Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rainy Saturday in Vancouver

I've had quite the adventure over the last 2 1/2 hours in the cold rainy Saturday that will typify winter here in Vancouver.

I attended the Rally for Canada at Library Square. Only half of the speakers were MPs, I was rather impressed. The most rousing speech came from an average citizen. One of those young, formerly disengaged, Facebook types. He started a group that now has 15,000 members opposed to the Liberal-NDP (propped up by the Bloq) coalition. The best moment came from a member of the Korean-Canadian community. She used the term "Jack and Gilles".... Jack and Jill... get it? Funny. Anyway...

There were a good number of people out, even in what one would call the worst weather Vancouver gets. Leaving the square, I got a pamphlet in support of BC-STV, the proposed single transferable vote system that some in BC want to implement, instead of the traditional first past the post (FPTP). An interesting concept that would see multiple MLAs (they are like MPPs), hopefully of different political parties, representing each riding. So you could approach any, or all, with your concerns. It would of course aid the Green Party most, but would give people the comfort to approach someone who is at least affiliated with the same political stripes as themselves. Check out: stv.ca

On my way home, I ran into Hedy Fry, MP for Vancouver Centre, while shopping at The Bay. I had about a 10 minute discussion with her. Nothing new, really. But she was willing to talk for quite a while. Mostly lecture. But what I did get from my chat with her was that the Coalition is now more of a tool to be used in their negotiations on the upcoming budget and stimulus package. But if Harper isn't willing to play ball with them (which remains to be seen, either way), she claims they are still willing to pull the plug. Time will tell.

Finally, I got another little ad about DreamBank. Their slogan: "Give Dreams. Not Stuff" is catchy. But it's not much of a site. It's like a wedding registry, but for Christmas. Boo'urns.

It's not even 3pm... I feel so accomplished for today. Time to relax and watch some hockey.

Divisions

The whole unity issue is starting to surface again, due to this latest political crisis. Quebec separatism mysteriously received a boost, when Charest sided with the Coalition and derided Harper's comments about making a deal with the separatists.

Charest, you have fallen far my friend.

Western alienation is also starting to reach a furor. Just read the Western Standard.

As for Atlantic Canada.... they're feeling a bit left out. This is the best quote that I've heard, from a commentor on the CTV website:

Shayne
What about Atlantic Canadians or do we matter?

Maybe Tommy Douglas was right. Canada is like a cow. The West feeds, Ontario and Quebec milk it and we all know about happens in the Maritimes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tale of the Tape

I implore you. Find the video of the two National Addresses from last night. Mr. Harper came off Prime Ministerial. Mr Dion, PM-in-hiding, came across like a high school student council president putting up a video on youtube. CBC, CTV and The Star each have links to the videos on their websites.

In other, mathematically related news, the Liberals clearly CAN NOT control this coalition. The separatists and socialists have MORE VOTES than they do. I believe the numbers come down to 86 - 75.

That, and 74% of Canadians voted AGAINST Dion's leadership.

Simply stated, this coalition is a disaster in the making.

The GG's decision to prorogue government at the request of PM Harper is good news for the LPC. If the coalition had taken over today (or whenever the non-confidence motion was to be voted on), it would surely have collapsed by spring-time, and most pundits are willing to guarantee that the Conservatives would win a clear majority in that scenario. As it stands, if the coalition falls apart before the budget is presented to Parliament (which is at the end of January, more importantly AFTER President-elect Obama's economic stimulus is announced) only Dion is likely to lose face, and not the entire party.

In the end, I'm still hoping to attend the Liberal Leadership Convention in May. It's going to be an exciting time!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Say What?!?! A long discussion on the foreseeable political future

The most exciting moments in Canadian politics in my lifetime...

This past weekend has been the cold shower that I needed to get back into Canadian politics. My initial reaction to the whole mess: Shock. Disbelief. Curiosity.

No need to go over the gory details of what have happened to lead up to the upcoming coalition government of the Liberals, NDP and Bloq. If you have the opportunity, listen to what Rex Murphy had to say in Monday night's piece on The National. I'll include a few of his points in my discussion.

Most importantly, yes, this is all a partisan game. For both sides. Anyone who denies this fact is either lying or kidding themselves.

Stephen Harper saw an opportunity to further decimate the organization of the LPC. The merits of public financing of political parties aside, his move was simply an attempt to further weaken the Liberal Party, perhaps to the brink of existence. He was, simply, completing his mission as Leader of the CPC. Which brings me to my subpoint, on his continued leadership of the CPC.

I believe that Stephen Harper has run his course as Leader of the Conservative Party. He has done many great things for the party, most notably being his efforts in bringing together the remains of the former PC party. He was instrumental in returning the right-of-centre ideologies to the forefront of the national consciousness. He has also succeeded in taming the far-right ideologues that threatened to take over the combined party in its infancy (although some of these people have found homes online). His mandate as leader has always been to bring the Tory voice back to the prominence it had enjoyed in the early part of Canadian history. He may not have delivered a majority government, but he has placed the party in a position where it is capable of virtually anything in the immediate future. Every party requires new blood and new ideas, especially coming out of a transformation like the one the CPC has undergone. Now appears to be the time.

Back to the main point about this being a partisan game. No, the Liberals did not make this move to try to fix the economy because this fiscal update does nothing to fix the current economic problems that Canada is facing. They simply did not want to lose their funding. They currently have very little grassroots fundraising support, which is a sign of a stagnant base. They would not have been able to mount anything close to a decent campaign next time around without the additional funding. This might have impacted them for a generation to come. This is the scenario that the LPC is so desparate to avoid. This coalition ploy is just that, a partisan attempt to keep the party alive. It has nothing to do with the economy.

The NDP on the other hand have no reasonable excuse to join the coalition, other than power. The NDP now has the power (for the 2nd straight government) to push pieces of their agenda. This should be a scary proposition for the average working Canadian (who the NDP love to talk about all the time). Their positions on the economy are based in some fanciful world where government income does not come from the very people they claim to be so worried about. Once again, their participation in the coalition is simply to appear to be a useful political party, and become part of the Cabinet.

The Bloq. What can I say? The very Separatists that want to tear this country asunder. Having a formal arrangement with them is troubling. All the conjecture and insinuations can be found elsewhere (deal with the devil, etc), but my point about them will be about the ideological bankruptcy of their party. Yes, they too need the funding, but WHY DO THEY STILL EXIST? Everything that they have done over the past 3 or 4 years goes to show the futility of their efforts. Not only did Harper one up them with the recognition of the uniqueness of the Quebec peoples (who will argue that?), but now they have signed a deal with the very man who crafted the Clarity Act. Dion is the enemy of the sovereignty movement. The Clarity Act is one of their most hated pieces of legislation. And yet here they are, handing him the keys of power. If you really believed in the sovereignty of the Quebec nation, why would you be in bed with the man who made it virtually impossible for you to separate?

Well... a lot said there. (Maybe not, I dont know) The bottom line I think is this: Yes, they can do what they want, it is within their constitutional rights. Should they? As their initial response to the funding measures, yes. Now that the offending piece of the bill has been removed, probably not. But it is too late to back down from their stated intent. What we are witnessing is one of the grandest moments in Canadian political history. Not the prettiest moment, but they will definitely be teaching this one in Gr. 10 history for generations to come.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Election Hangover

It feels like forever since my last post. But I've simply got post-election hangover. I'm just trying to get some of the partisan lines out of my system, and back to reality. Salut Mr Dion.

Also having some fun watching American politics play out over the last little while. Thank God I don't have CNN, or else I would be vomiting from my incessant watching of it. Simply put, Mr. Obama is going to win. A "victory" for race relations, as some would say, but I think it's purely farcical to claim the point. If it's a victory, it still means that race matters. Which should be the final goal.

Trying to find the comments I read somewhere about even Obama being further to the right on most issues than the current Conservative party. Very funny, but it does reveal the historical shift that occurred over the last half-century in both countries.

Anyway, when I get back to posting regularly, it'll be a little bit more on my recent move to Vancouver, and the job I have started at Peter Kiewit Sons Co.
Who knows where the Canadian dollar will have been by then.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

End the Social Experiment

I've finally discovered the source of my discomfort with the current political landscape of our great nation. It is partly based in my recent readings on "negative liberty"and my long held belief in laissez-faire everything. It also explains my affinity to Libertarian thinking. [Honestly, I hate citing wikipedia, but it does have a pretty succinct discussion on most of these topics]. For those of you that know me very well, it also shows in my very pessimistic, but what I call REALISTIC, outlook on life.

We live in a world full of social experiments. They even form the basis of what we call "Canadian."

Programs such as our education system. Our health care system. Our social housing system.

These are all social experiments, designed to give everyone a government mandated education, a government mandated health and a place to live.

The end result, however, is quite disappointing. Look at the youth of my generation. In the western world, these programs have created the most willfully uneducated, self-serving, entitled, mistrusting and violent generation in the history of mankind. Why is violent crime skyrocketing in our urban centers? Because parents expect children to get the necessary education from the schooling system. What ever happened to the responsibility of raising your own child? Some advocacy group (read: unions that will get more members) now want a nationalized daycare program. That sounds like a great idea!!! [that's as sarcastic as I can get folks] Let's take even the earliest development of our children and put in the hands of bureaucrats.

The governmental system has several baseline inefficiencies that it CANNOT fix. It's in the very nature of the system. Too much oversight. And you can't take that oversight away, because that results in corruption. So let's not add more government programs.

The question that you are now clamouring to ask is this: what about the less fortunate that can't afford these programs otherwise?

My solution: Why not leave it to the not-for-profit agencies?
They used to run these systems before the government became so involved. Hospitals run by nuns. Schools run by priests. Soup kitchens, support groups, social housing, all run and administered by local groups and agencies. [No need to worry about abusive possibilities, we live in a world where predators can no longer get away with such behaviour.]

If you tell me that things are ok now, please: stop. Take a look around you. Is our health care system working? NO! We drop more and more, billions and billions of dollars, with no appreciable difference in the quality of care received. We expand the education system, and still see more and more children... yes, CHILDREN... in gangs. We provide more and more welfare, and see our workforce continue to shrink, as more people instead sit on their hands and wait for government handouts.

This is not the Canada that I want to grow up in, the kind of Canada that I wish to leave my children. I don't know where to start to affect this change, but I do believe in the power of the individual, and the collective, but not in the government. YES, WE CAN do better [sorry Barack].

Our Economy is Fine!

A quick lunch-break post. Mr. Dion and Mr. Layton continue their fear-mongering about the economy. Yes, the stock market is down. But that's just artificial money! First off, the Canadian markets are only 50% economy based. The other half is driven by changing commodity prices. It is no coincidence that our markets fell when all of the commodity prices bottomed out last week, NOT perfectly in step with the US markets.

Regardless, don't take my word for it. Listen to the IMF.


Canada will skirt recession:

The International Monetary Fund, meanwhile, projected that Canada next year
will have the fastest growing economy of the G7 major industrial countries, at
1.2 per cent, despite virtually no growth of just 0.1 per cent in the U.S.,
Canada's main export market.



Full article here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hell hath frozen over

The Toronto Star just published a story that.... Aghast!.... doesn't take a single cheap shot at the Prime Minister. Ok, one small one about election timing, but I'll make a post about that tomorrow.



After the debate, the math is still on Harper side

Oct 02, 2008 11:26 PM
James Travers

OTTAWA – Two nights of debate and another day of market turmoil are turning an election about the economy and St├ęphane Dion into one that's still about the economy but also about Stephen Harper. For the first time since he prematurely killed the last Parliament, partly to avoid campaigning in hard times, the Prime Minister and his fiscal policies are emerging as ballot questions.

Four-against-one debates with the economy as the focus are driving that change. So, too, is the Liberal leader's belated shift from the environmental "e", his personal passion, to the economic "e", the national preoccupation.

...

While watched across the country, the first debate was primarily a battle for Quebec with Harper and Gilles Duceppe the principal combatants. The second was loaded with broader implications and higher stakes – a possible Conservative majority and the determined NDP run at the Liberals for second place.

Tonight those two struggles centred on the economy and Harper's claim that Canada's fundamentals are so strong that the safe course is to stay the Conservative course. As he has done since the campaign began, Layton chipped at that proposition, effectively recasting extraordinary economic events as kitchen table concerns. Dion's attacks are more abstract but effective enough to force Harper to pre-emptively distance his policies from the laissez-faire U.S. mess blamed, a little unfairly, on George W. Bush. [Note from Glen: Emphasis added. And don't take this to mean that I don't blame Bush]

...

Ganging four against one is good way to win a debate...Harper knows this, just as he knows that being pounded in the debates won't crack his core support.

What's less certain is how undecided voters will react to the cumulative opposition criticism and their own rising financial fears. However they ultimately cast their ballots, the Prime Minister and his policies are now an election issue and that is as it should be.

Golly. Ok, I realize I took the "math" part out. It basically says that the Left is split, which is going to result in a stronger minority (most likely). Maybe the Left should coalesce. With Layton as PM.... right.... hell hath indeed frozen over.

Please refer to Capital One tv ad.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Moving to Vancouver

"So many fail because they don't get started - they don't go. They don't overcome inertia. They don't begin." - W. Clement Stone

Sadly, today marks my last day as a permanent resident of Ontario. Tomorrow morning I will complete the most momentous change in my short life as I board a plane to Vancouver to start my career with Kiewit. Although this stems directly from another momentous change (making the switch from Chem. Eng to Civil), this definitely dwarfs all other decisions that I have made.

I don't want to dwell too much on my reasoning, as they are too many; most are personal and a few are professional. What I do want to highlight is the gratitude that I have for the many people, most of whom I call friends, that have influenced me, hung out with me, and guided me along the way. Having spent the weekend in Kingston for Queen's Homecoming, I got to see many of my Civil'08, Queen's and SMC friends. There are so many people that I know I will be staying in contact with. I used to think that I had very few close friends, but the bonds that we have cultivated and the resulting outpouring of emotion this weekend has proven otherwise.

I will truly miss Mississauga, Kingston, and the Greater Toronto area. They will always be home. And I expect to be back permanently, be it sooner or later.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wasting Political Efforts

First Jack Layton said he wanted to be Prime Minister of a coalition government.
Now Lizzy May wants voters to vote strategically.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF RUNNING A CAMPAIGN?

This really perplexes me. These leaders are really taking the wind out of their own sails! I anticipated the Green Party receiving around 10% of the popular vote. But what her recent statement does is cheapen the efforts of her supporters on the ground. As a campaign volunteer for my local Conservative candidate, Bob Dechert, I know how much the leader's visits and messages have an impact on my own efforts. Her grassroots volunteers probably woke up today, looked at that headline, and asked themselves: Why am I doing this then? What is the point of all of that door-knocking, phone-calling, sign-posting? This goes against what was said last year, claiming that a Green vote isn't a wasted vote.

Even the former president of the Liberal Party of Canada says that the Liberals are going to "take a drubbing." This can't be a good feeling for the Liberal volunteers on the ground. They are wearing out their shoes and told their efforts will be for nought.

As for the prospects of a left-wing coalition government.... wow. Canada would be in serious trouble. It would be a spend-first tax-next government. I can't afford that right now. Neither can our economy, which they all claim to be worried about.

UPDATE: Even Warren Kinsella can see the upcoming troubles for the Liberals.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mark Zomberg does not exist

Zuckerberg.... Zomberg... I guess it sounds kinda the same.

At last count 1,035,789 people were stupid enough to join a group claiming that if 10 million joined, this fictional character would reverse the recent changes made to Facebook.

Kinda sounds like the old "FWD this email so hotmail stays free!" chain mail of years past. Every single day this stupid group pops up into my news feed, telling me that 4 or 5 friends have joined this group. Jeez people... there's a reason that this group does not have any content.

Polls CAN tell the truth: Breaking stereotypes

Yesterday I had a conversation with a few other Conservative supporters in my riding. We got to talking about the image problem that the Conservative Party has historically had, and how we all broke the stereotypical mould.

A black conservative? Shock and awe!
An immigrant conservative? Bewilderment!
A professional woman conservative? Unheardof!
A gay conservative? Unfathomable!
A lower-income conservative? Unbelievable!

From today's Daily Tracking numbers from EKOS:
1. [The] front-running Conservatives ... appeal now cuts across economic classes.

Contrary to the conventional picture of the Conservatives as the party of the better-off, they are almost completely uniform across income groups in terms of their support. In other words, whether you are making less than $40,000 a year or more than $80,000, your likelihood of voting Conservative is almost exactly the same.

2. In contrast, the Liberals ... now skew clearly towards wealthier voters.

3. The Conservatives are winning every age category, from youngest to oldest.
I am glad to finally see people accepting the message from the Conservative Party at face value, instead of believing what the mainstream media would have you believe about their ideals.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Green Shift no more?

Dion: The Green Shift is not a major part of the Liberals election platform.

WHHHAAAATTTTTT?!?
TO Star

I've always found the joke about Liberals flip-flopping to be funny, but this.... beyond the pale.
Mr. Dion has been touring the country since WINTER! trying to convince people that the Green Shift is a good idea. Now you are campaigning with nothing, nada, bupkis. The plan was unpopular at best, yes, but at least stick to your mores, and go down with the sinking ship. I think it is he, Dion, with the not-so-hidden hidden agenda.

So I guess that it is now upto Elizabeth May of the Green Party to continue stumping for the Green Shift. She claims that it's her idea anyways.

Update: Oh! That was the sound of the flop-back. The Shift is back on... but not as an important part of their campaign.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

wtf Political Correctness

Many disturbing stories from this past weekend. I really hate this culture of political correctness that is being imposed. It is destroying free speech. It is also now destroying careers, thanks to the Human Rights Tribunal. Staying abreast of current political correctness is now a full time occupation.

Couple of interesting headlines to start

Doctor deemed racist for 'liking visible minorities', $4000 fine


UN Calls Canada Racist for 'visible minorities' tag.


I really hate labels to begin with. But seriously... Can you please tell me: What is the politically correct way to describe me these days?


I've also come to hate blogs... am I a hypocrite for keeping one, even though no one reads it? I'll hopefully have some time to pen my reactions to Chris Reid's resignation as Conservative candidate, simply for believing in personal liberty.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Politics and the General Public: Policy, Promises and the Unintelligible

Wow, am I about to make a non-partisan post? We'll see...

After watching CBCs "Your Turn 2008" campaign programme today, I think I understand the problem with government (Note: I said government, NOT politics) in North America, and especially in Canada. This may be an oversimplification of the sources of the problem, but bear with me.

It all starts with Voter Apathy.

Voters stop caring because they see all of the politics. That's all of the posturing, the partisan hackery and mockery. They see all of the broken promises made.
New voters dont start caring because they see the above. But more importantly, they do not understand the underlying principals behind the promises made (then broken).

Why are the promises made in the first place?
Because the political parties do not have policy that is easily interpreted by the general public. The possible reasons are many: the policy is too difficult to understand, the policy is deliberately convoluted, it might even be that the general public is too stupid to understand the policy. But the bottom line is this, that the political parties cannot let their policy documents stand on their own as living, breathing documents.

So the political parties make "policy decisions" which are expressed as (mostly) spending promises and tax cuts (or increases). The details of these expressions are based on the current realities, or the anticipated reality of the (hopefully) foreseeable future. But it's all fiction and conjecture really. And once you get into power (or opposition), the reality is usually different. So your policy gets expressed in terms of a different revenue stream or expenditure.

Ok... all that to just say this: Party policy is just too friggin complicated to understand. That's it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trading Votes

Would you really trade your vote to someone across the country to keep a certain party from getting a majority? This has popped up in the last day or so here in Canada. And I find it very troubling, but I will need to spend a couple of days doing some more research and thinking to really put my finger on it.

Yes, it shows dissatisfaction with the current system. I'll be the first to say that our system sucks. But please do note that the Conservatives are the only party that has supported electoral reform.

I'll be reading the Canada Elections Act, along with decisions made by the courts in the UK and US on similar practises.

A quick quote from the US decision:
"they amounted to efforts by politically engaged people to support their preferred candidates and to avoid election results that they feared would contravene the preferences of a majority of voters in closely contested states" [emphasis added]

This does not apply to the Canadian political arena because you are no longer voting for your preferred candidate, but for the party. Which, theoretically, you aren't voting for. As for the majority of voters part, that too does not apply, because there has never been an instance in Canada where the party with the most votes hasn't formed government. Yet.

Green Party Leader Liz May: Canadians Are Stupid

Why the Green Party will not elect a single member to the Parliament this election

Reason:
Question: "Why are Canadians scared of a Carbon Tax?"
Liz May: "I think Canadians are stupid."

Sorry Lizzy, you just lost everything that you had built up over the last 2 years.

The Changing Face of the Ontario Economy

In Response to Toronto Star Article: Harper won't guarantee Ontario jobs

This simply goes beyond politics. No amount of political posturing is going to change our economy's present troubles.

Face the facts. Our economy is changing. We can no longer rely on the manufacturing industry, for one simply reason: the cost of labour. We can no longer use the cheap dollar as a crutch in helping our exporters; we had an opportunity to improve efficiencies in the late 90s, slept on that, and now we are paying the consequences.

The bottom line: You aren't going to keep your jobs CAWs. Because you get paid $70/hr in an unskilled position.

The Future: Ontario must start to reshape itself as a place for skilled workers, especially in the areas of innovation. I may be on the other side of the political spectrum as McGuinty, but I will give him due in this area. Premier McGuinty has himself realized the importance of innovation in securing Ontario's place in the emerging global markets. Check out the work that he has done as Minister of Innovation, and the work being done by the newly reorganized Ontario Centres of Excellence. (www.oce-ontario.org/) This group is working to build connections between industry, research and academia, to find the next RIM or Imax.

You simply cannot guarantee jobs, as the NDP or the private unions would have you believe. You cannot bully private companies into keeping jobs in Canada. What you have to do is reshape your industries, keep your workforce current, up to the times, and WELL EDUCATED! As such, the decision to reopen a Windsor plant over the one in Oshawa was simple: The Ford facility is an engine plant, and the money is earmarked for investment in fuel-efficient technologies. That's the future.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Days of our Lives

So in the past 24 or so hours (ok, the past 29 hours), I've been all over place. Mostly around downtown Toronto. But thanks to my role at TIFF, I've had quite the day.
Yesterday I went to the Terence Blanchard concert at Yonge & Dundas Square. For any of you jazz heads out there, you know the man. Quite the cool cat, and he put on an amazing show, even in the rain. But before then, I ran into several old friends, including Geoff D. from SMC '03, Jamie M. from Queen's '07, and Danny R from SMC '03 and Queens.
Tonight I had the opportunity to stand on the stage behind the Prime Minister at a campaign stop in Mississauga. He even shook my hand on camera! This was at his announcement on Veterens Affairs, which will provide Allied soldiers with the same tax benefits as Canadian soldiers. Very big step.
I just, JUST, got back from a private concert by Metric. OMG, Emily Haines and those legs. It was quite the intimate affair, and we got some sweet photos from our spot right at the side of the stage. Awesome double set by this Canadian band. I'll try to get the photos posted on Facebook within the next couple of days.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm moving to a land of Carbon Taxes

It's official, I am moving to British Columbia.
First things first... I'm going to try to get rid of that silly carbon tax.

To make a long story short, I accepted a job in Vancouver which starts in October. More later.

Toronto Star continues to suck b@!!s

An update on the Toronto Star calling the past government productive. TODAY they decided that the Conservatives record is somehow flawed.

Harper is running on flawed record

"...Canadians have seen what kind of government he runs over the past 32 months. Of course, it was a minority government, held in check by the opposition parties."

Held in check? All that Mr. Dion did was run and hide every time the Conservatives wanted to pass a bill.
Every time something came up, all the Liberals decided that they needed to take a piss.
Every time something came up, they needed to run home and check their toasters.
Every time something came up, they needed to take their dog for a walk, instead of actually voting, as they were elected to do. At least Jack Layton and the NDP had the balls to stay in the House.

The Liberal Press Machine: The Toronto Star

This from the Toronto Star editorial, entitled: War of Words on Green Shift.

"The Conservatives are seeing red over the Green Shift.

Last week, Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion announced shifts to his Green Shift, some $900 million in concessions for sectors hit hard by the carbon tax plan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promptly lashed out at the changes as 11th hour improvisations that suggest Dion is rewriting his plan "on the back of envelopes."

...

it is hard to see his announcement last week as anything other than a legitimate political response from a responsive leader to public feedback – precisely what Dion said he was setting out to do when he road-tested the proposals over the summer."


My Opinion:

The bottom line is this: The Toronto Star's editors and "analysts" are simply a privately funded corporation acting as part of the broke Liberal election machine.

How do the announced changes (read: flip-flops) constitute a "legitimate political response"? This is simply the Liberal party pandering to whomever can shout the loudest.

What it also does is make an ill-conceived plan even more complicated. OUR TAXATION SYSTEM IS COMPLICATED ENOUGH AS IT IS! If you are going to do something, make it easier for me to hand over my hard earned dollars for you to spend in ways that do not benefit me, or the country.

Every new tax system, every new tax credit or taxation exemption makes it harder and harder for an individual to do their own taxes. Why should I have to SPEND money having someone do my tax reporting? This reduces the collective disposable income, which hurts the economy. Imagine the effect on corporations. They won't have the time or money to invest in new innovations; they'll be hiring more tax lawyers to figure out what the hell they owe to whom.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Politics and the Media

I really do hate the Toronto Star. For the entire time that the Tories have governed, they have criticized every single move that they have made. Now that it serves their purposes, they are claiming that this past parliament was "productive". This now allows them to say that the Conservatives are now calling the election for political gain. Why not "report" that this, and I quote, "has been one of the more productive and long-lasting minority governments in Canadian history"? The simple reason is thus: The Toronto Star is not interested in providing and reporting facts for the general public, they would rather force feed the masses their political spin.

Another great example is today's front page article. Click Here. I have never before seen such a blatantly partisan front page article from a major newspaper. What the Toronto Star did, in effect, was make an endorsement BEFORE the election had even been called.

My next complaint is of the CBC. Take a look at what they had to offer on the Palin baby story, a full two days after this story was debunked on the internet: Click Here. I'm not saying that they are biased (they are). I'm just saying that they're stupid. (And a slight waste of tax-payers dollars, although I love CBCSports.)

I'll definitely be posting some more thoughts as the campaigns start to ramp up, but do yourselves a favour: Read the National Post.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Identity

RIP Bernie Mac

Well, I know that this isn't breaking news anymore, but I have just now seen the memorial service held in Bernie Mac's honour (thank you youtube). And I've seen a few major funerals for entertainers on tv over the last few years (James Brown's being the most memorable), but this one was quite unique, especially since he was such a vivacious entertainer.

As one of the Original Kings of Comedy, Bernie had a very close relationship with DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Steve Harvey. The three remaining Kings each eulogized Bernie Mac, and what they said was quite touching and yet very hilarious; quite a tribute to the memory of Bernie Mac. What stuck with me is something that DL Hughley (of all people) said about identity:

The hardest thing for a black man to do is to be an individual, is to stand on your own and to say what you mean, and to not be influenced by anybody, to make your own mind up, and your own way... He stood on his own, he said what he believed.

The one thing that I've heard repeatedly about Bernie is that he was an individual. This does not only apply to black men, this applies to every single person, regardless of your race, gender or creed. The hardest thing for anyone to do is to discover, become, and accept who they are, and withstand the pressures of life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reasons Obama Can't Win

Paris Hilton for President?

Thanks to Funny or Die


Sure, it pokes more fun at McCain, but get serious. Obama has now been endorsed by Paris Hilton, Hamas, and a recently executed convicted murderer. Quite the impressive list. Being a celebrity rarely gets you elected. The only ones who it helped were Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan. But don't forget, they were both Republicans.

All jokes aside... her energy policy is actually the most sound. Who wrote her policy book? Someone hire that person. And when did we start using the term "energy policy" to describe how we are going to survive the "oil crisis". It's just as sneaky as saying "budget surplus" instead of over-taxation (it's a subtle difference with huge implications).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Travel Blog: Day 14

Has it really only been 2 weeks? It has started to feel like an eternity. A comfortable eternity. I actually just got back Victoria a couple of hours ago.

I travelled to Victoria yesterday with Kevin to commemorate BC Day on the steps of the BC Legislature. What do we call this holiday in Ontario? Simcoe Day? The Civic Holiday? Regardless, this is the 150th anniversary of BC's existence, so there was a huge celebration for the sesquicentennary (sp?). Stephen Harper was present, alongside the BC Premiere. The main impetus for going to Victoria was to see Feist, who was headlining the evening's performances. Sarah McLaughlin and Burt Cummings (The Guess Who) also played during the day.

If you were wondering, yes, Feist is eccentric, if not downright weird. Her performance was quite artsy, and not the best possible selection for this type of crowd, especially since most are only familiar with her one hit. But it was a great night, capped off by NO FIREWORKS! I simply don't understand that. You have this massive celebration on a public holiday, thousands, literally tens of thousands of people are out for this great event, and there were no fireworks. Quite the unclimactic finish to the evening, but a great show none the less.

Oh, and I got to see Devin. Woot! Going back to Victoria on Saturday morning for about 10 days.

Vancouver! Part 2

This whole time I'm staying at Jenn's apartment downtown, very close to Stanley Park. (Thanks Jenn!) The property situation here is similar, again, to Toronto's. A spate of new condos going up downtown, but more aesthetically pleasing ones, unlike the bland and unoriginal ones that keep on springing up along the rail yard in Toronto.



Thursday I walked down to Chinatown, and specifically to the Chinese Gardens. What a beautiful spot, and the guided tour was very valuable. Funny story #1: He looked, acted, and sounded like Radey Barrack. When I get the film developed, I'll post the pictures. Which leads into Funny story #2: I'm using an oldschool nondigital camera. Mainly because we (being my family) can't seem to buy decent cameras that won't break. I also explored the final two areas in the downtown core, Gastown (the "historic" district) and the West End where Jenn lives, including the Denman, Davies and English Bay areas. On Friday, I had a blast from the past for late-lunch/early-dinner with Henry, whom I havn't seen since elementary school. Exactly a decade ago!



Now Friday Night. What a crazy crazy time. It seemed like everyone was in for the weekend, and staying in Jenn's studio apartment. Tori, who was in Civil with me and will be working for Kiewit with Jenn and Cody, was staying the night with her friend. Kevin, also from Civil, was in from Victoria where he just started working. Cody also came across from West Van with his friend Josh. We started out at the Davie's street party, where they had blocked off the street for 2 huge beer tents. Once those closed down, the gents headed off to Caprice, a club on Granville, to finish off the night.



Saturday & Sunday saw another burst of activity, once I got over the hangover. Breakfast at O'Doul's, the Wine Bar/Jazz Club, a downtown stroll with Kevin, another visit to Surrey, and then to White Rock, then a trip over to Cody's in West Van filled up Saturday. Sunday was the parade, then Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium, then pub hopping to complete the night.

Vancouver! Part 1

Travel Blog: Day # I've Lost Count

Ok, so I haven't updated in ages.... Basically since I got to Vancouver over a week ago. Here goes a long update of everything that I've been upto.

Well, before I get to any details... Man, I love Vancouver. Soooo many reasons. I've thought about it for a while, and it boils down to the fact that it's a vastly diverse Canadian metropolis that isn't Toronto. It's not that I don't like TO, I love it, it's my favourite place on earth (next to Sydney). But I've gotten used to Toronto, and have been taking its many jewels for granted. There are so many events and neighbourhoods in Toronto that I simply ignore, or dont take the effort to go and experience. In a "new" city such as Vancouver, I'm inclined to go out and discover each and every neighbourhood, experience each and every festival or parade (yes I even did gay pride events).

I flew into Vancouver on Monday the 28th, and took public transit downtown. As is the case in Toronto, the Airport is nowhere near the downtown core. And there is no direct link either. I had to take 2 different buses to get to the core of the city. Unlike Toronto, Vancouver won their Olympic bid, and had serious impetus to extend the LRT system to the airport. We'll see how long it takes Toronto to do the same.

The next afternoon was spent discovering a few of the neighbourhoods around the downtown core with Cody, namely Granville Island (think markets and artisans) and Yaletown (condos and yuppies!). That night we met back up with my host Jenn and her friends for a birthday dinner at a Malaysian restaurant, before the girls headed off to a pole dancing class. Scandalous.

Wednesday was spent mostly in Surrey, visiting some family, meeting up with some "old" cousins, and meeting a "new" one. New as in I didn't know about her. She's 19, not a baby. I'm not huge on extended family, so I haven't really gone out of my way to discover the close to a hundred cousins that I have. Side note: My cousin Sabrina is what I call a "high performance vehicle." This girl is on a full ride at Stanford, doing track, and I went to her training session. Crazy stuff.

That night was the HSBC Festival of something or another at English Bay... Huge fireworks show and competition between Canada, the US, and China I believe. It was like the Benson & Hedges show that Toronto used to have. And might still have. Someone let me know if Toronto still has it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Travel Blog: Day 6

July 28

Flying out to Vancouver today (I was terribly confused on that point until yesterday... yikes).

Went to Taste of Edmonton yesterday in downtown Edmonton, and thoroughly enjoyed the public square, the food, the atmosphere, the whole cultural feeling of it all.  Even though Toronto has the Taste of the Danforth, I've never made the effort to actually go out to it.  It is events like this that make me remember that the Canadian Identity really is that great mosaic that they talk about in elementary school, instead of the "anything not-American" identity that some people like to push on us (*cough* the lib party... ignore that).  

When I get back to the Toronto area, I'll definitely be going to more events in and around the city.  Festival City has definitely shown me a good time, but I'm sure that the GTA has just as many, if not more, opportunities for cultural exploration, and just plain fun in the sun.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Travel Blog: Day 4

July 26

Spent the last 2 days down at the Rexall Edmonton Indy, the only Canadian stop on this year's IRL race schedule.  And what a weekend of racing it has been.  The crowds were great, the weather was great, the on track performances were great.  In today's main event, Paul Tracy, the Thrill from West Hill, finished in 4th, in his first race in the newly unified circuit. Gotta love PT.

Also got to see Frankie Muniz, yes that's right, Malcolm in the Middle, driving in the Atlantic Series. He didn't fare so well, but it was cool to see him zipping around the track at the City Centre Airport.

Tonight we went down to the Capital Ex (formerly Klondike Days) to see the finale concert of the fair.  Dragonette opened (which I missed.... again!), followed by Bedouin Soundclash and the evening was wrapped up by Metric.  They put on a great show in threatening weather (which never materialized, thank God).

Edmonton has billed itself as "Festival City", and I will concur at this point in time.  Not only was the Indy and Capital Ex going on this weekend, but they also have the Taste of Edmonton happening downtown.  With superb public transit specifically adapted for these events, getting to and from everything was simple and not overly time consuming.  Toronto would have managed to totally screw that up (AKA not sending enough buses to the Exhibition... for ANY event that happens there).  Kudos to Edmonton for being such an efficient host.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Travel Blog: Day 2

July 24

Well, my first full day in Edmonton has been quite eventful. Staying with Will & Colleen near the U of A campus again (a giant thank-you to them).  Highlights for the day:

The Bodyworlds exhibit at the Telus World of Science.
First thing to notice is that EVERYTHING in Alberta seems to have serious corporate sponsorship. Torontonians, can you imagine if Bell had the naming rights to the Ontario Science Centre? Regardless, this exhibit was absolutely astounding.  I am glad that I was able to catch it here in Edmonton, as I missed it when it was at the OSC.  The bodies looked fake at times, but the effect is still striking and memorable.  It made me realize how fragile the human body really is, how complicated each of the systems within it are.  They showed full bodies (devoid of skin), as well as different systems, such as the skeleton, nervous system, musculature, intestinal, etc., to demonstrate the different functionalities.  For all the super nerds out there, the process of preparing the bodies (as well as the individual systems or organs) is very very cool. Look it up, it's called plastination, invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens.  All I can suggest is that you must see this exhibit if it rolls through your city.  The exhibits on the lungs, fetuses, and the pregnant mother are worth the price of admission (almost $30).  They had a mother who was 8 months pregnant when she died.  And the baby is also preserved.  Inside of her.  Quite a moving sight.  No worries about controversies, the mother knew she was going to die, and the baby could not be saved, and donated her body to be plastinated.

MSTRKRFT & Booka Shade:  Concert @ the Starlite Room
Man, what a performance.  Went with Megan Lenz, and saw an absolutely great show.  I hadn't heard of Booka Shade until I got my ticket, and heard them for the first time at the Starlite.  This German duo were amazing, and really had the crowd going.  Unfortunately, Megan didn't get to see MSTRKRFT as she had to go to work the next morning.  And she missed one helluva set.  But the one comment I have for Edmonton's electro/dance scene... jeez, they really don't know how to dance.  Maybe I pre-judge, because I don't know the Toronto electro scene all that much (Montreal's is wicked), but other than a few bright lights, like the one dude who lit it up before the crowds got in, there was a mass of whole uncoordinated and unaware dancers. Jumping and twisting yourself has never qualified as dancing.

Overheard in Edmonton:
"We don't do aisles here"

WTF?
No angus burger?!?!?!?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Travel Blog: Day 1

5:15pm Whatever time zone this is.

Finally landed in Edmonton. The plane from Calgary to Edmonton was puny.  The guy behind me sneezed, and the plane took a dip during our ascent.  Never before have I been scared of flying. 

Travel Blog: Day 1

8:19 am
Well, I finally sit down. NOT on my flight. So the shocking news is that I did not leave home late.  We left in plenty of time.  But the gods of traffic chaos descended on the 403 and BAM! all lanes closed.  So of course, I got here just minutes too late to check in.  And the fee to change my flight? Another $150+tax, almost the original flight cost.  And I wore the worst possible pants.  Going through security they almost made me take them off.  The security  guy with the magic wand almost got to 2nd base. 

Standing in line at Tim's I noticed a familiar face: the Honourable Tony Clement.  I should have stopped him for a chat, but he looked like he was making a bee-line for the newsstand.  I'm guessing only to pick up the best of newspapers, the National Post.

That's all for now, I'm in for a 2hr delay, then a reroute through Calgary. Fun times ahead.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Travelling

In yet another attempt to delay the official beginning of my "adult" life, I'll be travelling to the West Coast of this beautiful country. Even though I've had plenty of time to try and figure out what I want to do at this juncture of my life, being at home hasn't proved to be the best location to do great thinking. So I'm headed away to see some sights and do some thrills, do some "communing with nature" (thats total BS, but I'll be seeing some nature sights), and spending more of the money that really isn't mine.

Here's my itinerary:

July 23: YYZ - YEG
I'll be flying into Edmonton, and visiting Holly, Colleen & Will. They're all friends from First Year (Sci 07!) and I'll be going to the IRL race (where Paul Tracy will be making his "debut"!).

July 28: YEG - YVR
Flying into Vancouver, visiting Jenn, Cody, my cousins over the week and long weekend.

Aug 5: Ferry to Vancouver Island
I'll be traipsing across Van. Isle for about 2 weeks, hitting up Nanaimo, Victoria, and hopefully Tofino/Ucluelet. I'm also going to make a mini trip into the states to Anacourtes. This will be the most relaxing part of the trip.

And then on Aug 18 I fly home.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Movies

More on the list of brilliant films that I have seen so far in 2008. (Which I believe to be one of the best years, in terms of the blockbuster films anyway). So all that time out of school has been put to good use. I've seen way too many movies. Most of them good. See the list below

In order of "greatness":

Rated: Far and above the rest
The Dark Knight (5/5)
Wall-E (4.5/5)

Rated: The Best (4/5)
Iron Man
Son of Rambow
Wanted

Rated: 3/5 & lower (in descending order of greatness)
Kung-Fu Panda
Hancock
Rambo 4
Zohan
Narnia: Prince Caspian
Indiana Jones 4
Cloverfield
The Happening

The Dark Knight

(This entry does NOT contain spoilers)

Every year I make a very long list of the summer movies that I want to see, mainly blockbusters. And each year I am generally disappointed by the lackluster performances, the cheap plot lines, and the ton of CGI used. Not so this year.

An aside, to recap my most anticipated movies of years past:
2007: Pirates 3, Spiderman 3, HP5, Bourne 3... Movie of year: Knocked Up
2006: X-Men 3, Casino Royale, Pirates 2... Movie of year: Pan's
2005: War of the Worlds, HP4, Star Wars 3, Narnia... Movie of year: Batman Begins

I just returned from watching The Dark Knight. And I am astounded. Not since LOTR have I seen an opening night audience applaud a movie as heartily as today's midnight viewing received. I usually judge a movie by its ability to make me lose myself within its action and storylines.

Tonight I lost all sense of time.

Tonight I was scared of the worst that a purely psychotic villain could expose.

Tonight I was mesmerized by a story woven so intricately that my suspension of disbelief was complete.

Tonight I witnessed a masterpiece of cinematic history.

Simply put, Heath Ledger's performance is mostly gripping. And terrifying. His portrayal of The Joker could not have been any more precise, as the perfect archenemy to the Caped Crusader. The script writers did great work with his lines; each is quote worthy. His entire being is devoted to chaos, and I genuinely feared his possible effect on humanity.

In the end, all I can say is: GO SEE DARK KNIGHT!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Motivation

Well, it is now almost the end of May. And I have yet to seriously continue my search for gainful employment. I've spend time doing "stuff": the OCE Discovery conference, cleaning/renovating almost the entire house, sorting out some personal affairs. But really, not a lick in terms of finding long term employment.
The problem I am having at the moment is one of conflicted priorities. And until those are sorted out (which always takes me oodles of time), I know that I won't be properly motivated to find that dream job that I've been looking for.
My brother (Jerome) and I have been tossing about this idea of our own startup company. Not too many details here, but the general gist of the company would be to create homes that are more environmentally friendly, with a reduced ecological impact. The real difference is that everything must be presented to potential home owners (and home renovators, to start) in phrases and figures that will actually draw them to the service, other than the "save the earth" let's be green tree hugger movement. People can be convinced by showing them the impact on the bottom line. A 3-5% increase in initial investment can result in 25-60% reduction in operation and maintenance costs. When taken to their actual dollar values, those are numbers that everyone can understand, appreciate, and want to act on. Anyway, I've divulged too much already! Unless you're an electrical engineer or mechanical engineer (particularly HVAC), that wants in...

My dilemma is the choice between three options: find a job in construction management, where I have my lionshare of experience; find a job with a consulting company where I can get experience for the eventual startup; or just run with the startup company right away. It's not as if I'm in dire need of a steady income at the moment, my mother is graciously supporting me for the summer. And there's also the "strike while the iron is hot" mentality going.

Either way... once convocation occurs next week, I'll have made up my mind. I've already started up the Monster/Workopolis searches. Yikes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Early Lessons Learned

This is a very momentous day for me, both personally and professionally. Today marks the end of my undergraduate career. 5 long years. At times frustrating, revealing, arduous. But always rewarding. My final semester examinations could not have gone any better. I was very prepared for each and every one of them. I probably took my most despised (Wastewater and Engineering Economics) and most loved (Law) courses of my entire career here. And yet the result should be (nothing is guaranteed yet) positive all around.

The experiences I had in my Law class were phenomenal. It made me consider a career in Law. A JD is a very difficult process. I’ve seen the effort that Devin and Alphonso have put into their first year law programme. It’s not that I am incapable of it. I don’t think that I have the emotional fortitude at this point of my life to complete something like that. I do know that I would enjoy it, immensely.

What I am seriously considering is an MBA. It is often said that every graduating engineer considers it. But after having it lie latent in my conscious thought for several months, I am sincerely considering it. I feel that it is only a matter of funding at this point. If I can raise the funds, I will definitely apply. I sincerely wish that I had taken the opportunity to take more Business and Commerce courses throughout my time here at Queen’s. It took me 4 years to understand the value of these principals to my engineering background.

Today was an emotional day. Not only am I leaving behind a large portion of my somewhat “adult” life, (actually my transition into adult life) but today I learned the biggest lesson of my professional life to date. People and companies will say and do anything to keep you, at that particular point in time. I was promised the moon at the company that I previously worked for. It was always about what I would get in the future; once I graduated. And now that I am approaching that time, the promise remains unfulfilled. I would expect to receive, at a minimum, what I can get elsewhere. What other companies deem to be my worth, based on my knowledge base and experiences. However, this appears to mean nothing to my former employer. This has finally signaled to me that I need to seriously reconsider what I will be doing once I graduate at the end of May.

I sent what I would consider to be a well thought out and careful response to the offer that I finally received from them. A few of my major points:

I felt it to be both redundant and inappropriate for me to require a probationary period. After having worked for them for 12 full months, they are fully aware of my level of competence. I have also shown loyalty, in returning to them last summer, although I had a more attractive offer elsewhere.

Salary, obviously. I have another offer that stands at $5,000 more per year, from a larger construction company, but in a lower, entry level role. With better benefits. And more opportunity for growth. And more opportunities in terms of variety of projects.

I was told that there is "little to no room for negotiations." I simply cannot accept their offer as it stands, and it looks like I'll be moving on.

Regardless, the lesson I took from this: Don’t believe anything that someone promises you in the business world. Make them back it up. I should have made them extend me a written offer last summer, BEFORE I went back to work for them. Ah well, lesson learned.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The First Post

March 24, 11:13pm.
11 days until my final University class.
22 days until my final University exam.
66 days until I get a piece of paper telling me that 5 years of University (and 5 years of high school and 10 years of elementary school) was worth something.

The name of my blog has to do with this new realization of mine. It really started to hit me at the beginning of this past summer when I was starting work again. Once most students leave school, they usually say that their jobs has little to nothing to do with what they actually studied in school. Even if a Civil Engineering student (like moi) went off to work for a Structural engineering firm, they would still only know 5-10% of the knowledge required to do their job.

What I have come to realize (I am finally getting to my point...) is that education is not necessarily about the actual knowledge gained. The knowledge isn't the end to itself, as it were. Learning is a means to an end, the end being the development of capabilities. The development of new skills. And it's those skills that I will be using. Not the knowledge, but the experience.

Took me 4 years of University to finally figure that out, but hey, better late than never.