Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Brief Pause

The metaphorical road beckons. See you in a bit.

Fortress Amerika Begins To Pay A Heavy Price

Now that the parody of a president selected by the American people has infected the U.S. national psyche with more than its usual quotient of paranoia and xenophobia, those same people are beginning to get the message that there is a high price to be paid for their irresponsibility. And I, for one, can muster little pity for those sectors that are suffering as a result of their fellow-citizens' choice.

Many are choosing to avoid Amerika for at least the next four years, from individuals to educational institutions. And it is beginning to have a financial impact, as these statistics make clear:
-Tourists spend $108.1 million an hour in the USA.

-Tourists spend $2.1 trillion in the USA every year, half of which goes to secondary small businesses like bars, restaurants, theaters, and so on.

-All of this generates $147.9 billion in annual tax revenue at the city, state, and federal levels.

-Travel ranks as the seventh largest industry in the USA.

Granted these figures represent domestic travelers as well as international ones. If you just look at international travelers, they still supported 1.1 million jobs and $28.4 billion in wages in 2015 alone. And in a divided America, will we see less internal travel, too? Almost certainly.

And as the following report makes clear, the financial health of universities is also in jeopardy:

All of these developments must be humbling indeed for the country that has the hubris to call itself 'the greatest nation on earth."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Star Letter-Writers Seldom Disappoint

Whenever I am feeling a bit down about the world around me and the passivity with which so many 'face' it, I know I can go to the letters section of The Toronto Star to buoy my spirits. Today is no exception, as readers render judgement on the disgraced Senator Don Meredith and roundly reject his groundless, cowardly claim of being a victim of racism.
Re: Racism at play in criticisms of Don Meredith, senator's lawyer says, March 19

I am fed up with the cry of “racism,” which is being broken out once again by Senator Don Meredith in the affair involving a minor child.

Our disgust has nothing to do with the fact that he is a man of colour. His confession of “moral failing” does not begin to excuse the use of his positions of power and prestige to engage in the grooming and exploitation of a child.

The sexual exploitation of children is one of society's greatest taboos. In our universal rejection, the colour of the perpetrator has nothing to do with our perception of the grievousness of his behaviour or our concern for the probable lasting effect on the victim.

Senator Meredith's actions are those of a man without any moral compass whatsoever. And we as a community must be clear that our rejection of his actions have nothing to do with his colour.

He has crossed a line for which there is no possible excuse. If he has any honour or courage left, he must resign the Senate immediately

Robert Kent, Mississauga

This saga of indecent behaviour by Sen. Meredith has become utterly disgusting. After the Senator's failed attempt to mitigate his situation by blaming the victim, and by claiming that racism is the reason that he is being scrutinized, his (now former) lawyer has brought the situation to greater heights of disbelief.

Selwyn Pieters equates Meredith's sexual involvement with a 17-year-old girl to Senators Wallin and Duffy being investigated for improper use of expense accounts. They were not forced to resign. So he suggests there is racism at play.

Meredith's behaviour was bad enough. His continued attempt to blame everyone and everything else, and his lawyer's ridiculous statements, have reached a pinnacle requiring the Senate to deal with him.

Mike Faye, Toronto

For Senator Meredith to claim racism is rich. He got caught doing something he knew very well he should not have been doing and now that his world is imploding, he is blaming everyone else.

For him to make this whole thing go away would be to resign, and the fact that the Senate cannot force him to do so is sad. He is an embarrassment to everything that he stands for as a father, husband, minister and senator.

The senate has had enough embarrassment in the past year or so with Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy. That we taxpayers do not have a way of getting rid of them is a problem that has to be fixed.

Allan Mantel, Victoria Harbour, Ont.

One thing for certain, If Meredith was a member of the “old white boys country club,” he wouldn't be able to “play the race card.” Anyone, regardless of race, committing such an egregious act, should not only be thrown out of the Senate, but should also should be criminally prosecuted.

Warren Dalton

Friday, March 24, 2017

Setting The Record Straight

Now that Senator Don Meridith, about whom I have previously posted, has switched lawyers, it is gratifying to see that his cowardly cries of racism as a factor in the calls his dismissal are being put to rest.

Meredith's new lawyer had this to say yesterday:
Disgraced Sen. Don Meredith’s new lawyer says racism doesn’t play into the widespread condemnations of his client’s affair with a teenage girl, after the senator and his previous lawyer claimed he was being treated unfairly in the wake of the sex scandal.

“It’s not my approach, nor is it my opinion, that there is any racial bias or issue here in relation to the matter, or how the Senate has been dealing with it,” Bill Trudell, a Toronto defence lawyer, said in an interview Thursday.
While the Senate ethics committee still faces an uphill battle on ejecting him from the Upper Chamber, at least we now have a small victory for truth and a blow to self-serving and morally reprehensible hyperbole.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Just A Couple Of Questions

Given that I have no background in economics, I will leave it to more finely-tuned minds to debate the merits of yesterday's federal budget. However, there are a couple of things that, from my perspective, need to be answered, and they both relate to the Infrastructure Bank the Liberal government is touting.

Introduced in last fall's economic update, the goal of the Bank, according to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, is
to attract private sector dollars at a ratio of $4 to $5 in private funding for every $1 of federal money.
While that sounds fine on the surface, the question about the returns that will prompt private investors, including institutional ones, to invest in infrastructure projects the bank will help fund needs to be answered. And it is here that things becoming a tad murky.

In yesterday's budget, Morneau had no real details to provide about it, other than a motherhood statement:
Ottawa has said it wants to leverage every dollar it puts in its infrastructure bank into $4 of investment, the balance kicked in by private-sector investors. The government thus hopes to fund $140 billion in infrastructure projects with an upfront Ottawa investment of just $35 billion.
Sound too good to be true? Perhaps it is:
The catch here is that only infrastructure projects with revenue streams will attract private investment. To be sure, that includes a lot of infrastructure, including toll roads and bridges; alternative-energy suppliers that reap revenues from power consumers; and water and transit systems that earn back their cost of capital through mill rates and Metropasses.
One can't help but wonder, like the idea to sell off our airports, this is just another neoliberal ploy, thinly disguised, that will redirect revenue from the public to the private domain.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released a study that suggests we will all be paying more for this largess gifting the private sector:
This study finds that private financing of the proposed Canada Infrastructure Bank could double the cost of infrastructure projects—adding $150 billion or more in additional financing costs on the $140 billion of anticipated investments. It would amount to about $4,000 per Canadian, and about $5 billion more per year (assuming an average 30-year asset life). The higher costs would ultimately mean that less public funding would be available for public services or for additional public infrastructure investments in future years.
The full study, which you can obtain here, suggests there is a better way:
There’s no reason the federal government can’t make the Canada Infrastructure Bank a truly Public Infrastructure Bank, with a mandate to provide low-cost loans (or other “innovative financial tools”) for large public infrastructure projects. The federal government already has banks and lending institutions that provide low-cost loans, financing, credit, and loan guarantees for housing, for entrepreneurs and for exporters. So why not also provide low-cost loans and other financing for public infrastructure projects? This bank could be established as a crown corporation with initial capital contributions from the federal government (and perhaps other levels of government) and backed by a federal government guarantee. It could then leverage its assets and borrow directly on financial markets at low rates and then use this capital to invest in new infrastructure projects.

This approach would involve a slightly higher cost of financing than direct federal government borrowing, but it would be considerably below the cost of private finance.
And finally, is it simply a coincidence that one of the government's tools for borrowing at ultra-low rates is ending?
The federal government is phasing out the Canada Savings Bond, a popular savings vehicle introduced after The Second World War.

The Liberals’ 2017 budget stated the bond program peaked in the late 1980s and has been in a prolonged decline since.

“The program is no longer a cost-effective source of funds for the government, compared to (other) funding options,” the budget document reads.
Perhaps it is naive of me to suggest, but wouldn't paying a higher rate of return on savings bonds that average citizens can benefit from also be a source of much-needed cash for infrastructure?

Just wondering.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Not Like His Father At All

A few days ago I posted a letter by Star reader Cathy Allen in which she discussed what it would take for her to regain her pride as a Canadian. It was outstanding, and if you haven't read it, click on the link before proceeding.

In yesterday's Star, Randy Gostling of Oshawa offered some of his own thoughts on the subject, contrasting Canada's past leadership with its current incarnation:
Re: What it will take to restore my pride, March 17

On behalf of what I would expect to be thousands of like-minded war babies, I want to sincerely thank Cathy Allen for so eloquently presenting the concerns of “we the forgotten” in the lead letter of March 17.

It’s equally nice to be reminded that much of what is right in this nation today began with Pierre Trudeau and “we the young” who believed in him. But as Ms. Allen suggests, our faith is gone.

I honestly believe Pierre Trudeau’s motivation was essentially a commitment he made to himself to do something special with his life. His son talks as if he has a similar commitment, but instead sings it like a tune while doing the beggar’s waltz for the “bigs” and next to nothing for or about indigenous grievances, refugees escaping the U.S., the environment, unemployed youth, election reform, Bill C-51 vs. constitutional rights, a corrupt Senate, child poverty, housing, child care for single moms or the CRA’s reluctance to enforce laws against or even expose or punish wealthy and corrupt citizens, corporations and banks.

Pierre created Petro-Canada to resist Big Oil, while Justin approves pipelines and further development and transportation (through pristine areas) for some of the dirtiest, most destructive oil on Earth, even as the world is running out of clean air and water. Pierre delivered on promises while Justin chose to simply make them long enough to get elected.

Cathy Allen speaks for many in saying we are disappointed. We miss who and what we were and what our nation used to be. It’s still held in esteem by the world — but it seems because the world has gotten worse, not because we got better.

Like Allen says, at least we’re not American. But that’s not nearly good enough for us or Pierre.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Circumstantial Noose

In his opening statement before James Comey's testimony yesterday in front of the House Intelligence Committee probing Trump ties to Russia, Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) laid out of all of the circumstantial evidence that has built up so far connecting the Trump campaign to Russian state actors seeking the intervene in the election.

I think you will find his chronology fascinating, leaving little doubt that "something wicked this way came" on the road to Trump's capture of The White House:

Monday, March 20, 2017

An Ally Of Ignorance

What is a man
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.

- Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4.

Some of the greatest foes of ignorance are knowledge, awareness and critical thinking. Key tools in the cultivation of our humanity, without them we would exist in a perpetual present, lacking any kind of contextual ability with which to resist the the dark forces that constantly threaten. Each of us would be, as Hamlet says, A beast, no more.

A key ally and promoter of ignorance is Donald Trump, whose installment in the White House has provided the means by which the bestial aspect of our collective nature is ascendant, and the things that help define and cultivate our humanity are under grave attack, examples of which are painfully evident in the following:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

More On The Rogue Senator And Moral Coward, Don Meredith

On Friday's Power and Politics, host Rosemary Barton was her usual relentless self, evident in her sharp questioning of Selwyn Pieters, the attorney representing disgraced Senator Don Meredith, about whom I posted on Friday. It seems to me that the only point she overlooked was when Pieters insisted that Meredith did not use his position of authority to influence the unnamed 16-year-old into a sexual relationship. In fact, the moral coward promised to get the young woman a Senate internship.

Meanwhile, Toronto Star letter-writers are unanimous in their opinion of the miscreant-senator: Disgraced senator must resign or be sacked.

I offer but one of several missives that tell us why he must go:
I am disappointed with the leniency your editorial treated the senator by asking him to resign. He should be sacked. His resignation should not be accepted.

How could a senator, an ordained pastor and a married father be allowed to get away with this serious offence by allowing him to resign? First, he denied, then he tried to derail the investigation, and when the report was ready he apparently requested two versions: a sanitized report for public consumption, the other for the Senate.

Is our red chamber so rotten?

Muri B. Abdurrahman, Thornhill

Saturday, March 18, 2017

An Outstanding Letter!

While I have always considered myself an able letter-to-the-editor writer, I have also developed ability over the years to recognize superior work when I see it. The following letter from Cathy Allen of Toronto is emblematic of such work. She inspires me, as a Canadian, by her vision of what our country could be:
When I was 18, I attended Expo 67 and voted for Justin Trudeau’s father. Now that I am a widowed senior and disabled and I can’t afford to pay my rent without my son’s help, I find that I am not as proud as I once was to be a Canadian.

When will I be proud to be a Canadian again?

When we build more geared-to-income housing and repair the ones we have so every Canadian can afford a roof over their heads that costs less than 50 per cent of their income.

When nursing homes are given more than $8 dollars and change for a daily food allowance and residents can have a bath when they want.

When no one in Canada is homeless and living on the street and we can afford to bring the minimum wage and pensions above the poverty line because we’ve closed the loopholes and made the corporations that do business in this country pay their fair share of taxes.

When we restore the environmental laws that protect our rivers and lakes and enforce them.

When we stop trampling on our indigenous peoples’ sacred sites and respect their culture and land rights and pay them the compensation due them so they can build decent housing and hospitals and recreation centres and libraries, or their children can move anywhere they want and no longer feel they are not part of our society.

When working-class women with children under the age of 3 are not forced to work but may, if they wish, because we have an affordable daycare system up and running.

And, finally, when we stop calling waging war “peacekeeping” and no longer ship tanks and guns and instead send aid.

That will be the day I will be proud to be a Canadian again. Right now, all I am is relieved that I am not an American.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Moral Coward

Every so often, I happen upon a news item that, for want of a better word, inflames me; it is usually something so patently outrageous that my capacity for calm desserts me, and I launch into a semi-tirade. This morning was one of those moments.

Now some may say that because I am not black, I have no right to pass judgement on Senator Don Meredith, the reprobate who used his positions of power (as pastor of his church and as a Harper-appointed senator) to 'groom' an underage member of his congregation for a totally inappropriate and morally reprehensible sexual relationship. Anyone who reads my blog knows that injustice, especially the abuse of power, is something that offends me to the core, and a person's race or colour can never exempt him or her from condemnation.

Yet Don Meredith begs to differ. First of all, the coward is thus far refusing to resign, despite pressure from his senate colleagues to do so, instead opting to take a leave of absence "on the advice of his doctor".

Perhaps he is hoping for the storm to blow over? Meredith seems perplexed as to the calls for his resignation. In his mind, he has owned up to his 'mistake.'
"This is a moral failing on my part," a grim-faced Meredith said in a wide-ranging interview, with his wife Michelle quietly at his side. "As a human being, I made a grave error in judgment, in my interactions. For that I am deeply sorry."

Meredith, 52, repeatedly apologized to his wife, children, his fellow senators and "all Canadians" for the relationship that took place with the woman known only as Ms. M.

His wife and children have forgiven him, he said, and he asked for the same forgiveness from his Senate colleagues and Ms. M herself.

"I believe in the power of forgiveness and reconciliation," he said as his Toronto lawyer looked on. "We're humans, and humans make mistakes."
But neither his public mea culpa nor his refusal to resign are what set me off. It was this:
The senator said Wednesday he believes he has been the victim of racism since the allegations about his affair first surfaced in the summer of 2015. Where individuals of colour rise, he said, somehow they're taken down — whether it's "self-inflicted or orchestrated."

"Absolutely, racism has played a role in this," Meredith said. "This is nothing new to me. There is always a double standard that exists in this country."

Pieters said his client was being portrayed as a "sexual predator" because he is an imposing black man — but that clearly was not the case.
For Meredith to 'play the race card' not only compounds his moral cowardice, but also indirectly impugns all those who have been actual victims of racism. His claim, in my view, demonstrates not only his unfitness to hold public office, but also his ongoing position as executive director of the GTA Faith Alliance.

And I am hardly alone in my umbrage:

There is no question in my mind that if we are to have even a modicum of respect for the failing Senate, Don Meredith must go.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Absolutely Spellbinding

It is hardly an insight to state that we have largely wasted and abused the intelligence that evolution has conferred on us. Instead of nurturing and protecting our own species and all the others that abound in our world, our human story seems to be one of ruthless exploitation and degradation, a short-sighted philosophy that will likely end in collective destruction.

The latest iteration of that selfishness is evident, for example, in Donald Trump's intention to undo the advances made during the Obama administration on climate change mitigation. That such is ideological madness is evident in the latest report on massive Artic permafrost melting, which will ultimately serve to accelerate global warming.

But grim as our choices have been and still are, I always harbour a faint hope, despite all the contraindications, that we can still achieve some of our natural potential before it is entirely too late. As I have written in the past, I believe that nature documentaries hold the key if we are ever to overcome even a little of our innate selfishness. To see the larger and the smaller world around us, a world we give little thought to in our day-to-day lives ("So what if another species is going extinct? I'm never likely to see a Sumatran Tiger anyway."), is to be both humbled and infected with awe. This is especially true given the latest techniques in natural cinematography that can be described as little less than magical.

It is in this spirit that I urge you to see Planet Earth 11, which is currently being broadcast in free preview on BBC Earth in my neck of the woods. So far I have seen two episodes, one on islands and the other on deserts. Neither, as you will see if you watch, are static environments, but rather ones teeming with life and constant change.

Believe me, you will not be disappointed; I suspect you will come away from the experience a changed person.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

More Reasons To Boycott U.S Travel

I have no regrets about my recent decision to boycott travel to the United States as long as the Trump regime, dominated as it is by paranoid exclusions and hate-mongering policies, continues in office. An item on last night's NBC News amply demonstrates that for some people, border crossings are becoming risks not worth taking.

Two American citizens encountered quite a bit of land turbulence upon returning from visits to Canada:
When Buffalo, New York couple Akram Shibly and Kelly McCormick returned to the U.S. from a trip to Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017, U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers held them for two hours, took their cellphones and demanded their passwords.

"It just felt like a gross violation of our rights," said Shibly, a 23-year-old filmmaker born and raised in New York. But he and McCormick complied, and their phones were searched.
But the story doesn't end there:
Three days later, they returned from another trip to Canada and were stopped again by CBP.

"One of the officers calls out to me and says, 'Hey, give me your phone,'" recalled Shibly. "And I said, 'No, because I already went through this.'"

The officer asked a second time..

Within seconds, he was surrounded: one man held his legs, another squeezed his throat from behind. A third reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. McCormick watched her boyfriend's face turn red as the officer's chokehold tightened.

Then they asked McCormick for her phone.

"I was not about to get tackled," she said. She handed it over.

This kind of racial profiling and 'lawful' seizure of telephones should give all of us pause; any Canadians travelling to the U.S. are its potential victims, although clearly, if you are white and have a non-Arabic name, your chances of passing through unmolested are greater. But I come back to a fundamental question that prompted me to start my personal travel boycott: Do we really want to patronize a country that once welcomed foreigners but now stigmatizes, bullies and excludes them?

Finally, it is worth noting that Girl Guides of Canada has decided to cancel trips to the U.S.
"While the United States is a frequent destination for Guiding trips, the ability of all our members to equally enter this country is currently uncertain," international commissioner Sharron Callahan and director of provincial operations Holly Thompson wrote in a joint advisory issued Monday afternoon.

"This includes both trips that are over or under 72 hours and any travel that includes a connecting flight through an American airport," the advisory says.

The statement does not directly mention — but appears to be a reaction to — the executive orders U. S. President Donald Trump has signed restricting travel to the United States.
This decision comes amidst many other groups and Canadian school boards contemplating trip cancellations for the same reason.

The American love of money is well-known. It seems only logical that they should now learn via commercial interdiction the price to be paid for choosing a racist, paranoid demagogue as their president. Many of them may love the Trump message, but worldwide, far more do not.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Part Political Theatre and Part Schoolyard Bully

And probably the saddest thing is that far too many people take this kind of clown seriously:

Laughing At Absurdity

I believe that the older we get, the more important it is not only to recognize and acknowledge the tragedies of life, be they social, economic, political or environmental, but also the many absurdities that abound within those realms. Call it dark humour, whistling past the graveyard, or just being politically incorrect, seeing the absurd is a coping mechanism that allows for the release of at least a modicum of the despair that envelops us in the twenty-first century.

I therefore have little sympathy with those who are easily offended. Consider the following political cartoon that appeared recently in the Toronto Star:

As the heading suggests, it is the cartoonist's take on the fact that many are vying to become the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, one that looks headed for the Opposition benches after next year's election, in no small part due to the spectacularly unpopular Kathleen Wynne, our current premier.

Yet the cartoon was too much for at least one Star reader, who penned his outrage in the following missive:

Re: Cartoon, March 8

The Star cartoon by Theo Moudakis depicting a plot to assassinate Premier Wynne is obscene and unforgivable. What was the intention here by the Star to its readers?

Showing her cabinet attempting to hide, with knives, suggesting to do away with the premier, is not what you should be preaching to your readers. Truly, there must be another answer on matters of opinion.

Dennis Dineno, Oakville
I've known people like Dennis throughout my life. They are often quite good people, but overly earnest in their pursuit of justice and rectitude. There is little in their lives to leaven the oppression that life regularly metes out. They can be a trial for those around them. Indeed, just reading his umbrage tasks me.

So, from the perspective granted by my years, my advice is to embrace the oddly funny moments life has to offer. To rebuke them prevents what little light there is to shine through and keep us from total darkness.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Energy Democracy

Sure, many will dismiss this as a Utopian socialist dream, especially given the neoliberal tenor of the times, but are there any other viable alternatives to global degradation and destruction?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

UPDATED: What The Racists Ignore

I realize that it is essentially pointless to try to argue against those Canadians who harbour fear or hatred of 'the other.' The latest iteration of that debased mental and moral condition is, of course, reflected in demonstrations and hate crimes against the Muslim community, with some pretty vile declarations being made suggesting that they should either die or 'go back to their own country.'

Were I so inclined and the opportunity arose, here is what I would say to those who live in fear that things like sharia law will soon be imposed on all of us, and that they are 'taking over our country.'

I would start with two anecdotes drawn from my teaching career. One, which involved a Christian, occurred many years ago, vivid still in my memory because it was a Parents' Night on the evening following the birth of my son. The other happened many years later, and involved a Muslim.

The Chrisian, who I shall refer to as Mrs. J., was the wife of a Baptist minister, and she came to the meeting in high dudgeon over the fact that her daughter was reading a novel by Robertson Davies entitled Fifth Business. The book was part of an independent reading project in which students made their selection from a wide range of titles. Mrs. J. told me her brother-in-law had given her the book as a gift, something, she said, he should have known better than to do since it dealt with what she felt was a disrespectful depiction of a Baptist's minister's wife.

What was that disrespectful treatment? At the novels's beginning, a boy who turns out to be the protagonist sets into motion a series of events when a snowball he throws hits the minister's wife, the shock of which affects her mentally and induces premature labour.

Mrs. J. then went on to declare that no students should be permitted to read such books, at which point I told her that while she had every right as a parent to request a change of book for her daughter, no one has the right to dictate what others may or may not read.

Fast forward many years to another school, and a phone call from an aggrieved parent. The book in question this time was Flowers For Algernon, upon which the movie Charly was based. There is one small part in the novel that has rather subtle sexual content. The same scenario played out, with a Muslim father objecting to his daughter reading the book (again, it was her own independent selection from a long list of titles). He went on, as had the Baptist Mrs. J.,to declare that no students should have access to such material, and I told him exactly the same thing I had told Mrs. J. all those years before.

What is my point here? In both cases, the children of these strict parents had no problem with the material they had selected. It was, I believe, largely the result of living in a healthy, dynamic, pluralistic society, a society that is bound to exert far more influence and moderation on next generation people than it does on an older generation with more entrenched and often inflexible notions. It is a fact that those who rail against newcomers either choose to ignore or whose profound ignorance prevents them from understanding.

So please spare me the hysteria. I have no patience with those who think of Canada as a society whose values (whatever they may be) and institutions will be overtaken by a particular group or ideology. It is that fear, of course, that propels political opportunists like Kellie Leitch to blow her dog whistle, and it is a fear that, when given voice, is an insult to all of us, whether native born or new Canadians.

UPDATE: In today's Star, Azeezah Kanji writes about people's unfounded fear of sharia law.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Americans Had Their Wells Fargo Scandal ....

Now we have our own, thanks to TD Canada Trust's duplicitous practices:

Another Pending Betrayal

As we become increasingly disillusioned about the growing disparity between the Trudeau promise and its reality, another betrayal of that promise is pending. Like his neoliberal soul sister in Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, who insists that selling off 60% of the provincial crown jewel known as Hydro One is a no-brainer, Mr. Trudeau apparently thinks it is a keen idea to consider delivering our national airports over to profiteers, a.k.a. the private sector, to raise money for his 'national vision.' The upcoming federal budget looks to begin the process:
The budget is expected to signal the government’s interest in finding a way to tap the value of airports with a process, perhaps led by Transport Minister Marc Garneau, to more formally explore selling them off, the Star has learned.

The potential benefit for Ottawa is huge. One study done by the Vancouver airport authority estimated that the federal government could reap between $8.7 billion and $40.1 billion by selling off the country’s eight largest airports, including Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
That may be good news for a government with a burgeoning deficit, but bad news for the rest of us:
Yet the privatization scheme is ringing alarm bells among airlines, airport operators and some municipalities who warn that handing over Canada’s airports to owners with a profit motive sets the stage for rising fees that will force travellers to pay more.

Vancouver airport has teamed with those in Ottawa and Calgary on a public information campaign to oppose privatization.

“We think it’s a bad idea,” Craig Richmond, the chief executive officer of the Vancouver Airport Authority, told the Star.

“This idea of a one-time payment, that’s like selling the family jewels and then regretting it forever,” he said in an interview.
The consequences of such a sale will be far-reaching and costly for those who fly:
... the authority concludes that privatization would add “hundreds of millions of extra costs” that would have to be recovered through cost-cutting, increased fees and reduced investment in airport infrastructure.

“It would be too costly for a for-profit buyer to acquire an airport such as YVR without reducing services and passing these costs on to airport users through higher fees and charges,” the report states.
So while the private sector may salivate over the prospect of windfall profits, as is the norm in the neoloiberal vision embraced by people like Trudeau and his fellow travellers, the rest of us, the mere peons in this 'grand' vision, will be left to pay the price.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

How Must It Feel?

Since the installation of Donald Trump in the White House, I have wondered how it must feel to the average American who is neither unhinged nor incapable of critical thought to have a man so obviously deranged leading their country. This latest episode of Trump's paranoid demagoguery surely must be a source of deep consternation to such people:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Stellar Analysis: Kellyanne Conway's Interview Tricks, Explained

Vox offers this deconstruction of the slippery and morally repugnant Kellyanne Conway.

A Coward, Pure And Simple

When I was young, we had a term for certain individuals. We called them "gutless wonders." It still seems like the most apt term today. Watch this video and you'll see why:

Friday, March 3, 2017

UPDATED: A Deluded Woman

That very strange lady, CPC leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, insists that the widespread 'popularity' of her online video is proof of the popularity of her platform against immigrants, She ignores the fact that the basis for its viral spread is mockery, not admiration, over its bizarre production values and patent insincerity. If you haven't yet seen it, the above link will take you to it.

Meanwhile, CTV's Don Martin has this incisive assessment of her efforts:

And as to her claim that her immigration stance is resonating with the public, well, Star readers have a different view, and are especially pained that her pandering to the extreme right has led her to advertise on Breitbart, about which I recently posted:
Re: Conservative MP Leitch runs ads on Breitbart site, Feb. 25

When conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch runs ads on the U.S. Breitbart News website, it is time to screen Leitch for her “Canadian values.”

The ultra-conservative and white supremacist views expressed and promoted by the Breitbart News organization bear no relation to and are not synonymous with “Canadian values.” Since “Canadian values” is what Leitch is claiming to protect, it is only fair — and possibly urgent — that her views be scrutinized, i.e. “screened.”

Peter Krysmanski, Oakville

I am so disgusted to see that Kellie Leitch has bought advertising on Breitbart News. What Canadian values does that organization represent? Absolutely none.

The alt-right is not my Canada and obviously does not represent the majority of Canadians given support for Justin Trudeau. Kellie has no place in my Canada.

Tom Byers, Cambridge, Ont.
The soul of a nation is not something to be trifled with, a fact that Kellie Leitch seems wholly incapable of appreciating.

UPDATE: Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes clearly has Ms Leitch's number:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Dangerous VOICE

First, please watch the following very brief video from The Independent. (If you have trouble playing it, simply click on the above link):

The Star's Daniel Dale, our Canadian journalist expert on all things Trump, writes today that the creation of VOICE is an alarming escalation in the Trump war against immigrants.
Claudia Koonz, a historian at Duke University, wrote a book about how the Nazis prepared Germans to accept genocide.

One of their tactics was portraying average Jews, who were overwhelmingly law-abiding, as a menace to society. In the 1930s, for example, a Nazi newspaper published a weekly list of Jews’ alleged crimes.

In January, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered his government to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, who are overwhelmingly law-abiding, in most of the country’s biggest cities.

Trump’s order also established a government office solely dedicated to helping victims of crimes committed by undocumented people. On Tuesday, he promoted the office — VOICE, for Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement — in a prime-time address to Congress.
Even though crime statistics show that illegal immigrants are less likely to engage in crime than legal residents, both the inflammatory rhetoric favoured by Trump and the above decisions serve to effectively demonize 'the other' and essentially institutionalize the Orange Ogre's racism.

Ruben G. Rumbaut, a sociologist at the University of California, Irvine, says,
“The function of this program will be, one, to further scapegoat immigrants and portray them as deadly threats, and, two, to use the perception of threat to rally and rile the ‘base’ for political gain, relying now the power and prestige of the presidency."
And as reported by The independent, the publication of a weekly list of crimes by 'aliens' echoes a prominent feature of Breitbart News, which has a section called
"black crime" ... which publishe[s] a list of offences committed by African-Americans.
Given the increasing incidents of hate crimes, including what appears to be the racially-motivated shooting last week in Kansas, I think we can all see where this is going. The question is, are there enough people of goodwill, both inside and outside of politics, to fight this rapidly escalating madness?