikes me as one who prefers to keep his options open while he surveys the lay of the land.

Its a function of two different cultures. Americans believe in E Pluribus Unum, or "out of many, one". Canadians though take one and make many. Despite his popularity here, I highly doubt a leader of Obama's stature could ever emerge on the Canadian political scene. Imagine Obama addressing a cross section of Canadians and trying to unite us in common purpose as he did at the 2004 DNC.

"We are one nation, one people".
Comment? Je comprends pas, il faut le dire en francais M. Obama!!!

If Obama tried to bring Canadians all together under one tent, Quebecers would say they need their own tent. After proving their constitutional right to such a tent Alberta would start muttering under her breath about how Quebec always gets preferential treatment. Obama is in favour of restricting access to Late Term Abortion, so he'd be tarred and feathered by the Pro-Choice Lobby here.
(Blog entry continued after advertisement)
Valentine's Day

Our political cultures are different. While American politicians are constantly talking about the divisive nature of partisan politics, we in Canada have it entrenched in our system. Newfoundland MPs wishing to vote against the Conservative budget required special dispensation from Ignatieff or ran the risk of being kicked out of the Liberal caucus, or even possibly the party.

I'd like to see more passion from our politicians, and passion combined with intellect is a winning combination. But Ignatieff strikes me as far too cautious to be passionate about anything. I think his book: "The Lesser Evil" says it all. Rather than stake out ground on principal and conviction Ignatieff prefers to seek middle ground...which actually has been the secret to Liberal success for the better part of our history.

Barack Obama he ain't.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

Back To Canadian SoapBox Home