Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today I agree with a Repulican, sort of...

It just seems that there are few places in Canada where you can get away from the oil issue.  Enbridge is still having leaks, and now they have permission to reverse the flow of oil in Ontario, the Chinese trying to buy Nexen (a Canadian oil company) which has upset the Americans and the ongoing soap opera in B.C. over the proposed pipeline to the Pacific.

Christy Clark, the Premier of B.C. was in a war of words with Premier Alison Redford of Alberta.  Basically it boiled down to Christy wanting money to allow the oil through B.C. and wanting a piece of the royalties paid to the Alberta government by the oil companies.  Alison suggested she do something else.

No money=No pipeline.

This issue was further escalated by the appearance of the Harper government’s pet bulldog John Baird who announced that no province has the power to hold Canada’s economy hostage. 

Now it seems to have calmed down.  Christy is no longer calling for a share of the royalties but only a tax on oil that goes through B.C.  Alison has no issue with this as it doesn’t affect her province’s royalties…

But the aboriginal people in B.C. are not amused.  They thought they were on the same team over the oil pipeline, the team with the environmentalists on it.  I guess not.  Money talks and, well you know the rest.  Link to the story.

Next we touch on the Nexen-China deal.

This is a strange puppy as there are Republicans and Democrats and a Bear Cat who are uneasy about this.

Republican Congressman Randy Forbes is upset that the deal would give China access to the U.S. energy market and he doesn’t support that.  He blames President Obama for the delays with the Keystone XL pipeline which was to pass through environmentally sensitive areas. Link to the story.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer wants the deal blocked because it would give China access to the U.S. energy market and he doesn’t want that until China opens up their energy markets to U.S. firms.  Link to the story.

The Bear Cat is confused as to why our right wing media types are all whiney and moany about Dr. Bethune and the Chinese Communists but really haven’t said much about the Chinese buying Nexen at all.  The Chinese state owned company CNOOC is trying to buy Nexen, and it baffles me as to why these media types scream bloody murder about the Canadian government being involved in the oil fields but seem as happy as clams about a foreign government being there and Communists to boot.

Just to add to the confusion, the U.S. securities regulator (the SEC) is investigation insider trading in the CNOOC-Nexen deal.  It seems a number of investors in Asia bought Nexen shares just before the CNOOC announcement that they were going to buy Nexen, which sent Nexen stocks up 52%. Link to the story.

Next on the list, our friends at Enbridge got permission to reverse the flow of an oil pipeline in Ontario which links Sarnia to Hamilton.  Enbridge did have to make some big promises before it was allowed but some are arguing that it won’t be enough.

I’m no expert when it comes to oil and pipelines and trying to find out about these things on the internet is almost impossible.  There are seas of information, but the information is usually so biased that it is difficult to reach a real conclusion.  However it is worth noting that this pipeline (line 9) is part of the same system of lines that the oil spill in Kalamazoo Michigan came from.  Link to the story.

And finally, Enbridge is dealing with yet another spill.  This one is in Wisconsin.  Enbridge did manage to get the line shut down quickly but 1000 barrels of oil still managed to escape.  The scary part is this was a fairly new line built in 1998.  That is likely newer than the one in Ontario they are reversing. Link to the story.

Enbridge is none to popular in the Midwest right now.

Look, I’m not naïve, I realize that if there is oil to be got in Alberta that someone is going to get it.  What I’m after is why aren’t Albertans pushing to process the oil in Alberta?  That would make sense to me.

After the bitumen is processed into oil and gas, it can be sent all over the place in pipelines with greatly reduced risk.  That makes sense.

Instead we have The Harper Party trying to appease the oil companies by reducing environmental rules and making life easier for them while at the same time sitting on their hands about a Canadian oil company with holdings in the Gulf of Mexico being bought by a Chinese state owned company which if nothing else will annoy our largest trading partner to the south.

The onus should be on the oil companies and the pipelines to act responsibly.  We know that the oil will flow, it should be the responsibility of the Federal and Provincial governments to ensure that the oil companies do it properly and with the least harm to the environment and to the peoples in the regions affected.

But that would be a bit much to ask of the Harper crew, wouldn’t it?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Some Musings on the Recent Spate of Gun Crimes

By now just about everyone has heard about the tragedy in Colorado, where an armed man opened fire in a movie theatre killing 12 and wounding 58 more. 

You may have heard about the men in Barrie, living in a house that was filled with bombs and booby traps as well as 29 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

And then there is the recent spate of shootings in Toronto.  Four deaths and over 20 wounded as a result of these shootings.

What is going on?  What can be done to stop the insanity?

Mayor Ford of Toronto wants to kick the bad guys out of Toronto.  Nice plan, well thought out.  Just in case you missed it… that was sarcasm.

Minister Kenny Tweeted that the Harper Party is on top of this, they want to throw the bad guys out of the country.  Branding them “foreign gangsters” and extolling the Harper plan to toss undesirables out of the country when they commit a crime.

Shall we start with 75 years old William Feldhoff?  He’s the fellow that owns the house in Barrie where they found the bombs, booby traps and weapons.  I don’t know about his son Donald, who confessed to the 30 year old murder.  He was probably born here, so I guess we’d be stuck with him.

I’ve avoided mentioning the Colorado case, because unlike the other two, his firearms were legally purchased.  Before he entered the theatre and started shooting, James Holmes was likely not a criminal.  He was able to buy 4 guns in two months, so I’m willing to guess there was some kind of background check to ensure he didn’t have a criminal history.

If this article seems a bit disjointed, it is because I am a bit disjointed today.

We have criminals with guns running loose in Toronto but if the truth be told, there are many cities in the USA who would love to have the same gun crime stats as Toronto.

The Harper Party thinks that threats of deportation or longer sentences in prison will deter them.  I beg to differ.  If 25 years is not enough to make you put your gun away, 125 years isn’t going to do it either.  Here is a newsflash for the Harperites and their echo boxes… No one who commits a crime, any crime from stealing a pack of gum to gunning down a rival gang member to whatever the worst you can think of is, does it thinking I’m going to get caught. 

Laws only stop the good people from doing bad things.

Case in point, it is illegal to belong to a criminal gang in Canada.  Has gang violence dropped?  Are there fewer gang members now?  Since the police want more power to deal with gangs, I’ll assume that it has not.

In Barrie, we have a fellow who murdered someone 30 years ago and his father who helped him avoid arrest.  It doesn’t seem that they did anything to draw attention to themselves for all this time, but when the son confessed and the police investigated they found a stockpile of weapons at the father’s home.

We have laws about this.  They didn’t help much did they?

And that brings us to the Colorado shootings.

They like to tell us that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them.  James Holmes was not an outlaw.  His guns, his ammunition, his high capacity magazines were all legally purchased.  He wasn’t a criminal until he opened the fire exit at the theatre and then he was only sneaking into a movie…

So what is the common thread?  I don’t know.  I don’t think there is one.

Dead end youths in gangs, a father who protected his son from the police while creating a terrifying arsenal of weapons, a former University student who bought some guns and snuck into a movie.

I’m going to guess, we have some broken people out there. 

There is no easy solution, if there was one, we’d be using it right now.

It seems to me, that these people have been pushed or otherwise found themselves to be outside of the mainstream.  Maybe we need to find a way to get them back into “normal” society.  Better yet, include them into “normal” society before they get left out.

Will that cure all evil?  I doubt that very much.  But if the only people who seem to be succeeding in your neighbourhood are gangsters then what are your options for success? 

Maybe we could guarantee a decent living wage for everyone who works.  And making sure there are jobs available for those who want them.

I’ve touched on this before.  If I have nothing to lose by committing a crime, there is no deterrent.  If I am making a living at my job and doing okay, maybe I won’t commit a crime and risk losing all that I have earned.

Being a wage earner needs to be a respectable title again.

How be we give everyone who has the marks the ability to go to college or university?  Free tuition for those who make the grades.

Let’s remove qualifier #1.  If you have the grades, if you can get accepted to the university you should be able to go.

That might help at risk youth to stick to their books. 

We need to be able to better identify and help people with mental health issues.  Maybe this would have helped in Barrie, it might have helped in Colorado.

And we need to have our friends to the south look seriously at their gun laws.  I don’t expect them to register everything or change gun ownership from a right to a privilege.  I’m not dictating to the USA here, I’m just asking for some thought is all. There cannot be a good reason for anyone to be able to have large capacity magazines for their weapons.

If you’ve read my previous items, you’ll know I am pro-registry.  No apologies there.  But if anyone can point out a better method of making sure that legal firearms stay legal I’m open to suggestions.  While I’m at it, maybe someone can explain why you need to have a permit to buy a weapon in Canada, you need to have a permit to purchase ammunition, but you can walk around with live ammunition in your pocket no problem.  Wouldn’t it be sensible to need your permit to carry ammunition?

Look, I don’t have all the answers.  If I did, I’d be King… or at least a Senator... a real one… not one of those Harper 8 year ones…

But it is painfully obvious, if we keep going the direction we’re going it is going to get worse.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stephen Harper is Scared of Bob Rae

Remember those attack ads?  The Harper Party ads about Bob Rae?

There were 101 theories about why the Harper Party would go after the interim leader of the Liberals.  Was it to poison the Liberals who had vowed to fight attack ads against their Leader by making them decide if they could afford to protect a stop gap leader?  Was it to distract the people from what was going on in Ottawa at the time?  Or was it to try and make sure that it would be almost impossible for Bob Rae to attempt to be the elected leader of the Liberal Party of Canada?

I’m thinking it might be number three.

Recently, well for a while now, the Harper Party has been pushing to have a pipeline shoved through B.C.’s back door to provide Alberta Bitumen (rather than oil or tar sands production) access to China.  This of course was plan “B” after the big pipeline to Texas appeared to die a political death.

The NDP on the other hand opposed the pipelines in both directions and for the most part are opposing the development of the bitumen deposits in northern Alberta.

And in wanders Bob Rae.  Its Stampede time in Calgary and Bob looks to the left and sees Tom Mulcair shaking his fist and preaching the evils of pipelines and Tar Sands development.  Bob looks to his right and sees Steve Harper waving his hands in the air preaching Oil Sands development and the need for more economic freedom by running a pipeline through B.C. so it can be sold to the Chinese.

Now Bob Rae looks back and forth a couple of times and sees how far apart these two fellows have moved.  They are polarizing the debate and Bob sees something the other two are missing.  There are a whole bunch of people in the middle and they’re not really buying what the other guys are selling.

So Bob steps up and does the unthinkable.  He starts to make sense.

Standing in Alberta where he knows he doesn’t have a lot of support, Bob starts talking about the Oil Sands.

Basically he tells people that the Oil Sands are going to be developed, we all know that, and it will be up to the governments of Alberta and Canada to decide how that development takes place.  Bob says that the development needs to be of value to Alberta and Canada and that it needs to be done properly so that there is no hangover left for the descendants of Albertans and Canadians in general to clean up.  He even goes as far as to applaud the oil companies that are trying to restore the region to its natural state after they are through.

He’s carving out the middle ground for his party and doing it in Alberta.

Bob Rae has been watching, he’s seen the collapse of WildRose and the hopes of the Harper Party to have their provincial equivalent ruling in Alberta.  He’s seen the people of Alberta return to the more moderate Conservatism of the PC Party and he’s betting that at least some of them are closer to the Liberal Party stance than that of the Harper Party.

Does he expect to carry Alberta in the next Federal Election?  I seriously doubt that.  He’s talking to the rest of Canada as well.  And a lot of Canadians aren’t too fond of the pipeline and the gutting of environmental policy to appease big oil but that also think that the deposits in Alberta will be developed anyway.  Kind of like me.  Kind of like Peter Lougheed who thinks Albertans should be processing the bitumen into oil and oil products and not the Chinese or the Texans and I agree with him on that as well.

I really think it is a shame that Bob Rae likely will never get the chance to be in the Leaders Debate at election time.  I think he’d mop the floor with Harper.  He’s an extraordinarily smart man and a very canny politician.  Unfortunately he has a lot of baggage from his Premiership in Ontario, most of it undeserved.

Premier Bob Rae managed to steer Ontario through a recession with virtually no help from his Federal counterparts and left Ontario is rather good shape at the end.  Unfortunately he lost his popularity in doing it.

Harper, the so called Master Strategist missed the mark trying to push Bob Rae around.  He didn’t realize that Bob cares more for his Country and his Party than Harper ever will.

Bob Rae is still fighting a good fight and when he hands the Liberal Party of Canada over to the next leader, he will have done his utmost to make sure the party is capable of taking back the middle ground and going from being an also ran to being a serious contender in the next election.

I hope the Liberal Party will respect his efforts and continue to build towards their future.


 I am not currently nor have I ever been a member of the Liberal Party or any other Political Party for that matter.

Although I tend to favour some parties over others, I still maintain that the elected member for my riding should be my representative in Ottawa and not his or her party’s representative in the riding regardless of the colour of their political flag.

I’m done disclaiming; if you would care to rant back I’d be happy to read it, besides I need new ideas from time to time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Supreme Court of Canada and the Etobicoke Election

The lawyers have had their say, the Justices listened and asked questions, and in the end the Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada decided to reserve their judgement.

I don’t blame them.  This is an important ruling and they need to be sure it is right.

From what I have read it boils down to a simple question.  Ted Opitz’s lawyer is saying that it is a simple clerical error and the election should not be overturned because a clerk didn’t record a person’s name in a book and Borys Wrzesnewskyj’s saying that the rules were not followed properly and those votes cannot stand.

Each side is arguing over the same coin by showing its two sides.

Opitz’s camp is saying that overturning the election “disenfranchises” the people who voted properly and supported the Harper Party Candidate.  Wrzesnewskyj’s side is saying that not overturning the result “disenfranchises” those who voted for the Liberal Candidate.

And both arguments are based on the clerks not recording the information properly.  Funny old world isn’t it?

My take is that as long as there are more disputed votes than the number of votes separating the two candidates, we need a new vote.

There were 79 votes disqualified, 52 were due to the fact that the original Judge could not determine whether they were registered to vote or not.  Of those 52, Elections Canada has determined 44 were registered.  That leaves 8.  Add those 8 to the 27 disallowed for other reasons and we are still over the 26 vote difference.

What does that mean to me?  That the representative for the 100,000+ people in that constituency, 52,000+ who voted, is decided by the 35 voters that may or may not be eligible to vote in Etobicoke.

The question becomes is Ted Opitz an MP or do we need to vote again?

We need to vote again.

We sent our Forces to Afghanistan to fight oppression and to give the Afghan people the ability to vote in free and fair elections.

One Hundred and Fifty of our Forces came home in coffins.

Anything less than a new vote is an insult to their memory.

Anything less is a slap in the face of all those who served over there.

We cannot reach into the ballot box and remove the ineligible votes.  The secret ballot is a linchpin in our Democracy, the only other option is to vote again and get it right.

Frankly I’m saddened by the fact that the Harper Party chose this path, rather than respect the court’s decision and just call a byelection.

I would suggest that the Harper Party, rather than chasing this rabbit, they should show Canadians that they are serious about elections.  I think they should propose a law that punishes those who interfere with the right of others to vote.  Further, any Party that condones these actions should be stripped of Official Party Status and their bankroll should be deposited into the General Revenue of Canada and that any tax refunds for donations to that party be disqualified.

Maybe that would encourage everyone to do the right thing, and make sure their people are doing the right thing as well.  Poutine anyone?

Elections Canada needs to clean up their act.  I realize that these EC officials (Poll Clerks) are only hired for one day every four years or so but they need to know how to do their job.  Each party is allowed scrutineers at the polls as well.  They should be taught so that if they see something like this occurring that it is addressed then and not months later.  They need to know the rules just as much as the EC officials.

Until then, we can only wait and see what the Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada decide.

I hope it is a decision we can live with, because we will have to.