Sunday, December 29, 2019

Makes Sense To Me

I had this exact conversation with my son this week as he and his wife visited from the west.
Alberta, Ottawa set to clash over rent supplement cost, Dec. 27

This story reports another impasse over money between Alberta and Ottawa. Yet it fails to explain the full story as to why Alberta is so low on cash.

Alberta has been a tax haven for decades, and still has no provincial sales tax like almost all of the rest of Canada pays. For Ontario, the provincial sales tax is 8 per cent; for Alberta, it is 0. The revenue going to provincial coffers from this are huge in Ontario; zilch in Alberta.

So what does Alberta Premier Jason Kenney do? He expects federal funds to cover for the lack of Alberta provincial funds. He never mentions sales tax. That means taxpayers in other provinces, who pay provincial sales tax as well as other taxes, are expected to maintain the Alberta tax haven.

Why isn’t this fact included in every story about Alberta seeking federal money? Canadians would then better understand how Kenney is pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.

Allan Fox, Toronto

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Breaking Up With Jesus

While some may be cheered by the fact that evangelical magazine Christianity Today has called for Donald Trump's removal, be aware that theirs apparently is not a widely-held view amongst 'true' believers.

The inimitable Mrs. Betty Bowers explains to Jesus why evangelicals can no longer follow Him: they are seeing someone else.

Friday, December 20, 2019

The House That Trump Didn't Build

Johnny Carson, when bringing to the audience's attention bizarre stories that strained credulity, used to say, "Folks, I do not make these things up; I merely report them."

I shall leave you to infer what you will from the following report, which left me, shall we say, in less than optimal spirits.
A farmhouse near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, known as the Trump House, wants to make neighbourhoods great again. Trump superfan Leslie Rossi is behind it. Mike Armstrong explains why and how Rossi thinks critics haven’t given Trump a fair chance.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Real Adult In The Room

These days, it is hard to see the call to public office as an honourable one. The following letter sets things into their proper perspective, I think, while the video that follows shows who the real adult in the room is:
Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne remarks that every child has the right to aspire to public office. We can look to the elections of Donald Trump, Doug Ford and now Boris Johnson and realize that children have and will continue to aspire to and achieve public office.

G.A. Corcoran, Toronto

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Dieselgate: The Stench Continues In Ottawa

Most people will remember the massive crime against humanity perpetrated by Volkswagen when it used software to hide the amount of noxious emissions its diesel engines were actually spewing out. If you are a little rusty on the details, I posted about it over a year ago. For those who want the Coles Notes version, suffice it to say that the company paid billions of dollars in penalties and had to take the offending vehicles off the road. Indeed, some executives are now behind bars because of their crime.

Not so in Canada, however.

It seems that after four years of discussion as well as intensive lobbying by Volkswagen of the government and the Prime Minister's Office, (lobbying directed toward the same cast of characters, shockingly, that tried to arrange for a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin), it appears that Volkswagen will get off with only a fine, four years after much harsher justice was meted out in other countries.

I urge you to watch the following news report. It inflamed me, and reaffirmed, in my mind, the neoliberal bona fides of Justin Trudeau and his robber baron friends and colleagues. Please pay special attention to the response that Jagmeet Singh got from Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Naveep Bains when the former raised the issue in the House:

Friday, December 13, 2019

Don't Let The Door Hit You On Your Way Out

No doubt the Idiot-In Chief thinks that by changing his residence, he will avoid justice in New York:

Thursday, December 12, 2019

You've Been Warned

Should the legislative branch of the American government do what a functioning democracy requires and hold an out-of-control President to account, mayhem will ensue, according to Trump Nation:

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

More Evidence That The Emperor Has No Clothes

The Mound notified me that he is having problems accessing his blog, and so directed me to the following story. Given the stellar job he has been doing on the climate file and other issues relating to the earth's viability, I know my post will be a mere shadow of the quality and depth he brings to bear, but here goes anyway.

The Guardian reports a truth about Justin Trudeau that his supporters are loathe to acknowledge: despite his election pledge, he is leading us farther away from any chance of meeting Canada's promised greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
... Justin Trudeau’s newly re-elected government will decide whether to throw more fuel on the fires of climate change by giving the go-ahead to construction of the largest open-pit oil sands mine in Canadian history.

Approving Teck Resources’ Frontier mine would effectively signal Canada’s abandonment of its international climate goals. The mega mine would operate until 2067, adding a whopping 6 megatonnes of climate pollution every year. That’s on top of the increasing amount of carbon that Canada’s petroleum producers are already pumping out every year.

Approving Teck Resources’ Frontier mine would effectively signal Canada’s abandonment of its international climate goals. The mega mine would operate until 2067, adding a whopping 6 megatonnes of climate pollution every year. That’s on top of the increasing amount of carbon that Canada’s petroleum producers are already pumping out every year.
And despite Trudeau's repeated and lofty rhetoric about consulting Indigenous people, this project has grave implications for them:
The Teck mega mine would be on Dene and Cree territory, close to Indigenous communities. The area is home to one of the last free-roaming herds of wood bison, it’s along the migration route for the only wild population of endangered whooping cranes, and is just 30km from the boundary of Wood Buffalo national park – a Unesco world heritage site because of its cultural importance and biodiversity.
Most Canadians are aware of the filthy nature of tar sand development, but even if this project does not go ahead, much further damage is being planned:
Even without Teck Frontier, there are 131 megatonnes per year in approved tar sands projects just waiting for companies to begin construction. No wonder the industry is on track to take up 53% of Canada’s emissions budget within the next 10 years.
And the signs that Trudeau is giving little more than lip service to emission-reduction is becoming very evident:
Less than two months ago, two-thirds of Canadians voted for parties vowing to do more to fight climate change. Trudeau promised during the campaign to introduce legally binding targets for Canada to reach net zero emissions by 2050. But all the current national climate policies, including a carbon tax and coal phase-out, would be overwhelmed by this carbon juggernaut and Canada would radically fail to meet its climate commitments.
There are alternatives:
By rejecting the Teck mega mine, the Canadian government could signal that it is committed to stopping this runaway train. That it does represent the two-thirds of Canadians who voted for increased action against climate breakdown. It could launch a serious program to help the oil and gas workers of Alberta, the people who are out of work and need a future to believe in, by redirecting the many billions of dollars for pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure into diversifying and decarbonizing Alberta’s economy.

In rejecting the Teck mega mine, Canada would be joining France, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Norway and recently California – all jurisdictions that have recently constrained expansion of oil and gas due to the urgent need to build cleaner safer energy systems and fight climate change.
Based on the Trudeau government's past performance, I would say the odds of the Teck project being approved are great. But I would very much welcome being proven wrong.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tis The Season

I love being able to disseminate cheer at this time of the year.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Time To Lighten Up

Often we can be so weighed down by the woes of the world that we forget there is much humour to be found in it. Indeed, I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that frequently, people take themselves far too seriously, mounting as they often do that white steed to proclaim outrage against some perceived wrongdoing. If you will bear with me for a few moments, I hope to show the lighter side of that outrage.

You are probably familiar with the following Peleton commercial which has garnered quite a frenzied, even rabid, response from those sensitive souls who are always eager to proclaim their truth as universal, and happy to foist it upon the rest of us:

As reported by the New York Times, many were deeply offended:
Many social media users criticized the commercial for being sexist and classist. A Peloton Bike retails for $2,245, and membership for the company’s signature interactive classes costs $39 a month.

The woman in the commercial, many users pointed out, was already fit.
Such carping criticism, it seems to me, misses the point of exercise in general, and of the commercial specifically, perhaps best summed up in this Tweet:

In any event, I have no use for such extreme political correctness. It suggests to me that some people have far too much time on their hands.

Which is why I was delighted to see this send-up by the always irreverent Ryan Reynolds (he of Deadpool fame) in a commercial for his new gin:
In an ad for Reynolds’ Aviation Gin called, “The Gift That Doesn’t Give Back,” we see Peloton Girl once again, same intense but unreadable expression, a wider shot cuts to her friends, looking as puzzled [and] concerned as anyone who has seen the ad feels.

Time for folks to lighten up and save their outrage for matters of real import, like climate change, neoliberal politicians, and the general state of the world.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

According to this group of crazed evangelicals, all is well in the world thanks to God's chosen one occupying the White House. My suspicion is there was a full moon out.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Things Fall Apart

The idea of entropy comes from a principle of thermodynamics dealing with energy. It usually refers to the idea that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder, and entropy is the measurement of that change.

The above is one definition of entropy. Here is another, perhaps more germane to this post: a doctrine of inevitable social decline and degeneration.

While I am not sure of the inevitability of such decline, it seems to be a perfect definition for the disorder that has plagued Ontario since Doug Ford and his crew were elected to 'govern' Ontario. And the latest reports show that things are growing worse by the day. In this self-proclaimed "open for business" province, workers are suffering:
Just 1 per cent of workplaces across the province are being proactively inspected to ensure they are safe — and the Ministry of Labour’s enforcement efforts are failing to prevent employers from repeatedly violating safety protections, according to this year’s auditor general report.

In reviewing health and safety initiatives in Ontario, the auditor general looked at companies that had been inspected by the ministry at least three times in the past six years. It found many employers were ordered to fix the same hazard year after year, citing details reported by the Star on a North York industrial bakery where five temporary help agency workers have died.

“The concern is they’re really not enforcing as they should be,” said Patty Coates, the newly elected head of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “They’re not strong enough with employers and that’s what they really need to focus on.”

“This government needs to put some money into prevention but also to properly investigate, as well as lay charges and fines,” Coates said.
But wait. There's more! In addition to the present chaos in education, brought on by a leadership that is intent on devaluing education, are the following:
- Premier Doug Ford’s climate change plan is based on faulty calculations and will fall well short of the Paris Agreement targets to reduce greenhouse gases by 2030.

- 67,000 of the 1 million patients discharged from hospitals annually have suffered some type of harm.

- Nurses are “repeatedly” fired or banned by hospitals for incompetence are rehired by other hospitals, posing risks to patient safety.

- Wait times for addictions treatment, emergency department visits for opioid emergencies, and addiction death rates continue to rise despite increased funding.

- Nursing home menus are alarmingly high in sugar — contributing to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer — as well as sodium, and low in fibre.
Thermodynamics may dictate an inevitable trend in the physical world from order to disorder. There is no such law in the realm of human behaviour. That is entirely on us.

Monday, December 2, 2019

A Creeping And Very Real Threat

I am currently reading Linda McQuaig's latest book, The Sport & Prey of Capitalists: How the Rich Are Stealing Canada's Public Wealth. As with most of her books, despite her very clear, accessible writing style, I am having a hard time with it, disturbing as it is in so many ways. While I am not prepared to discuss it at this point, its thesis, not exactly startling, is that our government is ceding more and more of our formerly proud public institutions to the depredations of rampant capitalism.

I came across the following video on The Guardian today, about threats to the British National Health Service by Boris Johnson as he prepares to negotiate bilateral trade deals, perhaps the most impactful one being with the U.S. It addresses the sort of mentality that McQuaig talks about in her book. You can read the article here, and watch the disturbing claims being made by Labour's Jermeemy Corbyn below: