Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy By-Election Canada Day!

Today (June 30th) like many people I’m celebrating my Canada Holiday by sitting at home and enjoying a day off. 

Where I work, it was a mutual decision between the employer and the workers to have a 3 day weekend rather than have everyone show up for Monday and then take Tuesday off.  It’s a win-win case.  The workers have a long weekend, and it makes it far easier for the employer to schedule production for the week.

A lot of other people will be celebrating tomorrow, which IS Canada Day, and some lucky buggers will get a 4 day weekend out of it.

I wish.

Depending on the type of business you’re in, starting up for one day of work is a huge pain in the keister.  Shutting things down and restarting them on Wednesday eats up a chunk of productive time and the boss would rather not do that… and a three day weekend is nice.

So what kind of idiot would schedule anything important on June 30th? 

Well Steve Harper for one.  4 by-elections are slated for today.

You have to wonder how many people will bother to show up to vote today, what with Canada Day being a semi fixed holiday so some people get the 30th, some get the 1st, and not to mention that this weekend marks the more or less official start to the summer so many people will have this week (and possibly more) booked off for vacation time.  I know I did when I had the luxury of being able to book my time off.

So why schedule the by-elections for today and not last Monday for example?

I’m figuring there are two main reasons.  Number One, it guarantees low turnout at the polls and low turnout is usually a good thing for the incumbent party when it comes to elections in general and especially by-elections.  And Number Two he figures the Harper Party “get out the vote” machine will outperform the other parties’ efforts and prevent any surprises.

Now I’ve seen a fair amount of complaints that this will affect Fort McMurray more than the other ridings, but I think the people saying this don’t work in heavy industry.  Fort Mac is 24/7 and they don’t shut off for a one day holiday in the oil fields, it’s just way too expensive.

I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

But that doesn’t mean the people working in other jobs around Fort Mac may not be affected, but probably not that much more than anywhere else that has a by-election today.

I guess the bottom line is the Party that likes to claim they’re for this, that, and the other thing aren’t really all that in favour of Democracy.  At least not in Canada anyway.

Too often I keep coming back to this point.  Our Democracy is far too important to trust to a bunch of ninnies in Ottawa and yet by and large we are more than willing to let those same ninnies run roughshod over our Democracy.

If you want change, you need to do something and voting is about the simplest thing you can do to cause it to happen.  I’m willing to bet that too many people are going to be more interested in getting to the camp grounds or the cottage than to make sure their voice is heard. 

A shame isn’t it?

Well, that’s about it for me today.  I don’t get to vote today, so I’ll watch a little World Cup and get some errands done.  I’ll enjoy today as best I can since I’m back to work tomorrow.

Enjoy your Canada Day whenever it happens!  I’ll have a beer for you.

Oh, and if today is By-Election Day in your neck of the woods, get your butt out there and vote!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Stephen Harper thinks this guy wants to sell marijuana to your kids

Stephen Harper thinks this guy wants to sell marijuana to your kids.

This is a business owner, he sells tobacco products and he hopes that sometime soon he’ll be able to sell beer and spirits in his store… And Stephen Harper thinks he will sell marijuana to your kids…

He owns a business in your community, has employees, pays taxes, and he knows that to stay in business he has to obey the law.

He asks for ID when you buy tobacco products from him, if he didn’t, he would lose the ability to sell those products and could lose his business as well…

And Stephen Harper thinks he wants to sell marijuana to your kids.

The question is, what is Stephen Harper smoking?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reflections on the Ontario Election

Well another election has gone by in Ontario and we no longer live with the threat of an impending election hanging over our heads.

And we messed up the pollsters again too.

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised, I really didn’t think that anyone would be able to pull off a majority in Ontario at this time.  It’s nice when the voters surprise you, unless of course your one of those pollsters who are now scrambling to explain why their numbers were in fact, more or less, pretty accurate. (sort of)

My first thoughts are about Kathleen Wynne.

Walk softly Kathleen, you have a majority, but it is not a traditional majority.  You were granted a licence by the people of Ontario to steer the ship, you were not handed a mandate.  Rather, you were granted an opportunity to steer Ontario through the next four years by a grassroots coalition made up of all parties including unhappy NDP and PC supporters.

This election was marked by a concerted effort to prevent Tim Hudak from gaining the Premiership rather than an effort to return Kathleen Wynne to that position.  Voters reached across party lines to support the candidates best able to stop Tim Hudak, not necessarily to support you.

That said, I believe that you are probably the best choice to show a willingness to listen to what the opposition has to offer and to engage in conversation with the Members across the aisle.  Let’s hope that all parties are willing to speak out in the best interests of Ontario and willing to work together and not like what we see up Ottawa way where partisanship rules the day.

My second thoughts are for those who decided to protest the election by declining their votes.

While I’ll applaud your willingness to at least show up, which puts you head and shoulders above those who can’t be bothered to go to the polls, I still think many of you missed the boat.

If none of the candidates in your riding represent you, I can agree with declining your vote.  That said, the offerings of the parties is generally pretty wide ranging and unless you are a diehard Libertarian or Communist, there should be a party or at least a candidate that meets the majority of your needs or wishes.

Maybe I should be thanking you instead.  The people who didn’t bother to vote and those who declined their ballot amplified my vote and those of every other voter who actually cast a ballot in the election.  Only about 50% of the voters in Chatham Kent bothered to vote, that’s up from the last election, and the incumbent won with only 38% of the votes that were cast.

Don’t like the PCs?  Well by staying home or declining your vote you let someone like Rick Nicholls win with just over 19% of the support of eligible voters in Chatham Kent.  Think about it, less than 1 in 5 people in my community have decided that Rick will represent us in Toronto.  Your community is likely similar.

And finally…

In the run up to Election Day, I heard that nasty old canard “If voting could change anything, they’d make it illegal.”

In case you haven’t noticed, that’s what they’ve been working on.  The party structure has warped the Legislatures to the point where unless you are a member of a major party, you don’t get to do much more than vote.  Since then, they’ve aimed their guns at the voters…

The Election Laws that the Harper people brought in were based (in part) on the laws in use in Ontario, requiring you to provide ID to be able to vote.  We never had this before, we never had complaints of voter fraud then either.

Since then we have seen (at the federal level) a move to make it more and more difficult to vote.  For people in the mainstream, with Drivers Licences and other pieces of “good” ID, these changes aren’t too horrid, but for those outside of the mainstream, those on the fringes, they’re making it harder for them to be able to vote.

Voting is a right, and it is a right we need to defend.

When you look back at the bad places in history, where rights were denied, where evil took over the governments, they didn’t make a huge change all at once.  They just make little snips, here and there in places that people really don’t seem to care about.

The homeless, the impoverished, we don’t really care about them so it’s OK that they don’t get to vote.  The young?  They never voted anyways.

I mentioned that we elected a man with less than 20% of the eligible vote.  If that plays out across the board, then it is entirely possible that only 20% across the province selected the crew that will sit in Toronto, and if we keep going the way we are going, Ottawa will be the same.

Do you really expect that people who get in on 1/5th of the available vote actually care what you think?  Our wonderful rep blames the unions for stopping Hudak from imposing his will on Ontario.  I’m sure he’ll be very happy to help me, a trade unionist with any issues I might have.

If we really want them to pay attention, we have to make the first move.  We need to take the reins and show up and vote.  It only takes a few minutes to read a couple of newspapers in the real world or the Internet to see what the parties are standing for, enough that you can make a half way informed decision on who to vote for.  If we start to show up on Election Day, maybe they’ll show up the rest of the time?

I don’t know how true it is, but I have been told more than once that if you go to your elected member’s office for help, they check the list to see if you voted.  Keeping a voter happy may gain them a vote, a non-voter gets shuffled down the pile.  Why should they care about a non-voter?  If they didn’t vote last time, they probably won’t vote next time…

If there are a lot of dancers on the floor, the band plays what the people want.  If no one dances, the band plays what they want instead.  Politics is like that too.

That’s about it, for now…

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Should You Decline Your Ballot?

I'm really late with this one.

If you really cannot bring yourself to vote for one of the candidates tomorrow, declining your ballot is a possibility. It certainly beats staying at home and not bothering to vote.


If you really think you're going to send anyone a message by declining your vote, you're not protesting, you're letting people like me who will be voting make the choice for you.

Simply put, how many declined ballots were there in the last election? Did anyone post the numbers anywhere? Did the papers and the TV news say "Oh my, there were declined ballots!"?

As a protest, declining your ballot is about as useful as yelling at a tomato in your kitchen. No one really cares except for the tomato and it ain't telling anyone.

Think about it, and think hard, after you decline your ballot there's no going back until the next election and you'll get to live with whatever the rest of your community decides.

Vote tomorrow, it's your right.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tears in Moncton

It’s enough to make you cry.

While I’m writing this, Police in Dartmouth are responding to reports of a man with a gun, people in Moncton are mourning the murder of three Police Officers, and the idiots are running around the Internet.

The people of Moncton and the rest of Canada were only just beginning to realize what had happened in Moncton when the National Firearms Association (NFA) made their crazy statement.

Canada's excessive firearms control system has failed again

The NFA may believe this to be true, but to make such a statement the day after the murder of three RCMP Officers, before an arrest was even made just boggles the mind.  If they had merely made a statement deploring the shootings, which was part of their original statement and stopped right there, I wouldn’t be mentioning them at all.

NFA, if you don’t like bad press, stop acting like idiots.

The NFA did say that they were responding to the gun critics on Twitter.   For Pete’s sake! It’s Twitter, give them a couple of hours and they’ll be howling about something else.  They always do, except for the handful that has been trolling on both sides of the gun control issue here for years, and they’ll never go away.

There will be another set of arguments about gun control in Canada because of this, but now is not the time.  Now is the time to think about the three families that have someone who is never coming home again.

I’m glad they arrested the guy, and I’m glad they got him alive.

Now we at least have a chance to find out the truth about what really happened.  Why someone would decide to do what he did. How he was able to do it.

There is plenty of speculation on the Internet and in the Media about the accused killer.  Is he crazy?  Were his weapons illegal?  Is there a way to stop this from happening again?

There are lots of questions and very few answers at this point.

I hope the trial will allow us to see some of the answers.  I really hope he’s found fit to stand trial.

And on top of all the gun lobbyists ranting on both the pro and con side of that Internet coin, we’ve got the pro and anti Police crews out as well.

I’ll cut to the chase, yes there are bad cops out there, people who should never have been allowed into law enforcement at all, but there are a lot more good cops that you’ll never hear about.  Let’s face it, when something happens in your neighbourhood, who are the first people that you call, and who are the first ones to show up?  Yep, the Police.

Finally, there are the reborn arguments on Capital Punishment.

I’m pretty clear on that one, I don’t support it and don’t think I ever will.  In this particular case, I’d rather see the sentences carried out consecutively… 25 years for each of the murders of the RCMP Officers, and 25 years for each of the attempted murders of the two Officers wounded in the attacks.

Let him sit in prison for 125 years, and then his family can come for his bones, that is if they want them.

That’s it for me