Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hey Tony Clement! I'm still wondering!

The day after my previous posting I saw a response of sorts from the gang in Ottawa.

They intend to crack down on the gasoline sellers.  Not the oil barons, but the guys trying to make a living selling you gas at the station.  They claim these retailers are ripping you off by not giving all the gas you’re being charged for.

Right idea, Wrong people.  Gasoline pumps have seals placed on them to prevent tampering.  The oil companies, not so much.

Not that long ago, a person was severely overcharged for his gas.  The station’s defence?  The price was indicated on the pump.  Caveat Emptor.  Look before you leap.  Apparently, someone accidently punched in the wrong price at the main office.  So they tell us the local seller sets the price, but it has to be entered from the main office?

I was in the variety store, the owner’s wife was working and the agent from the oil company was grilling her about lowering the price without permission.  I often shop at this store, the lady in question is very nice but has limited English.  She asked the agent to come back when her husband was there to deal with this.  The agent was so intent on berating this woman he ignored me.  So I waited patiently and wondered about his oil company.  Apparently some pumps can have the price set locally, but only with permission of the supplier.

They no longer have gas pumps.  Must be tough to sell gas when the guy across the street sells it about 2¢ cheaper than you all of the time.  I think the final straw was the dramatic increase in “gas and goes” occurring due to higher prices.  Even with the video security they put in place, they were still losing out because of this. (I asked after the pumps were removed.  The owner looked happier though.)

So the problem lies further up the food chain. 

The only way to find out what the devil is going on is to get these oil barons in front of committees and grill them.  If nothing else, at least they would realize that people are watching.  Nothing makes a thief more honest than to realize they are being watched.

How about it Tony?

Is it just here?  I’ve noticed that the Service Stations are disappearing at a rapid pace and being replaced by gas bars at a slower rate.  I honestly don’t know if there is a service station with a garage left in this town.

By the way, If you really are serious about checking to see the pumps are accurate, why not start sending inspectors out like they did in the good old days.  If the pump is wrong, lock it off until it is repaired and reinspected at the retailer’s cost.  This isn’t rocket science guys.  On their off days they could check the scales at the stores too.  Make sure when I buy a kilo of ground beef that there is really a kilo there.

~~~If this doesn't make a lot of sense, you may want to look at the previous two posts... this is part 3 of (I hope) a 3 part series~~~

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tony Clement, when are you looking into the gas prices? Part 2

Well it’s about a week after I noticed the price of gas go up at the bellwether station, they came back down the next day.  Yesterday everybody jumped up except one, who had a sale on gas.  Everyone went to $1.29 except the one that dropped to $1.16, he’s back in line now at $1.29.

Now this is where I want Tony or Christian or Steve or any other member of the cockup caucus to step up to the plate.

The Canadian Dollar is trading high with all the woes in the US.  $1.06 yesterday, $1.05 today and it has been running at par or better for some time.  The price of oil has been pretty flat as of late and is now dropping again and sits at $97.17 right now.  That’s in US Dollars by the way, that would be about $92.54 in Canadian Dollars.  What is going on?

Now don’t give me any grief about HST, that’s a separate issue. 

The fact is we’re being bent over by the oil barons and our their conservative government isn’t saying a word.  Why should they?  The oil guys back them, so much so that the conservatives are looking at a PR firm to sell the tar oil sands as being wonderful for the world, even if Europe thinks otherwise.  Besides, they get car allowances which probably cover all the gas they can use.

The bottom line is Tony wrote a cheque with his mouth that he is unable or unwilling to back up.  Christian is in Tony’s old chair and not saying a word about it either.  These guys are looking the other way for their corporate pals again instead of looking out for the people who elected them.

I offer the Rob Ford salute to these guys.

In closing,  I send my best wishes for a quick and full recovery to the Honourable Jack Layton.  We need a man like Jack in Ottawa, and we would like for you to be that man.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tony Clement, when are you looking into the gas prices?

On the drive home from work the other day I noticed one local gas station had upped their prices by 7¢ per litre.  This particular station tends to be the bellwether in our area, the price usually going up to their level in a few days. 

I thought the conservatives were going to look into this...

A few months ago, on May the 12th to be precise, Tony Clement held a press conference.  He said he wanted the petroleum industry to explain how they set gasoline prices.

Well Tony, it’s now July 23rd and we’re still waiting.  What’s the hold-up bub?

Could it be that our overpriced gasoline could be filling the Ottawa coffers and we don’t want to mess with a good thing?  The inflation numbers say gasoline is 25% higher than last year but oil prices are not.  Every litre puts an extra 25¢ into the oil companies’ pockets and puts an extra 1.5¢ into the government’s pockets as well.  This is beyond the normal taxes we gas users pay every week.

Between you and the oil companies, I’m seeing about $10.00 per week go into my tank that could be going elsewhere.  Unlike you and the other Hogs at the trough, I need to watch my money, stretch it as far as I can.  Outside of food and gasoline my discretionary spending is about nil.  There are a lot like me who don’t have the cash to take part in the economic recovery.

It sure was nice of your pals Flaherty and Harper to give the oil companies a tax break.  I get to pay for it I guess.  Maybe this is part of the deal you and you pals cut for the oil execs.  You help us get elected and we’ll ignore your record profits?  No, it was after the election you made your statements.

Or maybe you just forgot about it.  You got a new job and Chris Paradis got your old one.  You could send him an email or a memo and remind him about your promise to the people of Canada.  You see Tony, I come from a place and time where a man’s word means something, what’s it like where you come from?  Or did your new job have something to do with keeping you mouth shut and leaving the oil companies alone?

Or maybe it’s just that conservative thing.  Say anything then forget about it.  Or lie about it.  Like that border money thing that put gazebos in Muskoka?  You see, in the real world, that’s misappropriation of funds.  That’s illegal. 

In your world, it apparently is OK.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hey Julian Fantino!

In a recent letter to the Vancouver Sun, Julian Fantino, -a junior- Associate Minister of National Defence says he wants to clarify some facts. 

Clarify is an interesting word to use, he just muddies the water some more, spewing some Harperisms.

·         Canadians did not give a “strong mandate” to the conservatives to purchase tools of war.  We voted and the conservatives got a majority.  You did not campaign on buying weapons for the military and we did not tell you to.

·          No one has yet shown that the F35 is the best, and in your words, the only aircraft that meets Canada’s needs for the future.  The only way that has been shown in the past has been by holding a competition, allowing the manufacturers to show what they have to offer and selecting the best options for Canada.  In the past, we determined that a twin engine jet was a necessity for a Canadian Fighter.  We have had single engine jets in the past and they did not meet our needs.  Look at what the experts, the people who flew the planes called the CF 104 Starfighter.  The Widowmaker.  The Lawn Dart. 

When Canada went shopping for a replacement for the CF 104, one of the requirements was that we purchase a twin engine Fighter in part because of the 110 Starfighters lost to accidents.  We ended up with the CF 18 Hornet.  An aircraft that despite its age is still viable today.

·          The interoperability with our allies.  What does this mean?   Our current CF 18 seems to be able to do this.  Any 4th generation or better fighter will be able to as well.

You mention in your letter that the Liberal Government launched this process back in the 1990s which is actually true.  They entered into an agreement that allowed Canadian companies the opportunity to bid on contracts for the F 35 project with an option to buy if it fit our needs.  The Department of Defence was still planning on competitions to find a replacement for our aging fleet of CF 18s when we entered this agreement.  It was Stephen Harper that overruled that. 

I think you need to explain to your colleagues about how to play poker.  Just because you ante up doesn’t mean you’ll be in at the showdown.  It just gets you into the game.  If the cards don’t come, you fold.

Our allies are reconsidering their purchase of the F 35 right now.  The spiralling cost overruns, uncertain delivery dates, unproven technologies involved, and the software required to operate these planes appears to not be included with the purchase price, just like the engines.  These countries are considering reducing the quantities ordered or looking to purchase elsewhere.  Why?  Because they need to know that they are buying viable aircraft that will be available when they require it.

The Canadian F35s appear to have a date of 2010+ for delivery; this is beyond the window for the CF 18 Hornets according to your people.  But I guess that’s OK. 

There are a number of Military and Air Force experts out there all wondering why Canada is hell bent so intent on buying these planes.  We tend not to fight offensive wars where first strike capability is required.  Stealth, while a nice feature is not a requirement at the top of the list.  We are far better suited, according to the experts I’ve read, to be looking at fast, manoeuvrable planes with long range capability for interception and enforcement of our airspace.  And we need something that can land in our existing facilities.

Yes, a few months ago, no one knew that Canadian Airmen would be dropping bombs on Libya.  A few months ago we were congratulating Libya on their efforts to become a world citizen.  Or maybe that was a few years ago, it is hard to tell in politic speak.

Canada’s participation in the F 35 Joint Strike Program only ensures that Canadian companies have the ability to bid on contracts.  Nothing more.

Would Julian Fantino have ordered unproven police cars a decade before they were to be produced?  Would Julian Fantino dare to purchase police cars without tendering bids?

Here is my offer to you Julian, you and Steve and Peter tell us how much these planes are going to cost.  What is the cost to buy, the cost for upkeep, you get the idea.  Then we’ll tell you how much we are willing to pay for these jets, I’ll say 10% beyond the prices you give us for now.  I can be generous too.  Now here’s the deal... the conservative party of Canada will sign a note that the party and the members will pay every cent beyond the agreed upon price.

That seems fair to me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A few words on Lowell Murray.

I came across a speech made by Lowell Murray at  You can read it here:
It’s a very good read, it has much to think about in it, and it is quite brief which is unusual for a politician.

Lowell Murray is a Progressive Conservative member of the Senate, appointed by Joe Clark.  Brian Mulroney later appointed Senator Murray to his Cabinet as Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Murray has an issue with omnibus bills as do I.  In one such bill, the requirement that the Finance Minister must explain in the House why Canada needs to borrow money was removed, allowing the Finance Minister and Prime Minister the power to do this behind closed doors.  This embarrassed Senator Murray to the point where he asked the government caucus to restore the original rules.  He was rejected.

On another later omnibus bill, Senator Murray attempted to have the bill broken into parts in the Senate.  The Senate does not have the power to stop Financial Bills and Senator Murray’s proposal would have allowed the financial portions to pass but allow further debate on the rest of the bill.  The conservative members of the Senate stopped this, and the bill was passed.

Senator Murray’s speech covers many points about government, how the House has lost most of its powers to the Prime Minister’s Office and to the Cabinet and that it is now mostly ineffectual.  He quotes Gladstone, You are not here to govern; rather you are here to hold to account those who do.  The Members of the House need to recover their power to do this.

Another point that Senator Murray touches on is the loss of independence of the local riding association.  If a riding chooses candidates that the party does not approve of, the party can reduce funding to punish the riding association or unilaterally decide on who will be the candidate for that riding regardless of what the local association says.

Our political system has gotten to the point where the dictates of a small group determine who will run, what policy will be and how their members shall vote.  No sane MP would vote contrary to the party, its political suicide.  Ask your candidates about anything next election.  Every word will be party approved.

We need a Senate to stand up to the government and ensure the passage of only the laws that are good for Canada and Canadians.

The Prime Minister may have control over who is named to the Senate, but once they enter the Red Chamber, their debate should only include is this good for my Region, my Province, and my Country?  Their politics may have influence on their debate, but it should Never be the reason for voting for or against any legislation regardless of which party introduced and supported the bill in the House.

We need a Senate that will stand up for Canadians.

We need more Senators like Lowell Murray.

Senator Murray will be retiring in September as he will be 75.  Best wishes on your birthday Senator.  I hope you will enjoy your retirement.