Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Note to Roman Catholic Church - If you take public $ you have to answer for it

Ah Rome and her church, the last crumbling and rotting vestige of a once powerful global empire.

The Toronto Star is reporting that Cardinal Thomas Collins, archbishop of Toronto, has his robes in a knot over not being able to discriminate against students with a homosexual orientation.

Go cry to an altar boy.

Well Mr. Collins...there's a simple solution to your problem. If you don't like Catholic schools being dictated to by elected officials, then stop accepting public funds for the running of your schools. Its that old saw about not being able to have your cake and eat it too.

Hopefully the church will eventually see the errors of its ways. The church has made enormous strides over the years after all. Rome now realizes that our sun doesn't revolve around this planet, and they've stopped murdering people for refusing to accept Rome's authority. Heck they don't even shuttle pedophile priests around anymore so they can prey on new victims, at least I hope they don't.

The church has been wrong about so many things so many times, and that continues to this day.  Thankfully in our modern enlightened age we have human law to counteract inferior religious dictates. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ottawa citizen reports - Thomas Mulclair has a mortgage on his home

This is news? 

Postmedia Network, owners of such bastions of liberal journalism as the National Post and Ottawa Citizen, is reporting that NDP leader Thomas Mulclair has a mortgage on his west island Montréal home. 

How much does he owe?  Thanks to Postmedia's dogged research Canadians now know the mortgage is valued at a whopping $300,000.  Whoa Nelly, STOP THE PRESSES!!!

Of course, that's not really very juicy is it?  Gotta give it some spin, and here's where Postmedia really shines.  Apparently the property has been refinanced numerous times!!! 

The headline in the Ottawa Citizen reads:  NDP leader has remortgaged his home 11 times since early 1980s.

I wonder how many people will bother reading the article?  My guess, not many.  That's the beauty of a juicy and prejorative headline.

Okay, so what we're being told is that Mr. Mulclair has refinanced his home on 11 different occasions over the past 30 years and that the amount owing on the mortgage is $300K.  I  bet there are lots of Canadians who would love it if their home only had a mortgage at that amount.  Think of all the poor saps who've been buying into the Canadian housing bubble over the past 5 years or so.  Given the west island address I'm going to assume there's a fair bit of equity there as well.

Why refinance?  Why not?  With uber-low interest rates and many investments offering superior gains it can certainly be argued that freeing up equity to get your capital working is a very wise move.  Dare I suggest it could even be argued that is shows business and fiscal savy?

From where I sit this is very good news for the NDP.  It suggests to me that Conservative minded media outlets are paying attention.  Why?  Because the NDP under Mulclair is gaining some traction, and with the Liberals continued weakness, that could prove troublesome for the governing Tories down the road. 

Better still is that the dirt their digging up, well its too clean to call it dirt.  Next up we're probably going to be reading how many times the NDP leader goes to the bathroom.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

EI changes nudge Canada further to the right

For the majority of Canadians, those who identify themselves as centre-left on the political spectrum, the announced changes to EI show further evidence of Canada evolving into a more and more Conservative nation.  Hrmmm, maybe I shouldn't capitalize in this case, we're actually becoming more 'small c' conservative in my view.

The proposed changes...pfffft, its a majority government so who cares if they're only 'proposed' at this point. 

The changes will make it more difficult to for those who've accessed EI multiple times to refuse work.  I have no doubt that some will take exception to this, arguing that it will result in people being forced into jobs which don't match their qualifications.  And that this is more pandering to business interests, forcing workers to lower their salary expectations.

There is merit to that argument certainly, and I do think Diane Finley stepped in it when saying that EI recipients should be working at McDonald's if they have the qualifications for the job.  I think the main qualification is a pulse.  I'm betting that's the line of attack opposition parties will take. 

Improving the economy, one Big Mac at a time.

EI is a user pay system, and it irked me that under the Chrétien/Martin Liberals EI took in billions more in revenue than it paid out in benefits.  Of course under the Liberals we had balanced and surplus budgets thanks in part to the tightening of EI eligibility rules, so perhaps the Tories are thinking along the same lines.  But minimum wage jobs aren't going to do much to improve a person's standard of living.

At the end of the day EI is meant to be a hand-up, not a hand out.  And I, like many, know that there are individuals who milk the system.  I agree with Jim Flaherty's comment about there not being a bad job, there are no small jobs in my books...only small people.  There is dignity in work from where I sit, regardless of what a person is doing.

But he economy is fragile right now, with our massive housing bubble starting to show strain.  McJobs aren't going to get the economy going in the right direction.

Bottom line though, I think most Canadians won't have an issue with these changes, most Canadians are working thankfully.  Individual opinions might change however the first time a former EI recipient has to ask: "Do you want fries with that"?

Read the full story, with Minister Finley's McDonald's comments here:

Workers' EI history to affect claim under new rules

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What are the changes to EI? Harper government says 'trust us'

I've been reading about proposed changes to EI legislation, with speculation rampant that benefits will become harder to qualify for, particularly for those who repeatedly access the program.

Okay, fair enough.

I don't consider myself an extremist on any issue, and that includes social programs like EI.  I'm certain that some on the left will deride any effort that makes Employment Insurance more difficult to obtain, however I'll hold back on forming an opinion until there's more information.

What does rankle me however is that according to a CBC story (HERE) the government wants the legislation enabling the changes to pass first, and then they'll provide the details. 

Uhm...that smells. 

After the F35 mess the Harper government is really pushing its luck in expecting the trust of Canadians.  In all likelihood though its probably more a case of the Conservatives banking on a lazy and ill informed electorate, especially when we're still in the early stages of a majority mandate.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is reported as saying the changes will be fair and reasonable.  Well, if that's the case why aren't Canadians and our elected representatives being given the details? 

Our democracy is becoming more and more like the U.S. system every day under Stephen Harper, with decision making and control being centred in the PMO.  The only problem is that Canada lacks a body like the U.S. congress to provide a check on executive power. 

As far as changes to EI go, I'm not so blind as to think the system is perfect, and that changes can't be made to improve it.  I have no doubt that there are people accessing the system repeatedly even though they could be working. 

I actually agree with recent comments made by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty regarding the dignity of work.  In a related CBC story from May 15th Flaherty is quoted as saying:

I have no issue with that statement whatsoever, I share the same view .  I too have taken jobs many might consider beneath them, I've been a janitor and pumped gas, I even drove a taxi myself...although that was a summer job and the cab was a bicycle called a pedi-cab. 

Whatever the changes are, this is a system that Canadians pay for and we deserve to know what the government is planning before the fact, not after. 

If Canadians can't get the straight goods on the purchase of billion dollar fighter jets we should at least get the details on EI changes with a chance for fair and reasonable debate before they're implemented.

Flying from Quebec City to Toronto via Porter

I don't want to come across as a corporate shill or anything, but at the same time when there's a product or service that I enjoy, I like to share my opinion.

Such is the case with Porter Airlines, with whom I have now flown twice from Québec City to Toronto.  I am now living in Québec's capital city, but for about 30 years I grew up and lived in the Greater Toronto Area, from Etobicoke to Whitby and many points in between.

The distance between my residence and my father's house near where my children live is about 750 km, and that makes for a long drive.  I've done it often enough already and it isn't fun, finally getting to my destination with an affliction I call 'numb ass'.  And with gas prices being what they are the cost is close to $100.   

Because Porter flies into Toronto's Island Airport...or Billy Bishop...I'm right downtown and can hop on a Go Train for a quick ride to Pickering.  My flight left Québec City's Jean Lesage airport at 6:30 AM.  We landed right about 8AM and I was on the train shortly after 9, getting to my father's house a little after 10.  Had I been driving I'd barely have been half way in that time. 

It cost a bit more than what gas would have cost, but not by much, and that's not counting wear and tear on the car. 

My only complaint is having to wait for the stupid ferry to shuttle me across about one hundred lousy yards of water!!!  I know there's a tunnel in the works, but seriously...what's wrong with a simple little walking bridge?!?!

In Pickering they've put a bridge over the 401 that took what would have been a 45 minute walk and made it only 20, and I'm sure its cheaper than a tunnel. 

Of course the ferry has nothing to do with Porter, that's up to Toronto City Council I imagine and the Toronto Port Authority. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A solution to the Québec student strikes...bill baby boomers

I'm really getting fed up with baby boomers, especially those who to try to characterize the Québec student strikers as being greedy and out of touch with reality.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Tuition fees in Quebec were frozen when baby boomers stormed through the educational system.  They earned their degrees, designations and lamb skins without having to worry about what their education cost.  Hey man its cool, education is important to society so government should pay.  Of course 'government' means taxpayers, and back then boomers paid very little, if anything, in taxes.

Flash forward 40 or so years as the greedy generation puts on their Depends undergarments while trying to pick out which retirement home they'll move into when they're nearing death's door.  Now many of the gimme gimme boomers are whining about how Québecs tuition costs will still be the lowest in Canada and that today's students need to face up to reality.

Ahhhh, reality.  The reality is that boomers repeatedly elected governments which funded the programs they wanted, and then paid for them by borrowing money from their kids and grand kids in the form of future taxes, service cuts and of course...tuition hikes.

So here's the solution, et Monsieur Charest...c'est cent pour cent gratuit, je sais que vous avez pas assez de l'argent pour me payer. 

All those Viagra popping, Botox junkie boomers who suckled at the public teet to earn their diplomas, degrees and designations...match them up with graduate students heading into the job market with a large chunk of debt around their necks, and have them split the cost. 

If Jean-Louis comes out of med-school needing to pay down a $100K student loan, then take $50K of it and assign it to a boomer who graduted with a degree in medicine between the sixties and early nineteen eighties.

Of course a solution like this would require boomers to do something their parents were very familiar with, its called sacrifice.  But I won't hold my breath expecting Canada's worst generation to endorse any idea or initiative that calls on them to give instead of take.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Christian crackpot radio and useless Bible prophecy

I've been doing a fair bit of driving lately, often between the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Québec City.  Entertainment while behind the wheel is typically my car stereo as my vehicle is over 15 years old and doesn't have a CD player.  Anyone remember cassettes?

I make good use of the seek button and often find myself tuning into American stations which are dedicated to spreading God's word, or the narrow fundamentalist Christian take on it.

Such was the case this past week as I found myself listening to some yahoo expound on Biblical prophecy and specifically what it says about the nation of Israel.  You know the story in all likelihood, God's chosen, a master race if I dare invoke that term. 

Interesting stuff, and certainly good for a chuckle.  You see God, in his infinite wisdom, decided he'd give the Hebrew people the land of Canaan, a nice little present.  If you have trouble wrapping your head around the concept of God worrying about who lives where on this planet, try thinking of him as a Re-Max agent.

But what is Canaan?  Well, God is pretty specific on that point. In Genesis God promises Abraham and all his descendants certain boundaries, lands occupied by certain peoples.  In chapter 15 it says: 

To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites

It probably would have been nice if God, being all powerful and everything, if he had let all those people know he was taking their land from them.  Then again, it looks like God overstepped himself given that the Jewish or Hebrew people have never occupied all the land that is supposedly their's by divine authority.  Don't you hate it when divine beings don't stick to their word?

If God had kept his promise Israel would have included a massive chunk of what we currently call the Middle East.  But then the God of the Old Testament could be pretty erratic.  God had no problem with Moses ordering the killing of women and children, or with the keeping of slaves, or with taking conquered virgins as sex toys....or if you prefer the more polite term...concubines.

So why do I listen to this garbage when I don't believe a word of it?

Well, it does provide a decent window into the minds of many of today's ultra right wing neo-conservatives. 

And it also helps explain why some Conservative bright bulbs, like failed GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, have such a hate on for higher education.  Going to schools of higher learning that teach students the art of critical thought flies directly in the face of the blind obedience that so many fundamentalist Nimrods, (a little Biblical nod for those who get it) demand.

God and his prophets say and advocate many things which civilized people would never tolerate.  Stoning disobedient children is one good example, condoning the seduction of a friend's wife and then murdering that friend to hide the infidelity is probably an even better one...An eye for an eye?  Uhm, only some of the time. 

Any rational thinking person would take these writings for what the truly are, and would dismiss the God crap as leaders seeking justification for the atrocities they've committed. 

Its okay, God says we're cool, kill 'em all...the land is ours.

Fundamentalist, evangelical Bible beating holy rollers used to cast their franchise in the United States mostly with the Democrats.  Not hard to understand, it was because of Jesus' teachings about compassion and being your brother's keeper.  At least that was the case until senior American evangelicals were seduced into putting their pulpits to work for the Republican  party.  And we're seeing the same thing take place north  of the border in the last 10 years or so with our Conservative party.