Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to all

Banned by the BBC, but brought to you by Nice Comfy Fur.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

10 Years Later

Today is the tenth anniversary of the National Post. Say what you will about the MSM, but can you imagine what Canada would be like if it had never existed?

From the beginning, the Post provided intellectual support to a Canadian conservative viewpoint that was sadly lacking in other Canadian media. The headline on the October 27, 1998 first edition was "Klein backs unite-the-right movement". Well it turns out they did. And now we have a Conservative government.

Happy birthday National Post!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Diefenbaker's Manifesto on Freedom of Speech

In my days as a young lawyer, I began the drafting of a Canadian Bill of Rights. The 1938 election manifesto of the Conservative Party in Saskatchewan, authored by me and issued under my leadership, began with the following statement:

"The Conservative party pledges itself to maintain the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, reaffirms its implicit belief in democracy and democratic institutions, and its absolute opposition to the principles of both Fascism and Communism."

One Canada, Memoirs of the Right Honourable JGD, The Years of Acheivement 1957-1962, MacMillan of Canada, 1976 pg 252

That was 70 years ago.

In 1960, after winning two landslide majorities, the Rt. Hon. John G. Diefenbaker and his government prevailed, and passed the Canadian Bill of Rights.

That was 48 years ago. Have we "progressed"?

Monday, October 20, 2008

What would Dief do with the HRCs?

Early on in his career, former Conservative Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker recognized the threat to freedom of speech and individual liberty:

I was concerned in 1936 about the continuing extension of the powers of the Crown at the expense of the individual. My concern was greatly intensified by experiences during and after the Second World War. On 2 May 1946, I moved an amendment to the Citizenship Bill in an attempt to have a Bill of Rights included in its provisions. I wanted to see Canadians assured by statute of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to peaceable assembly; that habeas corpus should not be suspended except by Parliament; and that no one should be required to give evidence before any tribunal or commission at any time if denied counsel or other constitutional safeguards. My amendment was opposed by the King government.

"One Canada", Memoirs of the Right Honourable JGD, The Years of Acheivement 1957-1962, MacMillan of Canada, 1976 pg 252

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Canadian and Free

I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.

The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada, House of Commons Debates, July 1, 1960

Diefenbaker said this in the debates for the Canadian Bill of Rights. Since that time, something has gone terribly wrong. It will take a Conservative majority government to get us back on track.

It's election day. Go vote.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best reason for an elected senate

Stéphane Dion has reportedly been wooing Elizabeth May with a Senate seat in return for telling Green Party supporters to vote Liberal.

Reforming or Abolishing the Senate
The Conservatives and Stephen Harper believe that the current Senate must be either reformed or abolished. An unelected Senate should not be able to block the will of the elected House in the 21st century.

As a minimum, a re-elected Conservative Government will reintroduce legislation to allow for nominees to the Senate to be selected by voters, to provide for Senators to serve fixed terms of not longer than eight years, and for the Senate to be covered by the same ethics rules as the House of Commons.

After Gerard Kennedy loses Parkdale-High Park, will he expect a Senate appointment too?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An economist at the helm

As the global economy heads into troubled waters, Canada is fortunate to have Stephen Harper, an economist, at the helm. Let's just hope the voters resist the sirens' call to put Stéphane "do something" Dion at the helm.

Paradoxically, perhaps, the fact that orthodox economics has a good deal to say about how the Great Depression happened itself suggests that there is after all something puzzling about the Great Depression. What's puzzling is not that the depression happened, given policies that were resorted to, but that such destructive policies secured wide support despite their often readily-predictable, adverse consequences. But to call even such perversity a "mystery" is to be guilty of hyperbole. After all, politicians are rewarded for appearing to "do something," and not for their command of "abstract" theories.

h/t: Cafe Hayek

Monday, October 06, 2008

Toronto hates Conservatives Part 2

I do not like small dead animals, especially when I find a stinking, decaying carcass on my front step. Oh, did I mention I have a Conservative sign in my front yard?

Is Carolyn Bennett running scared?

This is just too despicable to imagine an opponent being responsible for, particularly as it is more likely to help rather than hurt the Bennett campaign.

Carolyn Bennett should have a stranglehold on the riding given her margin of victory last election. Nonetheless, I think she is running scared.

Dr. Roy has already noted that Bennett broke the rules by distributing her House of Commons newsletter after the writ was dropped. I can vouch for this, since I live in the riding and received it after the election was called. Particularly galling is the fact that the content of the newsletter, which is virtually indistinguishable from election literature, was paid for by the taxpayers of St. Paul's.

I have been out canvassing for Heather Jewell, the Conservative candidate in the riding. It was discouraging at first, but lately people seem to be more receptive, though the chilliest responses still seem to be concentrated in some of the richest neighbourhoods.

But there is hope: the Conservative message is getting through. Blue signs have been sprouting up in my decidedly downscale neighbourhood during the past week. Forget the Toronto elites. Follow the people.

Monday, September 29, 2008

CAW Endorses Nash for Conservative decision to block MDA sale

Oddly enough, the CAW endorses NDP candidate Peggy Nash in Parkdale-High Park, yet it was the Conservatives who blocked the sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, for which they give her credit.

In the Greater Toronto Area, the CAW is endorsing an 'ABC' voting strategy (Anyone But Conservative) in all ridings with the exception of Toronto's Parkdale-High Park.

In Parkdale-High Park, the CAW is endorsing NDP MP and NDP industry critic Peggy Nash. Nash, the former assistant to both previous CAW presidents Bob White and Buzz Hargrove, was instrumental in stopping the sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates' space division to U.S. arms manufacturer Alliant Techsystems back in April and has been an exceptional advocate of working people, said Lewenza.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Who could it be now?

It's hard enough running as a Conservative against a popular NDP MP and Gerard Kennedy, the failed Liberal leadership candidate.

The battle for Parkdale-High Park is getting nasty.

Go Jilian!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gerard Kennedy: Any openings at the food bank?

Christina Blizzard thinks Gerard Kennedy's prospects of winning Parkdale-High Park are not good.

Which brings us to former McGuinty education minister Gerard Kennedy. He's in tough in Parkdale-High Park against NDP power chick Peggy Nash. Provincially the riding is held by another popular New Democrat woman, Cheri DiNovo. Between DiNovo and Nash, they have the riding all sewn up.

If Kennedy loses, it will be poetic justice. He was the guy who foisted Dion on an unsuspecting party by throwing his support behind him in the leadership convention.


Most pundits predict it will be adieu, Gerard. And the end of his political career. Any openings at the food bank, I wonder?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Toronto hates Conservatives

I see this sign on Harbord Street every morning on my bike ride to work.

I actually had a coffee at the Linux Caffe once. But I guess you can afford to insult your potential customers when those voting Conservative accounted for only 9% of the vote in the last election.

Wireless Nomad might also want to reconsider its affiliation with the business. They use the location as home base for their ISP business.

Another US industry in a tail spin

I'll be glad to see this one go, although the consequences could be dire. With the U.S. media fawning over Obama, the anti-Obama merchandise market will likely be unable to pick up the slack.

Economists Warn Anti-Bush Merchandise Market Close To Collapse

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blogging Tories' Ridings

Further to my previous post, here's a partial list of Conservative candidates and electoral districts as indicated by my readers. Members of the Blogging Tories live in several of the ridings. I'll update the list as I become aware of new entries. Please leave your info in the comments.


Kildonan-St. Paul: Joy Smith is up for re-election.


Outremont: Dr Roy is supporting Lulzim Laloshi.


Simcoe-Grey: Helena Guergis is running to retain her seat for the Conservatives.

Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington: Incumbent Scott Reid is running for the Conservatives.

Ottawa-Orléans: Royal Galipeau, the current Conservative MP is running again.

Parkdale-High Park: Nice Comfy Fur formerly lived in the riding and is supporting Jilian Saweczko.

St. Paul's: Nice Comfy Fur is supporting Heather Jewell.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry: Current CPC MP Guy Lauzon is standing for re-election.

York Centre: Matt at A Step to the Right is supporting Rochelle Wilner.

Who's your candidate?

Who are you supporting in the upcoming election?

If you are a Blogging Tory, leave me a comment and I'll put together a list of all the candidates and ridings we have covered. Hopefully, Conservative candidates and campaign managers can draw upon this list to get their message out. We're here to help.

This election, I'll be supporting Heather Jewell, the Conservative candidate in the riding of St. Paul's.

I also have a keen interest in my old riding of Parkdale-High Park, where CPC candidate Jilian Saweczko is looking to knock off two high-profile candidates - a failed Liberal leadership candidate and the sitting member from the CAW. Good luck Jilian.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Good advice from Warren

Those of you who live in the rest of Canada, my advice is this: stay there. Stay where you are. You don't want to live in Toronto.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Copyright and voting Conservative

Politics is not like shopping for groceries where you can fill your cart with the policies you like and leave the ones you don’t like on the shelf. Like it or not, when you vote for a particular party, you get the whole bundle: the good policies with the bad.

That said, I can understand where Alec Saunders is coming from. A recent post on his blog explains why he will be voting against Stephen Harper when an election is called. I have also been critical of the Conservative’s copyright bill.

As it stands now, Bill C-61 is so egregiously bad I think they want it to fail. We can only hope it never moves forward.

Given the groundswell of opposition to the current bill, which includes virtually everything corporate media interests have asked for, I can’t imagine the CPC actually proceeding with it. It makes no sense to turn people into criminals simply for making a backup copy of their store-bought Disney DVD for their kids to use. Now that they have tried with this bill, they can legitimately say to the next U.S. administration that it just won’t fly.

As for Alec Saunders, if this one issue is of such paramount importance to him, I would suggest he weigh his options carefully before voting against the Conservatives. Does the bad he sees likely to come from Bill C-61 more than offset all the good that might come from other "conservative" policies which he would otherwise be inclined to support? And what about the damage that the many boneheaded policies supported by other parties could cause?

In the case of the Liberals, there is really little fundamental difference between the previous Liberal copyright bill and that of the Conservatives. So a vote for the Liberals wouldn’t likely get him any further ahead on his one burning issue. In the meantime, he would have to swallow a lot of bad Liberal policies (can you say Green Shift?) with which he may fundamentally disagree.

That leaves the NDP which, of course, can adopt any policy it wants because it knows it will never get in power. But if Alec is truly conservative minded, it is hard to imagine him going to this extreme. In so doing, he would be in common cause with the likes of Lester, one of his commenters who advocates we “vote against this NeoConservative pig.”

I recognize that there is a real risk that the Conservatives may revive Bill C-61 in a similar form if they get a majority in the coming election. It is this very possibility that acts to temper my enthusiasm and desire to help the Conservatives win the election. But as important as this issue is to me, I’m not about to vote NDP. All I can say to Alec is to vote wisely.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Arts organizations not responsible, businesslike or self-sufficient?

At least that's what I think he is saying:

"What's really frustrating from our perspective is that the Conservative government is removing a program that enables institutions to do what the government wants them to do, which is become more responsible, more businesslike, more self-sufficient," said Shawn Van Sluys, executive director of the Canadian Art Museum Directors' Organization, in an interview.

The $27.1-million Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability Program was created in 2001 "to strengthen organizational effectiveness and build capacity of arts and heritage organizations."

If, as Van Sluys seems to suggest, the program has been unable to achieve its objectives after seven years, then perhaps we whould admit failure and shut it down. At some point, the government must stop holding the hands of arts administrators if they refuse to grow up. There is no reason for this program to continue into perpetuity.

Heritage Minister Josée Verner is right. It is time to look at new and better ways of supporting the arts.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Comparing Harper to Hitler diminishes public discourse...

...but comparing Harper to Darth Vader is OK.

The Toronto Star clarifies its editorial policy:

The Hitler label is regularly attached to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as well. A Google search using his name and Hitler's turned up 81,900 hits – many of them from the blogosphere but some in the mainstream media.

Such comparisons – while now apparently legally defensible – insult the memories of the victims of the real Hitler and diminish the quality of public discourse in this country.

Monday, June 30, 2008

British invade Plains of Abraham again

This time they're invited.

Paul McCartney sera sur les Plaines d'Abraham le 20 juillet

L'ex-Beatle Paul McCartney offrira un spectacle à Québec le 20 juillet prochain pour les fêtes du 400e.

La nouvelle a été confirmée lundi après-midi par les organisateurs des fêtes du 400e, qui ont pris soin de préciser qu'il s'agira d'un concert gratuit pour lequel il n'y aura pas de distribution de billets, contrairement au spectacle de Céline Dion.

Le musicien en sera à sa première performance au Canada depuis 2005.

Il s'agira également de sa seule présence sur le continent américain cette année.

On peut déjà prédire qu'il s'agira d'un des événements les plus courus de l'été dans la capitale.

You can watch Paul's announcement here.

The Conservatives did the right thing in bringing in Daniel Gélinas to get Quebec's 400th anniversary celebrations back on track. Nice work Daniel.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Green Grift

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation asks which came first, the SHIFT or the SHAFT? If Stéphane Dion gets away with this little confidence game, we'll be calling it the GRIFT.

A “carbon tax” in the style of Mr. Dion’s, which shields many people altogether from the price impact by various mechanisms, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Pigovian taxes economists favour as a response to negative externalities. It’s simply another way of picking and choosing.

What is more truly dear to Liberal hearts, we suspect, is the redistributive fashion in which the returned revenue from the carbon pricing will be used to re-jig the income tax system.


But the Liberals, in cutting the lowest tax bracket the most, and the highest not at all, are actually proposing to raise the already high marginal tax rates on upper-middle-class Canadians. And they’re not only writing cheques to rural dwellers to make sure they don’t belong to the carbon-priced class with us city folk; they’ll also be increasing the Northern exemption, creating another group that has non-negotiable “higher requirements” for pollution.

Will Canadians play willing marks to Stéphane's redistributive grift? Let's hope not.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dion: Playing God with the Market

The ultimate conceit of the modern liberal is that he knows better than the market. Thus it is little surprise that a recent fundraising letter for Stéphane Dion would make a statement like this:

Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion recently asked Canadians to take part in an open and honest debate about shifting taxes from things we want more of, to things we want less of.

Really? And all this time I thought the market was doing that. If I want something, I spend my money on it. If I don't want it, I leave it on the shelf.

But Stéphane Dion has a better idea. He wants us to spend our money on what he wants, not what we want. And he'll raise taxes until we get it right.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Courting copyright controversy

This is dumb. Really dumb.

If the reports are true, I'll be tearing up my CPC membership card. I can't believe Harper could be so stupid.

After months of delays and speculation, the federal government is set to unveil its controversial update to the Copyright Act of Canada Thursday.

According to a press release, Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister Josée Verner are set to introduce the legislation during the morning Parliamentary session. Both ministers will deliver brief statements and answer media inquiries shortly after the tabling of a bill to amend the Copyright Act.

Reports have also indicated that the two ministers will unveil the Copyright Act under the slogan "Made In Canada Copyright Reform" during a scheduled press conference.

The new Copyright Act has been updated to reflect the growth of digital media and is said to include a number of contentious provisions including:

-- A $500 fine for each illegal file shared online

-- Making it illegal to unlock cellphones or copy music from protected CDs to iPods

-- Forbidding the right to copy "time shifted" shows onto personal video recorders if flagged by broadcasters.

While this might make Hollywood and Big Media happy, they don't vote. Once consumers realize that the content they just purchased has been locked down, they will be furious.

The Conservatives are going to take a big hit for this. Watch the sparks fly.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Are Blogging Tories careerist conformists?

I've just about given up on reading any left-leaning blog. As Jay points out, orthodoxy is the rule on the left. There is very little real debate going on.

What makes things interesting on the right is that there is a debate. And it is a respectful one. While a liberal tends to heap nothing but condescension on the socon perspective, for the most part, a libertarian conservative attempts to integrate any differences into a world view that accommodates them. At the same time, socons seem to recognize libertarians as sympathetic allies, even though they sometimes suggest that the libertarian approach to social issues is responsible for many of society's ills.

The tension between the two "conservative" perspectives is healthy and makes for some lively debate. And, surprisingly, it often leads to common ground.

That said, I am puzzled as to why some make a punching bag out of the Blogging Tories. It is undoubtedly true that many of the bloggers on the BT blogroll are careerist cheerleaders for the Conservative Party. But what do you expect?

A little more variety would certainly lead me to visit more. I think traffic is down for that reason as I do not get nearly as many referrals from the site as I used to. However, many of the good blogs I have in my RSS feed were initially discovered there, including Kathy Shaidle, Ezra Levant, Gerry Nicholls and Dust My Broom.

Stephen Taylor (and Craig) deserve our thanks for creating Blogging Tories. I am not aware of any attempts by Stephen to censor any blogger on the BT blogroll. So far, he seems to have resisted strong pressures to play that role. I think Garth left voluntarily.

In fact, Taylor actually encourages contrary viewpoints. I talked to him once about a post I was working on that was critical of the government and he encouraged me to write it. He's no dummy. He knows controversy drives traffic.

Still, I wish the Blogging Tories could be less conformist and think for themselves from time to time. Minority or not, the only way to get the Harper government away from its Liberal-lite speaking points is to expose it to some critical attention. We are bloggers, not cabinet ministers. Hence, we can't get kicked out of the cabinet for not toeing the line. After all, isn't that why most of us blog?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Liberal MP Mario Silva argues against Catholic public schools

At least that's the way I interpret this:

...institutionalized religious discrimination cannot be condoned or tolerated in this day and age.

Discriminatory practices, whether they are directed at Roman Catholics or anyone else, are simply incompatible with any nation that ascribes to itself the fundamental values of equality that we hold in such high regard.

Where's Spartacus?

It pains me to see the student council at my alma mater play these little games:

In response to a series of controversies over abortion debates on Canadian campuses, the student government of York University in Toronto has tabled an outright ban on student clubs that are opposed to abortion.

If York students value free speech and recognize the importance of open debate on the issues of the day, they would consider persuading other clubs to pass resolutions opposing abortions, whether they believe it or not. Let them boot out all the clubs.

In the meantime, if you are a former York student and are solicited for a donation, take Dave Gordon's advice: just say no.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Activist judges making law in BCE case

Terence Corcoran makes the case for reversing the Quebec Court of Appeal's recent decision in the BCE case. Once again our august judiciary is making the law under the guise of interpreting it.

It would be a spectacular long-term Canadian shareholder disaster, and possibly a corporate governance disaster, if the BCE takeover were to crash over the short-term interests of a relatively small group of bondholders.


The role of the Supreme Court, if it accepts the appeal, would be to uphold shareholder rights and reverse Wednesday's Quebec Court of Appeal decision. That decision against BCE appears to significantly expand the subversive idea -- long a shadow over Canadian corporate law -- that shareholders are just another group of interested parties in a long list of "stakeholders."

As the appeal court put it, the BCE board of directors, and a special independent committee of the board, made a "mistake" in deciding not to make special arrangements with the owners of about $5-billion in Bell Canada long-term debt, the debenture holders. "In Canada, the directors of a corporation have a more extensive duty" than to maximize value to shareholders. This more extensive duty means the board "must have regard, among other things, to the reasonable expectations of the debenture holders, and those may be more extensive than merely respecting their contractual legal rights."

What's the point of a contract if one side is automatically forced to go beyond it?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Obama fails the farm bill test


If you look around America today, you see the Olson logic playing out. Interest groups turn every judicial fight into an ideological war. They lobby for more spending on the elderly, even though the country is trillions of dollars short of being able to live up to its promises. They’ve turned environmental concern into subsidies for corn growers and energy concerns into subsidies for oil companies.

The $307 billion farm bill that rolled through Congress is a perfect example of the pattern. Farm net income is up 56 percent over the past two years, yet the farm bill plows subsidies into agribusinesses, thoroughbred breeders and the rest.


The question amid this supposed change election is: Who is going to end this sort of thing?

Barack Obama talks about taking on the special interests. This farm bill would have been a perfect opportunity to do so. But Obama supported the bill, just as he supported the 2005 energy bill that was a Christmas tree for the oil and gas industries.


Obama, sad to say, failed the farm bill test.

How to make the Globe and Mail front page

It helps if the editor has an axe to grind:

Let’s play a game of You Be the Editor. Here’s the deal: the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration forces a local airline to shut down one of its seven return flights each weekday between Toronto and Newark, N.J. News? Yes. Front-page news? Of course not—unless you’re the Globe and Mail. No one has it in for Porter Airlines like the Globe. Ditto for Porter’s landlord, the Toronto Port Authority, a piddling public sector organization that, like the Freemasons, is assumed to nefariously wield much more power and influence than it does and, all told, takes up far more space and time in the city’s public imagination than it deserves.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Piracy is just another business model"

There are better ways of beating the pirates than suing your customers:

Media piracy will always be with us. But the pirates, Mr. Bylund writes, “can be beaten — it happens all the time — but not primarily by means of legal threats and lawsuits.” Rather, he says: “You subjugate these rebels with the tools of free enterprise. Piracy is just another business model, and the pirates will lose and go away when you come up with a better model.”

Consumers make buying decisions based on three factors, according to Mr. Bylund: “price, convenience and quality.” Pirates will always win on price (free), but media companies can and do beat them on the other factors. Among the examples he cites is the cable channel Comedy Central, owned by Viacom ( The Web site offers the complete archives of “The Daily Show” and makes them searchable. Hulu, owned by NBC and Fox, offers many television shows and some movies with limited (and short) advertisements ( All are offered in high-quality video.

But it should not stop there, Mr. Bylund says. “Figure out an ad-supported model if you can, or charge less than a dollar per episode. Let people burn it to DVD or play the file on iPhones for a buck.” Eventually, “piracy will force all the big-time content producers to move in this kind of direction,” Mr. Bylund says. “Capitalism, properly applied, will beat the rebels every time.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chinese carbon subsidies

While the developed countries propose and implement costly measures to reduce carbon emissions, China's seemingly insatiable appetite for carbon gets subsidized:

Soaring oil prices have not slowed China's consumption of oil as statistics show that China's apparent consumption of crude oil and refined oil products both hit record highs in the first quarter of the year.

According to statistics released Tuesday by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association (CPCIA), China's apparent consumption of oil products composed of gasoline, diesel and kerosene rose by 16.5 percent year on year to 52.73 million tonnes in the first three months, and crude oil, rose by 8 percent to 91.8 million tonnes.


State ceilings on prices of domestic oil products was the major reason contributing to China's surging oil consumption in the first quarter [emphasis added].

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The "Emboldenment" Effect

There's probably a lesson in this for Jack Layton, Stéphane Dion and other critics of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan:

Are insurgents affected by information on US casualty sensitivity? Using data on attacks and variation in access to international news across Iraqi provinces, we identify an "emboldenment" effect by comparing the rate of insurgent attacks in areas with higher and lower access to information about U.S news after public statements critical of the war. We find in periods after a spike in war-critical statements, insurgent attacks increases by 5-10 percent. The results suggest that insurgent groups respond rationally to expected probability of US withdrawal. As such counterinsurgency should consider deterrence and incapacitation rather than simply search and destroy missions.

h/t: Marginal Revolution

Monday, March 10, 2008

In the service of the oil industry

The standard criticism of Conservative climate change policy is that Harper would never do anything that would hurt the Alberta oil industry. Hope this shuts them up:

Oil sands face tough environmental rules

Mar 10, 2008 04:41 PM

OTTAWA–The federal government is laying out new rules that would force new oil-sands plants to capture and store carbon and would ban the building of dirty, coal-fired power plants.

The bans would be effective as of 2012.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nine out of 10 economists...

Mr. Flaherty believes Ontario is failing to adapt to a changing world because its business taxes are the highest in Canada. In a speech in Toronto yesterday, he offered as evidence Ontario's declining share of national GDP; its weaker than average economic growth; and, an unemployment rate higher than the national average. He said the federal government has cut corporate income tax rates from to 15% from 22.1%, while Ontario's rate is only half a percentage point lower than in 2000, "with no plans in place for further reductions."

Mr. McGuinty's response is that tax cuts are not enough on their own and that governments have to make targeted investments in troubled industries to stimulate growth.

Let's see:The manufacturing sector is not doing too well in Ontario, although the rest of the country seems to be doing okay.But isn't the auto sector the problem? Well, if we strip out transportation equipment, which includes autos....

Hey, look at that: Ontario still lags.

Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, says, nine out of 10 economists would side with Mr. Flaherty and advocate creating as favourable an economic environment as possible and then allowing the market to pick the winners and losers.

What does he know? Ontario's "targeted investments" are working out so well.

Update: Flaherty takes another kick at McGuinty in a speech yesterday:

In fact, a combination of the strong Canadian dollar, a slowing U.S. economy, higher energy prices and increased competition from emerging markets has left several sectors struggling. Here in the manufacturing heartland of Canada the impact has been acute. But the economic impact is in direct contrast to national economic trends generally.

For instance, we are experiencing the second-longest period of economic expansion in Canadian history. Yet Ontario's share of the national nominal GDP has gone from 41.4% in 2002 to 38.6% in 2006.

Ontarians are seeing a lack of leadership, a lack of vision and a lack of economic stewardship.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ontario manufacturing underperforms

Ontario's economy has been lagging the rest of the country for some time. The "economic engine" of Canada is clearly sputtering.

The easy explanation is that the Ontario economy is weak because of the province's greater dependence on the manufacturing sector. This weakness reflects the struggle by Ontario manufacturers to adapt to the sharp run up in the Canadian dollar, higher energy prices and intense competition from China.

However, manufacturers elsewhere in the country also face these pressures. And they seem to be doing a better job of coping. While manufacturing shipments from Ontario dropped 1.2% in 2007, shipments rose 1.7% elsewhere in the country. Moreover, out of a total of 21 subsectors, the rest of Canada outperformed Ontario in 15.
Click on chart for larger image.

Maybe Dalton McGuinty needs to consider what his government is doing wrong before asking the feds for help. Any suggestions?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another bookstore bites the dust

It's rather sad to see another independent bookstore close. I once worked in one (which is also no longer in business) and have spent a lot of money in them.

Alas, I rarely buy books from bookstores anymore. I still buy books, just not from bookstores. (notice my banner link) now gets most of my business. Apparently, I'm not the only one:

Staff at The Book Room, a 169-year-old shop presently located on a corner of Halifax's bustling Barrington Street, unwittingly opened the box to discover the same titles they already had in stock -- plus an invoice from one of the big Internet booksellers.

"Somebody had ordered a bunch of books from Amazon," Charles Burchell, who managed the bookstore for more than 40 years, recounted in a recent interview. "To find that it was books we had on our shelves that they could have had in five minutes rather than five days if they'd walked downstairs ... that really made us sit up and take notice."

It was a slap in the face to the independent store that has been fighting a losing battle against book behemoths, the proliferation of literature to supermarkets and big box stores and the convenience of Internet ordering for the better part of a decade.

"It said to me that there's a group of people out there who don't want to make use of a bookstore," Mr. Burchell lamented. "We really couldn't see a future anymore."

It is easy to get all nostalgic, but this is about economics. Before the internet, a knowledgeable clerk in an independent bookstore was a key source of information. Most clearly loved books and could be a very valuable resource, particularly if their interests happened to coincide with yours. In part, it was this knowledge that you paid for when you bought a book at list price.

With the internet, that information and more is available online for free. The economies of scale for an online bookseller in providing this information are virtually limitless. An independent bookstore cannot really compete against that without embracing the same tools or by focusing on very specialized market niches.

Sadly, it is either adapt or perish.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dalton warned us about this

Is this what Dalton McGuinty warned us about in the last election?

The hands of students in Fareena Masood's Grade 3 class fly into the air when the teacher asks for the number of syllables in "communication."

The question stumps a few of the young students at the Islamic Foundation School -- "Is it four?" one asks -- before another student correctly answers five.

As Masood -- called Sister Fareena by her students -- writes the answer on the blackboard, one boy whispers an excited "yes" as he checks his own page.

Next on the teacher's list, written in chalk on the blackboard, are the words "wonderful" and "school."

They're fitting words for a vocabulary lesson at the Scarborough private school which is one of 25 schools ranked first in the province by the 2008 Fraser Institute report card on elementary education. The school, which has 497 male and female students from JK to Grade 12, earned a perfect 10 score, according to the report.

It seems to me they are doing something right.

You've got Liberals!

They should have closed it after they discovered the first one. If you've got one, there's always more.

Public health authorities shut down one of Chinatown's most prominent restaurants yesterday after a passerby took a photo of rats on a countertop.

The rats were visible through a window of the Dumpling House Restaurant yesterday afternoon, passerby Vivian Hui said.


Dumpling House, at 328 Spadina Ave., hosted a photo op by then Liberal leadership candidate Paul Martin during the April, 2003, SARS crisis. The restaurant is popular with celebrities, and has been well reviewed by various publications.

More at blogTO

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Democrats bad for Canada

The Canadian fascination with the U.S. Democratic party has always puzzled me. With three quarters of Canadian exports going south of the border, we have a vested interest in keeping the border open. Yet, both candidates in the Democratic primary have been bashing NAFTA.

First, here is Barack Obama speaking of his opponent Hillary Clinton:
"Her supporting NAFTA didn't give jobs to the American people."
Hillary's defense:
"I was not in the Senate at the time. I did not have a vote. I find his argument to be quite tortured. I have been a vocal critic of NAFTA starting in my campaign for the Senate in 1999."

It would not be good for Canada if either were to become U.S. president.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lost in move to 24 Sussex Drive

With Warren gone, let's hope Kathy Shaidle gets his columnist gig at the National Post:

When bloggers first heard of the accusations against Steyn and Levant, and began mounting campaigns to "stop the CHRCs" from further stifling freedom of speech, many were encouraged by a rediscovered, then widely circulated, quotation from future Prime Minister Stephen Harper, circa 1999:

"Human Rights Commissions, as they are evolving, are an attack on our fundamental freedoms and the basic existence of a democratic society … It is in fact totalitarianism. I find this is very scary stuff."

Looks like Stephen Harper lost a few things during his move to 24 Sussex Drive. Namely, a principle or two.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Congratulations kid!

My daughter was recently accepted into the Grade 9 arts program at two of Toronto's top high schools of the arts. While I have never doubted her talent, it is certainly gratifying that others see it too.

Congratulations kid!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hybrid cars: green snake oil

Prius owners, still think you're saving the planet now?

In a recent journal article, French researchers suggest that:

the misinformed craze for hybrid vehicles especially in the USA, and increasingly in Japan and Europe, and potentially in China, could represent a red light for more innovative technologies, such as viable fuel-cell cars that can use sustainably sourced fuels, such as hydrogen.


"There is a general convergence of strategies towards promoting hybrid vehicles as the mid-term solution to very low-emission and high-mileage vehicles," the researchers assert, "this is largely due to Toyota’s strategy of learning the technology, while building up its own ‘quasi-standard’, thanks to its high-quality and reliability reputation and its high market share on the North American market." They add that, "Such a convergence is based more on customer perception triggered by very clever marketing and communication campaigns than on pure rationale scientific arguments and may result in the need for any manufacturer operating in the USA to have a hybrid electric vehicle in its model range in order to survive."

Bullshit detector

Andrew Potter points to this little gem in the Globe and Mail:

Constitutional expert Errol Mendes of the University of Ottawa said he researched the issue yesterday and could find no similar examples of a confidence motion such as the one the Tories unveiled - one involving the unelected Senate. "This is insane," he said.

In quoting such an expert, it evidently did not occur to the Globe journalists, Brian Laghi and Jane Taber, that Professor Mendes might have a stake in the game:

Professor Errol Mendes was nominated to the Privy Council Office by the Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin.

I guess it also did not occur to them to ask how many times a Liberal-dominated, unelected Senate has blocked the legislation of a minority Conservative government?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A lesson for tax and spend liberals

Hell, the Conservative Party might learn something too.

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute explains the relationship between tax rates, government revenues and economic growth:

via Café Hayek

Smearing the lense of history with Vaseline

I guess I should have paid more attention when I took a film studies course in university. Toronto Star book columnist (and former film critic) Geoff Pevere writes:

John F. Kennedy's "New Frontier" – so named by the dashing young candidate at the Democratic leadership convention of 1960 – was barely two years old when veteran filmmaker John Ford suggested the whole thing might be a lie. The context was a 1962 Ford movie called The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a Western about a lawyer (played by James Stewart) who negotiates a bogus claim to heroism to a seat in the U.S. Senate.

At the movie's climax, a newspaper editor is informed that the real man who shot the desperado Liberty Valance isn't the man everybody thinks it was – meaning the eminent politician is something of a fraud. The truth leaves the newspaperman unimpressed.

"This is the west, sir," he says. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

It makes more sense now. Still, you have to wonder what benefit Barack Obama hopes to get from the Kennedy family endorsement of his candidacy when it's based on a lie.

For the Democrats and left generally, 1968 has become a kind of rallying call to unity. The year evokes a kind of lost Eden, the last moment when the communal idealism of youth culture functioned as a kind of umbrella that covered – and sheltered – everyone.


But did that country ever really exist? According to Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism– and the volume from which the above quote was pulled – the Democratic Party version of the 1960s is a "Sorelian myth. An age when the 'good guys' overturned a corrupt system, rebelled against their 'square' parents, and ushered in an age of enlightenment and decency, now under threat from oppressive conservatives who want to roll back its utopian gains." Balderdash, according to Goldberg: "Liberal baby boomers have smeared the lens of memory with Vaseline." They've printed the legend.

So much for authenticity.

Patrick Moore: Thinking nuclear

I saw Patrick Moore speak a number of years ago. At the time, I was very impressed with his practical perspective on key environmental issues. However, his conversion from a hardcore, old-style environmentalist to someone willing to work with business to achieve real environmental progress has been hard for many of his former colleagues to accept, which is probably as good a recommendation he can get.

Here are a couple of interesting tidbits from a from a recent interview with CNET:

As a co-founder of Greenpeace, even though I was a scientist, I made the same mistake in those days as all the rest of my colleagues did. We kind of lumped nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons as if all things nuclear were evil. It was an honest mistake. We were totally focused on the threat of nuclear war during the Cold War. Nuclear testing was what Greenpeace started on and we were peaceniks, and I think it's fair to say that the antinuclear-energy movement to some extent was formed out of the peace movement.


How people manage to perceive that nuclear is dangerous when no one has ever been hurt by it is hard for me to understand, but there it is. It's a scared thing and it's like many of the campaigns today that are based on scaring people about something invisible. In this case, radiation. In agriculture, it's invisible pesticide residues. In climate, it's invisible carbon dioxide. In genetic engineering, it's invisible genes. Actually, a majority of the what are being called environmental campaigns these days are basically scare campaigns based on people not being able to see what it is that they are supposed to be afraid of. You can make up all kinds of stories about things people can't see.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Turning it up to 11

It started with Spinal Tap.

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered — almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. "I think most everything is mastered a little too loud," Bendeth says. "The industry decided that it's a volume contest."


Too much compression can be heard as musical clutter; on the Arctic Monkeys' debut, the band never seems to pause to catch its breath. By maintaining constant intensity, the album flattens out the emotional peaks that usually stand out in a song. "You lose the power of the chorus, because it's not louder than the verses," Bendeth says. "You lose emotion."


Producers also now alter the way they mix albums to compensate for the limitations of MP3 sound. "You have to be aware of how people will hear music, and pretty much everyone is listening to MP3," says producer Butch Vig, a member of Garbage and the producer of Nirvana's Never- mind. "Some of the effects get lost. So you sometimes have to over-exaggerate things." Other producers believe that intensely compressed CDs make for better MP3s, since the loudness of the music will compensate for the flatness of the digital format.

In other words, sound quality now sucks as musicians and producers try to cut through the noise of modern life and the technological limitations of MP3s by turning up the apparent volume of their music.

While part of the blame can undoubtedly be pinned on the iPod, people also seem more than willing to sacrifice sound quality for the convenience of being able to listen to their personal music collections anywhere and any time. For example, I use my iPod almost every day -- on the subway to work, when driving my car or walking the dog -- but rarely sit down to listen to an album on my home sound system. I do appreciate good sound quality, but give me convenienceand 2,000 songs in my pocket, and high fidelity falls to second place.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

No need to make winter tires mandatory in Ontario

Anyone who has ever driven in the snow knows that winter tires are a good idea. All-season radials just don't cut it in the snowy regions of the country, particularly if they have some mileage on them.

When I lived in Montreal, I had snow tires. Montreal gets a lot of snow. It was stupid not to put winter tires on your car. Hence, Quebec's recent move to make winter tires mandatory is largely redundant. Most people use them. Those that don't get into more accidents.

In published reports, the head of a Quebec task force on road safety, Jean-Marie de Koninck, pointed to statistics showing snow tires help save lives.

"There's about 10% of the people right now that don't have winter tires on and they're involved in 38% of the accidents on the road in the winter," de Koninck said before Christmas.

The simple solution is for insurers to charge lower premiums to drivers who put snow tires on their cars than to drivers who do not. Quebec's system of no-fault insurance is probably behind its move to preempt a market solution to the problem since the driver who is responsible for an accident does not bear the full cost of the damage he causes. As a result, his future insurance premiums will reflect only the damage done to his own car.

Which brings us to Dalton McGuinty.

Ontario may follow the lead of its provincial neighbour and make winter snow tires madatory for winter driving.


Premier Dalton McGuinty has said he will consider making it a law in Ontario and OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino has already said he is behind the idea.

Have you seen car insurance premiums in this province? Get into one at-fault accident and your premiums will skyrocket. What better incentive is there to put snow tires on your car than that? That is, if you really need them at all.

Here in Toronto, we don't get a lot of snow. What we do get tends to melt quickly, aided by prodigious amounts of salt.

Do the math. If you only drive in southern Ontario and avoid driving the two or three times a season when we might get a meaningful amount of snow, it makes little economic sense to spend hundreds of dollars on snow tires. Moreover, cars with snow tires are considerably less fuel efficient. If you drive on snow-free roads the rest of the time, you will be burning extra gas.

That doesn't sound like the environmentally correct thing to do. And if the climate change lobby is to be believed, it will only hasten the rise in average temperatures in Ontario.

With winter in Ontario supposedly on the endangered list, why would McGuinty even consider making winter tires mandatory in Ontario? One can only conclude that if Dalton does go ahead with this, he doesn't believe his own hype about global warming.